The Chinese ancient arts of Internal Health include Tai Chiquan and Qigong as multi-dimensional practices developing both physical and emotional wellbeing. This is supported by recent medical research which has shown that Tai Chi and Qigong are powerful tools for Mind-Body fitness.
Recently I had a conversation with a Zumba instructor who was new to Tai Chi and new to the idea of learning and deepening a form. She mentioned that if she taught the same routines at every class her students would revolt. My response was that even though I have been practicing the same form of Tai Chi for over 25 years that my practice is never the same twice. This distinction is a main difference between regular exercise and “Mindful Movement”. When developing Tai Chi and Qigong as Mind-Body practices we are self-reflective and focus on the present moment. We do that through careful attention to breathing, postural alignment and somatic awareness.
When we first begin learning Tai Chi and Qigong we start with large movements. As we progress our focus becomes more subtle. It is similar to learning a new language. We start with the learning sounds and vocal patterns and build on our foundation to create words, then sentences, paragraphs and entire stories.
Learning Tai Chi and Qigong is an infinite journey of Mind-Body awareness. We learn to soften our musculature and start feeling our smaller muscles and connective tissue and also to protect our joints. We bring attention to how we move through our Center and learn to incorporate breath work into our movements. We study how to be engaged throughout an entire movement, not only the beginning and end of a movement. There is so much happening in the in-between spaces and the connector movements in the form. I love seeing the light bulb go in when students start to feel this connection themselves.
The wonderful thing about both Tai Chi and Qigong is that they are complete systems unto themselves. Since the practices are about self-awareness the learning is limitless.