Can I learn Tai Chi at home?

Tai Chi: This is how it keeps you healthy

What is tai chi

Tai Chi (alternatively: Taiji) is the colloquial abbreviation for "Tai Chi Chuan" or "Taijiquan" (pronounced: Dei Dschi Tschüan). The fact that the ancient Chinese martial art was later also called Chinese shadow boxing in Europe is due to the fact that the movements look like you're wrestling with an invisible opponent.

In China, Tai Chi is a popular sport: in the early morning you can see people practicing in public gardens and parks everywhere. In Germany, Tai Chi is considered a health sport. Because body awareness is an important aspect of Tai Chi, postural errors can be corrected through regular practice, muscle cramps can be released and mobility increased.

In addition, the torso area in particular is strengthened and the spine is relieved by the stronger holding muscles. The psyche also benefits from the harmonious dance movements and deep abdominal breathing: Stress is relieved and relaxation promoted.

You will notice some positive effects of Tai Chi after a short time, because Tai Chi exercises are not designed for performance and competition. You work with what is. Accordingly, Tai Chi is also a learning and development process that lasts a lifetime and can be deepened.

It is best to practice with an experienced teacher who will take corrective action if an exercise is done incorrectly or improperly. When choosing your course, make sure that the teacher can demonstrate a good training in Tai Chi.

Tai Chi philosophy

The "Chi" in Tai Chi describes an all-encompassing energy. This life energy, which is also called Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), should be strengthened through regular practice, namely through:

  • Body awareness and control
  • Relaxation through breathing and flowing movements
  • inner harmony

Tai Chi: forms and duration of the exercise

The focus of Tai Chi training is on precisely defined sequences, the so-called forms. These body positions, also known as images, flow into one another. They have clear, almost poetic names such as "The crane spreads its wings" or "Roaming over the lotus". The posture is always relaxed and upright. Breathing, movements and mind are synchronized with one another.

Yang Tai Chi, the style of the Yang family, is particularly widespread in Europe. The individual movements are carried out softly and fluently as if in slow motion. In contrast, other styles also involve fast movements and jumps.

A classic Tai Chi sequence can take a good one and a half hours per exercise unit. In order to respond to the nowadays almost notorious lack of time, short forms were gradually developed that only take 15 to 20 minutes, but are also beneficial to health.

Tip: Find a trial course to test whether Tai Chi is something for you. Many clubs and adult education centers now offer guided lessons.

Tai Chi - the equipment

Tai Chi is an extremely humble sport from the point of view of the equipment supervisor. You don't need any tools or devices. Accordingly, Tai Chi exercises are well suited for at home, the flowing movements can be practiced wherever there is space.

The traditional tai chi clothing is cotton or silk suits. However, comfortable clothing in which you can move freely is sufficient for guided course lessons or training at home. Since tai chi also works with the feet, shoes made of fabric with flexible soles are recommended. Some also practice in socks or barefoot.

Tai Chi - that brings it

Tai Chi Chuan is used in TCM to promote and maintain health. The exercises are intended to activate the self-healing powers, reduce general and chronic fatigue, reduce restrictions in the musculoskeletal system and strengthen the immune system.

Since the position of the joints in Tai Chi exercises is always geared towards good body statics, the muscles can work optimally. The body comes into equilibrium and can relax. Conscious, deep breathing into the stomach should also “turn off” the head.

Studies have shown that tai chi can maintain muscle strength and increase physical capacity (strength, flexibility, endurance). “Tai Chi could be a good alternative for gentle exercise, especially for people who suffer from several diseases,” concludes a Canadian meta-study of 21 studies on this topic.

However, if you have physical or psychological problems, always speak to your doctor first and get his or her okay for regular tai chi sessions.

Tai Chi & Calorie Consumption

As spiritual as the approach of Tai Chi may be, it is also rational in this sport with the consumption of calories: the more you practice, the more calories you burn. In concrete terms: You can get rid of 200 to 300 kilocalories per hour with Tai Chi.

Those who exercise regularly - ideally ten to 20 minutes a day in the morning and evening - can also use it to lose weight. This is confirmed by a study by a team of researchers from the University of Queensland. After three months of regular tai chi practice, both weight and waist circumference of the subjects decreased. The presumed reason: the movements of Tai Chi stimulate the muscles in a special way.

For whom is tai chi suitable?

In general, Tai Chi can be practiced risk-free by anyone who can move slowly and is given competent instruction. Because Tai Chi can be adapted to the needs of the practitioner. So far, no undesirable side effects are known. However, it is important to listen to yourself and to the body's signals. Don't force anything!

Tai chi is healthy for the mind and body in many ways. The Far Eastern art of movement is particularly suitable for people who suffer from the following illnesses and symptoms:

Back pain: The gentle, focused processes and guided exercises make you flexible, improve muscle strength and body stability.

Knee osteoarthritis: For knee osteoarthritis, tai chi improves joint mobility and relieves pain. In a study in which test subjects exercised regularly for three months, the quality of life also improved subjectively, the tai chi group suffered less from depression than the comparison group.

Cardio-vascular (pre) diseases: Regular tai chi training lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Rheumatism: Above all, the flowing movements can improve the mobility of the ankle joint and the range of motion of the patient in general.

Parkinson's disease: In a US study, the posture of those with Parkinson's disease who practiced Tai Chi improved compared to a group who only did stretching exercises. Tai Chi practitioners also fell less frequently than the control group.

Depression / Burnout: The meditative movements can lighten the mood of people with depression. The processes have a calming effect and help reduce stress. Deep breathing promotes relaxation.

Tai Chi & Pregnancy

The slow, gentle movements are ideal for expectant mothers. Through regular exercise, women improve their mobility, build body awareness and learn to relax through conscious breathing. This not only makes you more relaxed and resilient during pregnancy, but also helps you to better cope with the strains and pain of childbirth.

Tai Chi - Mistakes To Avoid

In principle, Tai Chi is easy to learn. However, you should avoid the following mistakes in order to fully enjoy the health benefits of the Far Eastern art of movement:

Switching between styles: Especially at the beginning, you should stick to one style and one teacher. This allows your body to get used to the movements slowly and constantly. The more natural breathing and processes flow, the more relaxing and effective the Tai Chi practice is.

Only practice now and then: Tai Chi can only develop its full effect if it is practiced regularly. You should be able and willing to take 15 minutes a day for this.

Careless execution: Even if the movements in Tai Chi look playful and easy: In the long run, a wrong knee position can turn the health-promoting effect into a health-damaging one. Get regular corrections from an experienced teacher.

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