Frequently Asked Questions

Beginning Tai Chi

If you have not done Tai Chi before, the experience you face will probably be new and initially quite alien. However, in time you will become more familiar with the Tai Chi way of moving as will you become accustomed to the effects of Chi flowing within the body. It is also helpful to always remember to approach Tai Chi in a relaxed way, and let your interest and involvement develop at its own natural pace. Try not to learn any new postures until you are fully confident with those that you have learnt previously. Work at your own rate and bear in mind that not everything has to be learnt in the first session – quality is always better than quantity.

How and When can I practice ?

Tai Chi can virtually be done at any time of the day or night. Pick a quiet time to go through your Tai Chi routines. Some choose to practise in the early hours of the morning when the world around them is at its quietest, and the air is at its freshest. Some use it to refresh themselves after a hard day’s work. Tai Chi is flexible, and should you decide to a give it a little time each day, the rewards it brings are worth all the time and effort you put in.

Starting with a short routine practised each day Make time for yourself by deciding on a realistic part of the day and discipline yourself to adhere to the time you choose. Sticking to this regular will give you the peace of mind you need to relax and concentrate on your Tai Chi practice.

Where should I practice ?

Tai Chi can be practised both indoors and outdoors. Any indoor space used should be well ventilated and cool. If you decide to practice outdoors you should make sure that the wind isn’t too strong, and that you dress appropriately for the temperature. Draughty, windy, or cold conditions are said to cool the body too quickly and cause tension through the tightening of muscles. Direct sunlight should also be avoided, as this can cause our body systems to overheat and lose excess body fluids through sweat and heavy panting. Parks, riversides and even our own backyards in spring and autumn are usually ideal. But perhaps the most important factor of any venue you choose is that it should be quiet and free of disturbance or distractions, so that you can focus on the Tai Chi practice ahead.

What should I wear when practicing ?

No special clothing is required for the practice of Tai Chi. Any loose-fitting clothing will be suitable as long as it will allow you to move with complete freedom. Simply dressing in tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt are usually ideal for giving freedom of movement. Tai Chi should also be practised in light thin-soled footwear or even barefoot. The Chinese slipper (or Kung Fu shoe) is perfect for practice. Trainers can sometimes be heavy and with a high raised sole can be cumbersome for sensitive floor contact as well as make twisting movements more awkward.

Are there any restrictions in my practice ?

Perhaps one of the only things that will restrict your practice is the timing of when food is eaten. As a general rule, it is best not to practise until an hour after a full meal, as this may give rise to ill feelings of nausea, stomach discomfort, dizziness and even fainting. Similarly, practising when you are hungry is not a good idea either. Hunger is usually a symptom that fuel stores may already be low. To practise when you are hungry can therefore only lead to imbalance and illness, as fuel stores are unable to meet bodily demands.

Can illness, injury or disability prevent me from practicing Tai Chi ?

Tai Chi can benefit all despite illness, injury or disability, and it is rare that its exercises do not improve or alleviate any problems or complaints. Whatever difficulties you may have, they need not restrict or compromise your practice of the art. Its movements are a means to an end, and in many cases they can be adapted (with the help of an able Tai Chi instructor) to accommodate you and your needs. As long as you adhere to the principles you stand to gain as much as any other person. Tai Chi is about relating to the mind, body and spirit, and it is in their relationships with one another that we can all find ways of getting in tune with that inner experience, to harness and express Chi in a more natural way.

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