Practicing Tai Chi

It is the discovery process in our practice that is the
seed for the next improvement.

Prepare:  Before you begin your daily practice take time to relax and release your body and clear and quiet your mind and smile! Practice with no worries, no concerns, no self corrections.

Regardless of the amount of time you have, don’t be in a hurry, don’t rush your practice. Take your time. Remember sometimes Less is More. Enjoy the practice!

What to Practice: If you have trouble deciding what to practice or tend to practice the same exercises/forms every day, here’s a link to a list of exercises (not ALL of the exercises) that might be helpful. Mix it up. Play! If you don’t recognize some of the exercises/forms on the list, ask your instructor. It may be that you know that particular exercise by a different name or perhaps haven’t learned it yet.

Regardless of whatever else you choose to practice be sure to include Golden Beam to Restore the Column and Tuo Yue Gong in your practices! Do not neglect those two important exercises.

Qigong and Foundational Exercises

Focused Practice: This can be done in addition to the above and throughout the day. Grandmaster Wu said it is good to do focused practice while watching TV as we are less likely to obsess about the movement.

  • Pick one principle, a single focus for your practice. Focus your practice on that one movement for 2-5 minutes. You can practice while you are waiting for your morning coffee or tea to brew or while the toast toasts or your oatmeal cooks, in any “quiet” moments of the day. Quiet moments don’t need to be moments when you are alone but rather moments when you can quiet your mind and focus. You will find small moments to practice during the day at home and at work.
  • Or focus on one small detail of the movement; work in small amounts. Practice the first 1/10 of a movement.
  • Or focus on one point, whether it is the Yong Quan, Bai Hui, the weight shift, the turning of the waist, or the release of your shoulder, whatever. Pay attention to your body, discover what is happening. It is the discovery process in our practice that is the seed for the next improvement. Be gentle with yourself, discover, don’t critique.

100 Times for 100 Days: Another traditional Taoist practice method is to practice one movement for 100 times for 100 days. Some find the discipline very helpful. This type of practice is good to help change our habits. Be sure to touch base with your instructor from time to time during that 100 days to make sure you are on the right path. At the “end” you will have a much deeper understanding of the movement and of the way your body moves.

Play:As you conclude your daily practice, take another “few” minutes to relax your mind and your expectations and play your Tai Chi.

It is best to practice your Tai Chi every day, ideally in the morning and in the evening. Practicing in the morning is said to “bath” your body in Qi to prepare for the day; practicing in the evening is said to help you shed off any stresses from the day and prepare you for sleep.

Enjoy your practice!

Pam Hultgren
Lead Instructor, Northfield, IL