Originally developed as a martial arts system, Tai Chi has been used in China to achieve general mental and physical wellbeing for centuries.
Tai Chi consists of performing a slow, smooth sequence of movements that reflect the natural motions of the body and, by requiring a high degree of concentration, also help still and calm the mind. Increasingly, people around the world are embracing the martial art and the number of people practising in Australia continues to grow.
Keen to find out what Tai Chi has to offer, be. magazine headed down to one of the free, no obligation classes available in a multitude of locations across the country. Here’s what we learned…
Getting started with Tai Chi
Chief Instructor Master Han Jin Song explained that the aim of Tai Chi is to cultivate and stimulate the internal chi circulation within the body. The idea is that good health depends on harmony and, by practicing Tai Chi, we can balance the Yin and the Yang within our bodies, helping to release emotional tension and increase awareness.
The class began with a sequence of synchronised breathing and movements to help focus the mind and bring our breath, body and mind into alignment. Our instructor then led us through the routine of twelve flowing poses that make up the basic level of Tai Chi practice (the more advanced sequence consists of twenty-four poses). The atmosphere in the class is one of collective concentration and calm, while our bodies are in perpetual motion performing the routines.
Having never tried Tai Chi before, it was surprising how natural the movements felt. Each pose can be explained in terms of its fighting origins, yet the practice is gentle and without aggression of any kind.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for Tai Chi’s rise in popularity is its accessibility to people of all ages. Anyone, regardless of age or fitness level can practice and benefit from Tai Chi.
Health benefits of Tai Chi
While many turn to Tai Chi as an alternative or complementary treatment for medical conditions, it is also a great way for anyone to relax and has proven a successful way to deal with stress, as well as physical symptoms.
The sense of community during the class adds to the practice’s appeal, and it is easy to understand why thousands of Tai Chi devotees choose to gather outdoors to perform the routines en masse with the added pleasure of doing so in the fresh air.
As well as the numerous indoor locations where classes are held, Tai Chi Australia offers free outdoor classes every Tuesday morning at Melbourne’s Federation Square, embracing the all-encompassing spirit of the practice.
Want to try it yourself? Find a location near you at taichiaustralia.com.au