Tai Chi for Beginners

Tai Chi For Beginners: Getting Started

Wanting to really change up your health and fitness regimen? Tai Chi is an ancient martial art that many people probably recognize by name and some in movement, but is a different style of workout that leaves you feeling relaxed yet like your body did some work. If you’re new to Tai Chi, you’re probably wondering how you should approach getting started.

When first starting Tai Chi, it is important to let yourself be a beginner. You can find programs at certain gyms in person or endless libraries of movements on the internet. You will want to be on a non-slip surface or have shoes with a good grip, but the nice thing about Tai Chi is that it can be done anywhere and by most people. There are lots of benefits from mind, body and spirit, so take your shot at Tai Chi and continue reading to learn how to get started.

Even if you do not fully understand all of the movements and principles right off the bat, keep in mind that you are still doing a lot of good things for your mind, body and spirit by participating in Tai Chi. Everyone had to start somewhere, so stick with it and you will see quick improvements. Contine reading through this article to figure out the best way you should get started down your Tai Chi journey!

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What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is an ancient practice from China that has a couple different modalities, but was originally created as a martial art. Regardless of the type of practice, they all have the same essential principles of helping the self control the mind, body and spirit particularly movements and breathing.

Tai Chi is a very effective exercise that helps improve your your muscular strength but also the state of your mind and spirit. It is slower in nature so you can get connected with yourself and the Earth, getting in a place of being truly present. Aside from it being  aesthetically pleasing, it drives a lot of inner strength, balance, and functional moving that can be applied to everyday life.

Where Did Tai Chi Originate?

Tai Chi was originally started in ancient China and was actually used for martial arts before it become used by the general public. When it started, it was derived from the Qigong and martial arts techniques from thousands of years ago.

Based on the philosophy of Taoism, Tai Chi emphasizes the important of overall balance in the nature of all things. It is a practice meant to help you find harmony and peace, blocking out all the noise that life can bring.  (Follow the link to learn about the three most popular types of tai chi. )

What is the Best Way to Learn Tai Chi? (Online or In Person?)

In terms of learning Tai Chi online or in person, there may be some added benefit to doing it in person, as you can actually ask the instructor questions and they can help cue you and make sure you are moving the way you are supposed to, but online learning has come such a long way that you can get pretty close to the real thing and still make exponential progress.

When it comes to the best way to learn Tai Chi, there are going to be two camps of people:

  • The purists who believe it is a martial art consisting of very complex movements that is harder to pick up on than normal everyday movements, thus advising to learn in person.
  • Those that adore the practice of Tai Chi and believe it can be for anyone and everyone who wants to try, and most can pick it up with relative ease.

As a result, there are a couple different viewpoints on which one might be better, but at the end of the day it will be determined by the level of convenience you want as well as how much money you want to spend on it. You can go to in-person classes at a studio or watch YouTube from the comfort of your own home free of charge.

In the most basic of ways, the best way to learn Tai Chi is to practice it regularly. It might not be the quickest start if you are new to it, but you can’t get better if you don’t keep working at it. Even if you only have time to do it a couple of times each week, a little bit here and there consistently will help give you the basic understanding and principles of the practice.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Tai Chi?

The rate at which you learn Tai Chi will vary by the individual. Some may pick it up faster than others, and some may just want to ease into it once a week and are fine with a slower progression. If you are familiar with exercise and various modalities of working out, then you might pick it up relatively quickly. If you are brand new to exercising then it might take you just a little bit longer, or it might not!

On average, you can start to pick up movements and the practice itself after 3 or 4 classes. Again, this may vary case by case, but overall around 5 classes or so is when most people start to really pick things up.

Many believe that learning Tai Chi does not take much time, but it will take effort. As it is still quite physically demanding, Tai Chi is nothing to scoff at and will definitely make your muscles work. However, it seems to be a great practice for any entry level mover and can introduce foundational components that can be carried over into other exercise routines.

How Many Times a Week Should You Do Tai Chi?

The nice thing about Tai Chi is that you can do shorter time frames of it if you are tight on time, or you can do longer sessions if you really find yourself getting in the zone. Since it is such a different style of exercise unlike normal weight lifting, you do not have to spend an hour or two each time you want to do Tai Chi in order to properly progress.

If you want to get the most out of your Tai Chi practice and experience, then you should do a minimum of 15 minutes per day. There are plenty of YouTube vids to help you get started or you can even try out a Tai Chi Class Online and see if its right for you.  In a perfect world (like that ever happens), then someone would practice Tai Chi every single day for at least that 15 minutes. It is recommended that doing regular shorter bouts of the practice is better than doing 2 or 3 long sessions in a week.

This is because it is easier to understand and pick up something with small, continuous steps of improvement rather than all at once. However, if you have a diverse exercise regimen then some is better than none!

Do You Wear Shoes for Tai Chi?

One of the best things about Tai Chi is that you need little to no equipment in order to do it. For the most part, you can dress as you normally would to exercise. Wearing shorts or sweatpants (dare I neglect the love for leggings that women have), and your favorite top will do just nicely. If you’re going to do it in your home, you could even wear pajamas!

One of the things that might be a useful thing to grab are shoes for Tai Chi. Some people will actually practice barefoot, but one of the biggest things is you do not want to be sliding across the floor while you are in the middle of your workout. You can get Tai Chi shoes that are comfortable and made with a rubber sole to prevent any slipping, and can be worn either inside or outside.

Whether you want to practice barefoot, in your own shoes or in Tai Chi specific shoes, you will unlikely need any other equipment outside of the shoes and your preferred clothing.

Why is Tai Chi so Slow?

Think about how quick we all move every second of every day. How often can you honestly say that you sit down (not in front of a screen) and just be present with yourself? For most of us, the answer is probably, “Not very often.” Tai Chi can help integrate that into your life, yet still make you realize that you’re getting a good workout in all at the same time.

Tai Chi is practiced at a slow pace because it allows us to get reconnected with ourselves via mind, body and spirit. We move so fast in everyday life that we don’t actually think about how we are moving. In Tai Chi, you are aware of how your feet feel on the ground, which muscles you feel working, if you have any weird aches or pains throughout your body.

It not only gives us the ability to control our movements, but our breathing as well. With slower movements come slower and deeper breathing which helps work our diaphragm muscles. As a result your body will have better overall stability as well as enhanced bodily and organ function.

We all love to move fast all the time, so that’s why Tai Chi is the exact opposite in the sense it slows everything down so that it can make everything better. There are many benefits to it that we don’t consider, yet we could all probably use.

Final Thoughts

Tai Chi is a very different experience and workout than most of us are probably used to, which is exactly why it provides has so many great benefits. We don’t normally think of working out as a slow and meditative time, yet Tai Chi gives you quite the physical workout while providing some of the most present moments you might have throughout that day.

As a very inclusive practice, Tai Chi is open and available to anyone and everyone. From people who have been exercising their whole lives to those just now taking control of their health and fitness, there is a wide range of people that have adopted the practice into their healthy lifestyle regimen. Tai Chi has created an environment where people can get connected with themselves to enrich their lives while getting a tough workout at the same time.

This article has given you a good understanding of what Tai Chi is and a few good ways to go about getting started, now all that’s missing is for you to start your own Tai Chi journey!