What Class Do I Start With?
Every class we offer is based on the essential principles of Tai Chi. The styles, length of form and postures or movements may differ slightly. We offer different classes for different physical abilities and interests. Everything depends on your goals, your personality, and schedule. All are fun to practice and each class has a depth to enjoy after the initial form is learned.
- Tai Chi From the Arthritis Foundation and Tai Chi for Health are two great beginning classes that can be taken by anyone with any ability even though their name indicates a target population. These classes contain many Qigong movements that aid in breathing and relaxation.
- Five Element Form and 5 Element Qigong and Soaring Crane Qigong is also a beginning class but is slightly different because of the theme. This can be taken in conjunction with other classes.
- Yang 37 Short Form, Sun 73 an 42 Combined Forms are more vigorous and longer. If you are looking for a more traditional form these are the classes. We will be using advanced warm-ups, Qigong and “play” with additional movements. Beginners who are active even if they have mild chronic conditions can join these classes.
Please read class descriptions and call Cathi if you are still in doubt.
What Should I Wear or Bring?
- Comfortable clothes – Wear loose-fitting, soft, friendly clothes. Consider breathable fabrics and layers to keep you cool as you practice harder
- Shoes – Wear flat well-fitting shoes that are clean and indoor dedicated. Snug supportive walking shoes can help maintain balance and provide cushioning during class. If the weight-bearing joints in your knees, hips and or spine don’t need the support of a walking shoe, then you may choose to wear a pair of cloth, rubber or cloth soled shoes. If you have any chronic circulation conditions or diabetes, shoes are mandatory.
- Water bottle – You should drink plenty of water before, during and after class to replenish the fluids you lose during exercise
What Should I Expect From The First Class?
Arrive early to read the class guidelines and sign the release form. The class starts on time and ends on time! Questions on personal form correction are done during class or sometimes after class. Then class usually begins with a greeting, then a walk, and a circle with sharing time or introductions. Warm-ups, standing Qigong, form instruction, and lastly cool-downs. Time flies! In the first few classes, you may feel a bit awkward but as you play with the movements in class and then at home, they will become more familiar. Typically if there are more advanced students in the class they will surround you and you will be directly behind the instructor. It will be easier to learn that way. And then you are no longer new to the class!
When Will I See The Benefits?
It is written that with the first breath in Tai Chi and Qigong, The Remembering Breath, your body relaxes. We practice the form to learn about ourselves. When we focus we relax. When we relax we learn the form and the Essential Principles easier. Then in time, you may find that your steps are lighter, breathing deeper, and your muscles stronger.
The key is to practice, have patience and have fun!
How Long Will It Take Me To Learn A Form?
I have seen the ” Aha” expression of understanding the essential principles of a form in as short as 2-3 weeks but generally, you will become familiar with the basic sequence of the shorter forms such as the Arthritis or Diabetes/Health in 3-6 months. The longer forms may take 6-12 months.
Once familiar with the movements, the focus shifts onto the depth of each movement and form, and how to apply this depth to your everyday life.
Do not be discouraged by these numbers. The key to understanding is practice, asking questions and relaxing in movement.
How Often Should I Practice?
Take your time getting started. Try 10 minutes each day and work up to 40-60 minutes. You can divide your Tai Chi throughout the day or do Tai Chi all at once. Always take the approach that Tai Chi is playing not practice. In fact, in China, they refer to playing Tai Chi because there is so much depth in the movements.
The warm-ups, once learned, can be done continuously as a form and they take about 10 minutes to finish. Add on each class instruction to your play. Move around and have fun.
What Happens If I Forget The Form At Home?
When you do something over and over your body and mind “connects” and remembers the movement. Sometimes if one “try’s” too hard the form can’t be called up from memory. The key is to “just do it”. Imagine the form. Allow your body to move and flow.
In the beginning, there is no right or wrong way to play. When you come to class your form will be corrected and over time you will feel the flow of movement without thinking. That is just the beginning. Soon your “flow” will spill into your daily life.
Isn’t Tai Chi Just for Older People or Someone Who Is Sick?
It’s true Tai Chi and Qigong improves the quality of life for seniors or people of all ages who have illnesses or chronic conditions. The benefits have been proven in studies.
However, Tai Chi has been taught to professional sports teams to help the athletes with their cross-training for calm focus, agility, and flow. We have all heard about “getting into the zone”. In Tai Chi and Qigong, one is very much focused.
For those who are in need of rehabilitation after a sports injury or operation, Tai Chi is a gentle exercise. Do, however, consult your medical professionals before beginning any exercise.
What Does Mind, Body, and Spirit Mean? Is Tai Chi Religious?
The mind is the most important aspect of health. It’s a universally accepted fact that the mind controls the body. Positive attitudes and strong minds help to heal. Tai chi teaches the student to be aware of the intrinsic energy from which he or she can perceive greater self-control and empowerment. Tai chi helps to relax and improve concentration. To practice, tai chi one must be present and mindful of what they are doing at that moment.
Spirit in this context refers to feeling good rather than “spirit” in the sense of religious spirituality. At times after practicing Tai Chi you feel rejuvenated and it is so powerful in uplifting one’s spirit and energy.
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