How to Optimize Your Tai Chi Workout
Just as a normal sports workout has recommended stages--including warming up, the hard burn, and cooling down--you’ll get the most out of your tai chi workout by following a similar structure.
Here’s a strategy to get the most out of your tai chi workout time.
• Opening your practice
• Warm up exercises
• Executing your tai chi form
• Closing your practice
• Continuing to practice tai chi principles
Opening. Don’t bring feelings of discouragement, anger, or other negativity from the day to the workout. Physically shake them off if you have to. You don’t need those feelings in your life and certainly not in your tai chi practice.
Focus on Your Workout. Be present at your workout session. Don’t bring your grocery list, financial worries, or other concerns. Park them outside. They’ll still be there when you’re done, and they may not even seem as pressing or burdensome after your tai chi workout.
Begin with some tai chi warm-ups
. These exercises help to prepare your body for the movements and energy flows in tai chi. They also help to calm your mind
Because of time restrictions, you may find it useful to vary the warm ups you do each day. Maybe a longer standing practice on some days, and on others, more moving qi gong drills.After the warm ups, your mind should be calm and your body relaxed or at the least, less tense than before.
Execute your tai chi form. Repeat it as many times as time will allow. Try not to break the rhythm of your practice at the end of the form, but smoothly resume the form from the beginning. This is important for building your internal energy.
Repeating the form doesn’t necessarily mean doing it the same way each time. For example, you may choose to focus on specific body alignments when doing the form, such as keeping your shoulders dropped or your knees properly aligned. At other times, it may be useful to focus on the energy flow to your hands and to your feet.
Closing and Ending Your Workout. To formally close a workout session, return to a neutral standing position with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart, and your arms relaxed and at our sides. Smooth and Store Energy. Begin a process of smoothing and storing your energy. Think of this process as a way of saving some energy for a rainy day.
Place your hands in front of your lower tantien. Reel in the energy from your body to your lower tantien. You may feel the energy cascading and growing around your lower tantien, as more energy is collected from different parts of your body.
After the energy has collected around your lower tantien, take some time until it feels settled and smooth. Then allow it to condense and to enter your tantien, where it will be stored.When more energy cannot be stored, take a few minutes to smooth out any remaining energy. Then, let it re-circulate and re-energize you after your tai chi workout.
After Your Tai Chi Workout
. You’ve officially closed your tai chi workout session and have moved on to other parts of your life. But, you don’t need to wait until your next tai chi workout before using tai chi principles.
Let the benefits and philosophy of tai chi be with you as you go about your day.
Suppose a driver narrowly cuts you off on the freeway. Instead of shooting off a slew of four letter words and sending him a look that could kill, try dropping into the tai chi breathing pattern. Relax your eyes and, as in the tai chi form, keep on moving.
You may find, with practices like this, that your days as well as your life can be rounder, fuller, and smoother—just like well-executed tai chi moves.
Next: Read about the importance of setting aside a regular time for your tai chi workout.