The movements of Tai Chi have their origins in Taoist health practices, Yoga, the martial arts and the I Ching, or “Change Scriptures” — the ancient Chinese book of wisdom. Tai Chi, or “supreme ultimate,” consists of a set of graceful and relaxed movements that are the result of hundreds of years of development.
“Playing the form,” as the Chinese call doing the movements, can intensify our energy and help us to develop the grace of a dancer, the precision of movement of a martial artist, the tranquility of a Taoist monk and the joyous playfulness of a child.
Millions of people practice these movements daily to maintain health, promote longevity, cure illness and alleviate discomfort.
The movements are easy to do by people of all ages, strong or weak, healthy or ill and are designed to promote flexibility by opening the joints of the body, especially the spine. By using the natural energy of the body, the movements:
- Increase the circulation of blood, lymph, breath and energy
- Increase strength
- Relieve back and other pain
While learning, we can experience an awareness of the relationship between the graceful, relaxed movements of a healthy body and a calm, alert and disciplined mind. Through practice of these movements, we can develop and maintain health, relaxation and peace of both mind and body, becoming increasingly sensitive to the ever-flowing interplay of Yin and Yang, the two balancing forces of the universe.
The Chinese describe this balancing of the female and male energies as “iron wrapped in cotton,” firmness within softness, awareness and yielding rather than force and resistance. Tai Chi can also be used as a moving meditation for centering and grounding: a path to further discovery of our true essential inner nature and self.