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Tai Chi is known for its ability to improve balance, strength, and flexibility—in body, mind, and spirit. Many people find that their legs become stronger within a few weeks of practicing and that getting up from a lower position, such as picking up something off the floor, is easier and more comfortable. Others notice a new confidence in walking, even on uneven surfaces, while others find they are less stressed with the day’s ups and downs.
Others find a new sense of inner calm and reduced anxiety. Tai Chi can affect both our physical bodies and our emotional states. Often referred to as a moving meditation, Tai Chi can bring mindfulness to daily life, beyond the class time.
If you have any physical or mental health issues, privately let your instructor know. They will keep your concerns confidential and can watch out for potential pitfalls.
Tai Chi basics can be learned in a few months, but the study of Tai Chi is best approached as a lifetime practice. Everyone learns at their own pace, because of different abilities, different bodies, different attitudes. Tai Chi is a personal art and practice. Comparison is the thief of joy. No matter how many years one practices, the dedicated student will always have more to learn.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Any athletic shoe is fine, and almost any flat-heeled shoe will work. Sandals or open-back shoes that slip are best left in the closet. In accordance with traditional Chinese arts, we dress modestly. Comfort and room to move are key. Jeans are often too tight but sweat pants or other loose pants and loose tops are perfect.
Even more important than what you wear is the attitude you bring to class and practice. Cultivating an attitude of being open to new experiences is fundamental. Although Tai Chi can be taught in a few months, it takes many years for students to become proficient. Patience is the key—patience with yourself, patience with your fellow students, and patience with your instructor. Ask questions! If you aren’t sure how to follow a particular instruction, it’s likely others are in a similar position.
Tai Chi often introduces adults to a greater sensory awareness and understanding of how their body works. Unlike many sports, Tai Chi players don’t respond to a ball or opponent. Unlike dance, there is no music. The expression “Go with the flow” originated with Taoism, the philosophical underpinnings of Tai Chi. Simply follow along and let your body listen. We’ve all experienced confusion as we learned Tai Chi, including the instructors, so don’t let this concern you. The movements will eventually make sense!
There are both floor practice (standing or moving upright) and discussions during Zoom classes. Your camera is best set so that you can see the instructor as much as possible and secondly, so that your feet and hips can be seen (the more of you, the better) for instruction. When we have discussions, we’ll want to see your face! You’ll be moving both legs and arms, so your space should allow you to raise both hands to shoulder height, with arms able to be extended in all directions. Generally, a practice space of 6’ x 3’ is adequate.
While classes are being held on Zoom, you’ll need a device such as laptop, PC, tablet, or smartphone. Your being (or learning to be) proficient at toggling between Speaker and Gallery views, between Mute and Unmute settings, and between Video On and Off will make your Zoom class experience more enjoyable.