Taiji to exercise, relax and energise

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What is taiji?

Taiji, or tai chi as it is commonly called in the West, was originally developed as a martial art in China but evolved, with its links to Taoism, into a gentle form of exercise and meditation. How much one delves into each aspect depends on the person practicing but it is perhaps the richness of its heritage which makes taiji's appeal so enduring.

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Why do it?

As exercise- the slow movements and gentle shifting of weight from foot to foot are hugely beneficial in terms of balance, coordination, core strenth and general fitness. This makes it first class exercise for all ages and for those who are finding their way back to recovery after injury. It is exercise one can practice every day in a small space at home without need of special equipment. One issue people find hard to grasp at the beginning of their journey is that slow does not mean easy - you work within your means but if you are fit and healthy taiji can be as demanding as you need it to be.

As a martial art - even if not using it in a fight situation, the practice of working with other people can really help one to understand the principles of taiji. If you think in terms of giving and receiving energy, taiji helps you learn the art of 'yielding' softly rather than blocking aggressively when on the receiving end of a strong punch, be it physical or verbal. This can be a really useful skill when facing stressful encounters at work or home. The fact that you are continuously drawing on this energy and connecting with other people makes the practice both fun and energising.

As meditation - learning to carve out a space and be in the moment is a skill which people are increasingly finding they yearn for in a world which is busy and demanding. Taiji offers a 'way in' to focus and take control of the mind by concentrating on relaxed breathing and movement from the centre. Because of this taiji has helped many who struggle with stress, anxiety, panic attacks or poor sleep.