When the beginner has their first Tai Chi lesson, it is so different from Western exercise that they may wonder how it could possibly be beneficial. The exercise sequence looks like an effortless slow-motion dance and is generally performed silently although some teachers play quiet, relaxing music. The instructor asks the beginner ‘to calm their mind down as if they are going to sleep and to concentrate on feeling the movement of the body’ while they perform the exercises.
The mind state in Tai Chi is unlike that in most Western exercise, such as at the gym while on the bike or treadmill, which is often accompanied by listening to loud music with a fast beat, and sometimes whilst watching a TV monitor. The exercise improves physical fitness but with the distraction of music and video there is less attention on the movement of specific areas of the body.
One of the aims of Tai Chi is to develop awareness of the body so that it can be moved most efficiently. This makes it excellent in improving sporting performance and may also be one of the reasons that sprains, and strains are rare in Tai Chi making it a very safe form of exercise.
Research is showing that the meditative aspect of Tai Chi can help reduce high blood pressure, stress, depression, and anxiety, improve the quality of sleep and aid relaxation. These benefits are equally important as developing physical fitness so why not jog down to your local class and try some Tai Chi?