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Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that is the antithesis of most exercise programs today. Rather than focusing on fast and vigorous movements, it combines breath control and meditation with slow, strong movements. Tai chi was initially developed for self-defense but has evolved into a popular physical activity for health and relaxation.
One of the remarkable things about tai chi is that it puts very little stress on the muscles and joints. Its low-impact and non-competitive nature makes it suitable for most individuals. While usually practiced standing up, tai chi can also be practiced sitting or lying down if that’s more comfortable for the individual.
Self-study is not recommended for complete beginners who want to learn tai chi safely and accurately. You will also be preventing yourself from enjoying a rewarding experience with others interested in the art. If you want to learn tai chi, learn from a professional! Before you decide, here are the most frequently asked questions regarding tai chi.
There are five major tai chi styles: the Chen, Yang, Wu, and Hao styles. The fifth is called Combination as it takes elements from the other styles. Coming from different time periods, they vary in how expansive the movements are and the speed at which it is practiced. However, there’s really no need to be too concerned about the distinctive styles especially if you’re a beginner. What’s important is that you start somewhere!
Don’t be fooled by how simple this martial art appears to be. In its simplest form, tai chi classes for beginners are great for alleviating stress, improving your mood, and practicing mindfulness. Practicing the proper forms helps improve posture and enhances range of motion. When done standing, it can increase muscle strength in the legs. Anyone can benefit from adding tai chi to their exercise regimen!
Tai chi isn’t just for healthy and fit people. According to research at the Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, patients with chronic heart failure who practiced tai chi regularly reported improved quality of life and better sleep. Other research on the effects of tai chi suggests that it can help improve symptoms of depression, relief from joint pain, improved blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, and even reduce the effects of dementia.
Note that tai chi is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. More research needs to be done to truly understand the full benefits of tai chi for specific conditions. Please seek the advice of a qualified health care provider regarding any prior or existing health condition before taking tai chi classes near you.
Of course! Tai chi is especially popular and beneficial for older adults, especially those over fifty. Since falling is a leading cause of injuries amongst older people, tai chi can become a preventative measure by improving the person’s balance and coordination. Other health benefits of tai chi for seniors include improved sleep, an increased sense of self-worth, increased flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance.
Modifications can be made as necessary for the safety of each individual. For example, seniors that have difficulty standing up for long periods of time can stay seated for as long as they need throughout the practice.
The gentle movements are unlikely to cause injury. To further reduce any miniscule risk of injury it is important to learn tai chi from a professional so you can learn the proper alignment and forms.
If it’s your first time to attend tai chi classes for beginners near you, do not worry! Watch an ongoing class to get a closer view of what goes on in a typical class. You won’t need to practice the moves on your own prior to your first class, but it will give you a better idea of what to expect. You may also notice that not everyone moves exactly the same way; everyone is encouraged to move at their own pace. Modifications will be provided to individuals with limitations when necessary.
Beginner tai chi classes usually start with warm up exercises to loosen up the muscles and joints. Next would be the basic steps; teacher will lead at the front of the class while the rest follows. The careful movements make it possible even for complete beginners to follow.
When taking tai chi classes, make sure to wear comfortable clothes that you are able to move freely in. Wearing garments that are too tight or too loose may distract you. Depending on where the class is being held, it might get hot enough to work up a sweat. Conversely, you might need to wear a light jacket. It would be most convenient to dress in layers so you can add or remove items of clothing as needed.
As for footwear, some choose to go barefoot. This is fine if you are comfortable and are able to keep your balance. Otherwise, it is recommended to wear shoes that are flexible and have a broad base to support your balance.
It’s easy to find tai chi classes for all levels in your location if you know where to look! Type ‘Tai chi’ and your location in the search bar above to find available tai chi classes in your area. Check the descriptions and the titles of the listed classes to see which providers are offering beginner tai chi classes near you. Click on the offering to see the age range taught and you should be able to identify which one is best for you!
We hope you enjoy your Tai Chi classes!
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