You've probably seen someone doing Tai Chi before, and you were probably transfixed. The ancient Chinese martial art features a series of precise yet fluid movements that can give both your body and wellbeing a boost. The best part? Tai Chi can be (and is) practiced by people of all ages and fitness levels.
"Tai Chi is one of the most practiced sports in the world — think of all the people who have to do it before they work in China," says Jeremy W. Hubbell, director at CK Chu Tai Chi, who has been teaching Tai Chi for 11 years.
Health Benefits of Tai Chi
With enough practice, Tai Chi offers numerous health benefits, including:
- Decreases stress, anxiety and depression
- Improves mood
- Improves aerobic capacity
- Increases energy and stamina
- Improves flexibility, balance and agility
- Improves muscle strength and definition
"A lot of our stress and emotions get lodged in our muscles, so by constantly trying to maintain and clean them out, you're able to improve them over time so you can withstand stress and whatever life throws at you," Hubbell says.
Is Tai Chi Difficult?
As Hubbell puts it, Tai Chi is a lifetime sport. Don't expect to have perfect form and breathing right off the bat — that's something that takes time. But that's the fun part.
"It's a long progression and it changes you in so many ways — the way your body feels, how you feel, your mind and emotions. It's a complete overhaul if you give it a chance and do it correctly," Hubbell says. "The form gives you something to do and aim at — you have a goal of having a clean form. There's an art to it."
Ready to master the art? Step right up — here are three Tai Chi moves to get you started.
3 Beginner Tai Chi Moves
The CK Chu Tai Chi center practices Eternal Spring, created by Grandmaster C.K. Chu. It includes aspects of Tai Chi, Nei Kung — which focuses on slow, deep breathing and a relaxed physical stance and mental attitude — and meditation.
Please note: Each of these moves is part of a longer series of movements.
1. Dragon Claws to the Front
Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed as you work with your hands.
2. Golden Rooster
The Golden Rooster stands on one foot, so bend the knee on your standing leg, tuck in and breathe in as you raise your other leg.
3. White Crane
As the White Crane spreads its wings, focus on your body and breath.