Tai Chi originated in ancient China. Tai means “supreme”, Chi means “origin”. So Tai Chi refers to “supreme origin”. It is, in general, a safe and effective exercise for health of body and mind. It focuses on one’s ultimate inner power and wellbeing. Tai Chi practice is based on a holistic understanding of human as part of the universe and constant interaction between inner body and external body– universe.
Tai Chi has been practiced and developed for centuries in China before spreading to other parts of the world. It has gained worldwide recognition and popularity in recent years due to its health benefits. The slow and graceful movements of Tai Chi relax and strengthen the body and mind, help to relieve stress, develop flexibility and coordination. The high level of Tai Chi requires diligent and persistent study and practice for many years; however, it is said to be one of the most effective options for the majority of people to begin the body-mind exercise. It is easy to learn, suitable for any age, fun and cost-effective. Once you feel the harmony of the flow of Qi (life energy) through the body smoothly and powerfully, you are on the way to achieving your ultimate goal – the optimal health of your body and mind.
Tai Chi practice reflects the philosophy of Daoism – returning to the origin of things, including your own nature. The more practice you have, the more understanding you will gain about yourself and your inner wellbeing under the context of the universe. Unlike some sports, it does not require one to compete against others. By contrast, you are on the way to discovering who you truly are – your natural spontaneity, vitality and freedom in your own way and at your own pace through Tai Chi practice.
There are five major Tai Chi schools worldwide, namely Yang style, Chen style, Sun Style, two Wu (second and third tone respectively in Chinese pronunciation) styles. Though each style has its own distinctive character, – for instance, Yang style gestures appear gentle, slow and graceful whereas Chen style performers demonstrate more vigorous and slow-fast mixed movements, however, these five styles share fundamental Tai Chi practice principles.
According to Peter Wayne, the author of the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, there are eight active ingredients of Tai Chi well worthy of sharing here.
1. Awareness, including mindfulness and focused attention.
2. Intention, including belief and expectation.
3. Structural integration, including dynamic form and function.
4. Active relaxation. Tai Chi’s circular, flowing motion helps shift the body and mind into deeper levels of relaxation, and is a form of meditation in motion.
5. Strengthening and flexibility.
6. Natural, freer breathing.
7. Social support.
8. Embodied spirituality.
And there are a lot of more unlisted here for you to explore at your own pace and your own time.