Practicing Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan
Every new student that joins one of my classes is asked a simple question – “Why do you want to study Tai Chi?” I usually get the same responses:
- “To improve my balance, coordination, flexibility.”
- “ To learn to relax.”
- “For health and personal wellness.”
- “To help me with my balance”.
But what about for those who have been studying for a number of months and years? Has your reason for studying Tai Chi changed over the months and years? How often do you practice? How do you practice?
Many people just starting out understand how relaxed they feel after taking one or two classes with a good instructor. But the common mistake made, especially for beginners, is the dedication to the art of Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan. Qigong and Tai Chi offer a laundry list of possible benefits when performed on a regular basis:
- Improved body alignment and flexibility
- Peaceful, meditative movements
- Bridge between mind, body and spirit
- Self defense and martial arts
- Internal healing
In order to reap these and the many other benefits not listed one needs to dedicate time to practice. Just attending a one hour class two or three times a week isn’t enough. A good instructor would encourage his or her students to practice what they learned in class; take ample notes on what they’ve done and bring questions to class; and recognize, over time, any changes that occur personally.
What if I practice incorrectly?
Some students are afraid they will practice “incorrectly”. The operative word here is “practice”! Whether or not it is correct is not important! Taking the time to understand what you have learned is the key; write down your problem areas and bring them to your instructor’s attention– it will be addressed.
What is a good amount of time to practice?
My Sifu always provided us with a gauge: “for every 30 minutes of practice you develop one drop of Chi”. Cultivating and storing chi is essential for your daily life, especially in the chaotic world we live in. So, using that measurement, a good daily practice should last at least 30 minutes. 15 to 20 minutes can set your mind and body on a good direction for you day. If you are able to squeeze in 10 minutes of qigong or run through a form at lunch time that counts, too!
How do you practice? What aspects of practicing Tai Chi interests you the most?
Experienced and novice learners should practice what is in their heart. Decide ahead of time what you plan to do and length of time:
- Practice your forms, either the entire form or parts of it; focus on problem areas and repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Think of the martial aspects of the postures – does this improve your execution?
- Practice with a partner – apply two person form techniques if possible.
- Note your techniques when using weapons.
- Most importantly, remember the 10 essential points of Tai Chi.
As you become more disciplined in your daily practice of Qigong and Tai Chi you will notice improvements in your physical, mental and spiritual well being. You will learn to use your “Kung Fu” in everything you do.
So, if you haven’t already, join the Tai Chi revolution – find a good instructor and start now – you won’t regret the results!