Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition practiced in the form of exercise, that has practitioners worldwide. Like other ancient practices, there are now both traditional and modern forms that are practiced. It was originally developed as a form of self-defense, and with time it has evolved into a more graceful exercise that is adopted for many health benefits. While there is some overlap with yoga, the main difference is in the execution.
While both provide practically identical benefits, yoga involves more stillness, holding postures and poses, and tai chi is more of a dance-like martial art. It can be described as meditation in motion; using flowing and gentle movements to promote serenity, thus connecting the body and mind. Each posture flows into the next, leaving your body in constant motion. And just like yoga, tai chi improves your flexibility and balance and strengthens core muscles as well as the upper and lower extremities. Also known as ‘Shadowboxing’, tai chi is practiced for meditation, health benefits, and defense training. The meditative aspect of it is a vital part of maintaining health, as well as relieving stress and anxiety.
The movement part is training the body to appropriately deal with outside forces; a form of self-defense. It is suitable for all fitness levels and a wide range of ages since it is a low-impact exercise, minimal stress is put on your muscles and joints. This also makes it especially suitable for those who may not otherwise be able to exercise. You can find videos online, and many books that can teach you about tai chi, but like with any ancient practice, it is best to seek out a qualified instructor. Ask around your local community for any recommendations for a good and reliable instructor. Most teachers will be able to teach you suitable breathing techniques and specific positions that’ll most benefit you, this is especially key if you’re recovering from an injury.