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An Introduction to Tai Chi

Meditation in Motion


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    I agree, Tai Chi is great, but I'd like to break a stereotype here. Tai Chi is not the only "moving meditation" exercise you can do. All Chinese martial arts, external or internal, are moving meditations. When I do Lau Gar kung fu, I have to just do Lau Gar. I can't think of bills, meals, or painting the house, I have to only do Lau Gar (or whatever form I happen to be doing at the time) with clear mind (or: meditative intent).

    *nods to others with calorie burn concerns* As far as calorie burn is concerned, that's going to depend on two things: 1) Your Tai Chi style and 2) The mode you are engaging in at the time. If you after a cardio workout, I'd go with Chen style Tai Chi. Do the whole form ten times or even five times with only chi gung as a break in between. As for mode,
    most people find Yang style as their first Tai Chi form due to its popularity. Yang mode for beginners (first ten years--and that's from a traditional perspective) is going to be slow and moving yoga (here's the moving meditation the article mentioned). But if you are an experienced Yang student, you'll get to the "fast Tai Chi"
    form. As I mentioned for Chen, doing intermediate Yang for calorie burn is going
    to amount to how many times you do it and how long you rest in between.

    In terms of chi gung and calorie burn...that's a real gray area for Westerners. I'd caution anyone from practicing the advanced chi gung sets for body-change practice. You get great results, but often at some sacrifice to the body (ironically, nature keeps the yin/yang balance regardless of our wants).

    Overall, if you're looking to burn calories with Tai Chi, go for Chen style. For muscle
    tone, go for Hung Gar kung fu (I've done the Taming the Tiger form all summer without once lifting a barbel...and its been a great conditioning set).
    I am finding Tai Chi very beneficial. I have a torn Labrum in my hip and have found that I can do Tai Chi as long as I adjust my foot stance whenever I feel pain in the hip. I practice the little I know each day but when I went two days in a row without doing my Tai Chi; the pain in my hip was pretty bad. I am feeling the benefits of my doing Tai Chi. I agree a good instructor who gives you the energy work with the forms and can give you great mental images to work with is essential to getting everything from Tai Chi that it has to offer.
  • I recently started Tai Chi and absolutely love it debbi
    I, too, have been wanting to try Tai Chi for quite a while. I just read in this week's newspaper that there are classes being held nearby. I might just go check them out!
  • I've been practicing Tai Chi for seven years. I cannot imagine my life without it now. It has helped me physically, with my balance and flexibility ( I am NO athelete :-) ) and mentally, coping better with stress and learning to RELAX.
  • I have bad knees and fussy hips from years of running and other sports that have battered my body. I began doing Tai Chi as a way to stay off of prescription medication for stress and anxiety. I have been practicing for about one year. Never do my knees or hips or back trouble me when doing it, I sleep better, I have more energy and I am far less stressed. When I feel stressed at work, even sitting at my desk picturing myself go through the movements relaxes me.

    I really think that having an instructor is the way to go. My local community center offers the class, and I have an instructor that has been practicing for 30 some years. DVDs are fine once you know what you are doing, but I prefer to continue with the help of an instructor. The classes are inexpensive and also give you an opportunity to interact with new people.
  • I would like very much to try this....can you tell us of a place online where we can learn this?
    I will really like to try this. how do I find out more about it? I think it is phenomenal and very interesting. Love it!
  • tai chi is a lovely form of exercise and should be included in the fitness plan
  • I love Tai Chi. I have a video of some very GENTLE, lovely exercises which I am able to do despite having Sarcoidosis and Endo. I do them in the morning while the coffee brews. This and a modified diet have helped me lose more than 18 pounds in 4 months. Now I'm getting serious about my food and fat intake1 i am very excited about being healthier!
    I can thoroughly recommend tai chi. I have wanted to do tai chi every since I was a young teen (now racing down the 40+ hill!). I have been battling a problem in my back for the past four years that is now livable-with and decided in September to start classes. I won't say my back never hurts, it still does now and then, but not because of the tai chi. Tai chi has helped me relax and become very aware of my body stance. Having spent the past few years learning to keep my back in its correct position, I am pleased to find that I don't make the mistake many do when practising - leaning when you shouldn't. My balance has improved tremendously - I didn't realise till I started classes how easy I wobbled! I can now stand on one leg and turn without all of us falling into hysterical laughter. As for knees, make sure you find a good instructor. There are strict rules for where your weight should be when doing the moves and you are not allowed to extend beyond certain points (e.g. your knees never extend beyond your toes). If you have any health conditions, if the instructor is good, he should restrict your extension and point out where YOU stop, when you are doing something you shouldn't etc. Ours is excellent and points out all these things.
    Not sure how many calories are burnt. I take a 1.5 h class twice a week and try to practise several times a week at home. I have lost 6 kilos (not a fantastic amount, but I hadn't actually intended to lose weight, so it is a bonus) since October - but that may have been helped by the fact I have a 15-20 min walk to and from class.
    I don't know whether Tai Chi is in the fitness tracker or not, but it's not a cardio workout. To track the calories burned for this activity would be very misleading, as it doesn't fit the bill for cardio (aerobic) exercise, which are the calories burned that you want to track. Hope that helps.
    How many calories does a 20-minute tai chi or qi gong session burn--for my fitness tracker?
  • Great article. I love the Tai Chi videos by Terry Dunn as he is a wonderful instructor. It takes about 18 months of practice to fully learn all 120 movements.
  • I'd really like to try knees give me a fit when I am exercising, so I am wondering if this is the way to go. But, I like the idea of meditation and movement together. I wonder what modifications could be made to create a successful program for me. I also have fibromyalgia. Thanks for the article!

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