Tai-chi is a form of exercise which anyone can do and which can have many beneficial effects on the physical and mental health. It is an ancient system from China that consists of slow, flowing movements that are excellent for correcting balance and helps to keep the joints supple and flexible.
The two main aspects of Tai-chi are conditioning the body while being able to focus the mind. By simply practicing the set of exercises that make up Tai-chi for 20 minutes per day, you are able to let go of stress much more quickly while increasing your stamina and health.
The health benefits of Tai-chi are numerous and include learning how to breathe more efficiently, a lowering of blood pressure, an increase in bone density, more flexible joints and a feeling of overall wellness.
The styles and types of Tai-chi
There are three main types and styles of Tai-Chi; these are Yang style, Chen style and Wu style.
All types and styles have around 24 to 35 steps which all flow into one long movement, but they can be learnt a few steps at a time until you can do the individual steps without having to pause. Once you have accomplished this you are then able to move on to combining the steps into one fluid movement.
There is always a starting movement and an end movement, while in-between there are movements with names such as â€œpart the wild horse maneâ€, â€œhand strums the luteâ€ and â€œgrasp the birdâ€™s tailâ€.
The Yang style
The yang style is exceptionally good for developing strength and softness at the same time and is the most popular form of all Tai-Chi. It is a slow form of the exercise which focuses on continuity with the hands being held relaxed and open for most of the time. It is the best place to start when taking up Tai-Chi and consists of 24 steps.
The Chen style
The Chen style is harder to pick up and has a varied pace with a lower stance. There are many lulls and crescendos during the movement and this form consists of 35 steps from the opening move to the closing.
The Wu style
The Wu style comprises of making a series of smaller but more deliberate movements, this form is especially good for those who want to improve their balance and leg strength.
Pushing hands style
Pushing hands is a form of sparring or training for those who perform Tai-Chi, the whole aim of it is to unbalance your opponent by making a series of gentle pushing movements, while keeping your balance. The winner however is victorious due to skill rather than using brutish force and rough pushing. Skills such as using your energy to its best advantage, being relaxed, using your reactions and awareness all go towards winning.
There are four basic movements to the pushing hands style, the single palm push hands, double fist push hands, double palm push hands and the free style push hands. They are relatively easy to master, however the skills needed to use them can only be developed over time and practice.
There are various way you can learn the basics of Tai-Chi, there are many DVD`s and videos, books with full color pictures or taking a class. Without a doubt if you are serious about learning this ancient system then following an instructor is the best way to go, by doing so you are able to learn the correct form of the movements.