Tai chi progressively develops gross and subtle physical coordination, and it is one of the most sophisticated methods of integrated whole-body movement. Tai chi training can be as strenuous and invigorating as aerobics, even though it can look deceptively easy and relaxed. Often those starting to practice tai chi use muscles that they didn’t know they had, and before you really learn to relax and soften your body, the habitual tension stored in your legs and shoulders may make your body tremble and ache during initial stages of practice.
However, you don’t have to be an expert to benefit from learning tai chi – even when done poorly, tai chi fosters vibrant health from deep within your body. As you grow in experience and are able to pay more attention to your body alignments and the energy mechanics of tai chi, you’ll find you gain more and more from your practice.
A core principle of tai chi practice is that of alignment – making sure all parts of the body are in an optimum place in relation to each other; this includes the position of the head, spine, knees, elbows, arms, hands and legs, as well as a number of aspects of the body below the skin. When the body is relaxed and in alignment everything that moves through it can do so in a less impeded way, helping to ensure a free-flow in the energetic system, oxygen, blood and nutrients as well as increasing the overall ease of movement.