In my writings I use certain conventions to highlight particular aspects or qualities of the topics. First, since the language and names are often Chinese in origin, which has multiple systems of transliteration into English spelling, I use Pinyin, the current world standard. This has one major exception that is the name tai chi, which I feel is recognizable now as an English name for this form of practice.
When it comes to the practice of tai chi, the short form referencing taijiquan, I use lower-case. When discussing Tai Chi, the Supreme Ultimate principle, I use initial-cap so that it will stand out.
Tai chi has become much more popular in the West since I began my study over 40 years ago. Still, it seems mysterious and seemingly difficult to fathom for many. My aim is to provide the curious, the interested and the devoted alike, a clear way to experience the highly practical and accessible principles available to us through the practice of this art.
The fundamentals are essentially simple. We learn to relax and focus. We discover a grounding – available through relaxed alignment. Then, we learn to move while maintaining our balance. Opening ourselves to this type of mindful awareness in action provides a catalyst for a shift in perspective and in approach to life. The physical relaxation, alignment and openness also provide multiple health and wellness benefits as we learn to let go of stress and feel our life energy circulate freely within our body. The grounded relaxation and enhanced awareness reveal for us the innate courage we have to open our hearts and connect with all.
The tools I use are tai chi form, qigong and partner exercises from the lineage of Cheng Man-Ch’ing (Zheng Manqing) and related work from The Arica School®.
© 2015 Blue Tiger Way.
Arica School® is a registered trademark of Oscar Ichazo. Used with permission.
This article was originally written for Ideal Magazine. The link to their posting is: http://www.idealmagazine.co.uk/top-ten-reasons-to-practice-tai-chi/ The formatting here looks a bit different.
- Do something nice for yourself
– Practicing Tai Chi makes you feel better
- Although Tai Chi is a subtle and lifelong practice, the benefits and pleasure of it begin to accrue immediately. You will discover that you can allow your thinking mind to drop into the background as you explore your inner body awareness.
- Over time you will naturally establish a more positive sense of self.
- Discover mindfulness
– Get to know the here and now
- Gradually learn to establish single-pointed focus through your practice.
- Tai Chi is moving meditation, which helps you feel calmer and more centred in everyday life.
- Improve your posture
– Reduce strain on supporting muscles and ligaments
- Relaxation of the legs allows the pelvis to hang more freely and for the spine to elongate as if the body were suspended from above.
- Cultivating this awareness allows for opening in the joints with a more relaxed easy upright posture.
- Release stress
– Learn how to stay relaxed and conserve energy
- We often hold tension in our bodies unnecessarily, particularly when we are under stress.
- Most of us are unaware that we are using far more energy than is needed, which can leave us feeling exhausted. Tai Chi principles help us to relax the body and use less muscular effort.
- Strengthen your balance
– Inside & out!
- Relax your legs and discover a rooted strength from feeling your feet relax in contact with the earth. This leads to a sense of balance and security.
- Physical balance inevitably finds its way into your emotional and intellectual life.
- Be the calm at the centre of the storm
– Discover how to move smoothly through life even when under pressure
- Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art that recognizes the benefit of presence of mind, timing, balance and Wu Wei (the action of non-action) over conflict, force and aggression. Learn to get out of the way without giving up your balance during interaction.
- Recognise that you can avoid conflict without fear, anger or judgement.
- Feel better about yourself
– On your own and in a group
- Find a positive self-image and the confidence of balance.
- Experience the pleasure and satisfaction of participating in such a smooth and flowing group practice.
- Tai Chi principles improve relationships
– Develop better rapport based on understanding and respect
- Discover how you can apply the wisdom of tai chi, yin/yang, giving & receiving to improve your relationships.
- Tai Chi is about sensing, listening and responding to your partner.
- Enhance your sensual perception
– Awaken your entire body
- Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art that highlights connection, smoothness and harmony of movement.
- It can have a very positive effect on your love life, heightening your sensitivity and improving your stamina.
- Best of all, discover your inner energy
– Qi (pronounced chee) is your life energy
- Qigong, translated loosely as ‘energy work’, is a great part of practicing Tai Chi. It brings the biggest health benefits: longevity, increased strength and improved vitality.
- Tai Chi movements gently massage the internal organs while circulating vital qi energy throughout the body, helping us to stay healthy and free from illness.
By Greg Woodson & Kate Mansfield, July 2013.