Taiji - A Part of Life

Every morning, standing over the center of gravity, with a straight spine, bent knees and relaxed breathing, millions of people start Taiji. Taiji wakes us up like music to our ears, eases us into actionregardless of our mental or physical status, triggers the deepest part of our nerves, and activates our brains.  It energizes us.  As our feet heat up, our hands electrify, we realize the amount of calories the gentle and low impact Taiji has just burned.  Many consider a good start of the day is nothing, but gaining that meditative focus.  Taiji, the so-called moving meditation, becomes part of our daily routine that we cannot do without.  


Tai chi chuan, or Taijichuan, or Taiji has been practiced for health reasons for thousands of years.  Whether by groups in parks, or an individual in a courtyard, people old and young, practice Taiji everyday around the world, particularly in China, preserving thousands of years of tradition.  Most modern styles of Taiji can be traced back to one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu and Sun.                 

It is its slowness instead of speed, its softness instead of hardness, its relaxation instead of tension, its repetitiveness instead of abrupt changes that grounds us.  The key of Taiji is the use of leverage through joints based on coordination in relaxation, and how the leverage that is generated gently through slow and repetitive motions increases and opens the internal circulation, namely breath, body heat, blood, lymph, peristalsis.  A body finds its way to its own nature and balance.  A mind is aware of this inner balance.  Mentally and physically, it enables a person to moderate any extremes of behavior and attitude.  The result is to reverse the physical effects of stress and allow more native energy to be available to us, which in turn produces a positive impact on our bodies and minds. 

The concept of the Taiji, literally supreme ultimate, is rooted inChinese philosophy including Taoism and Confucianism.  Taiji moves around a circle, and every movement is part of the circle; circle after circle, one intermingling with another, it forms a unified circling movement we can not resist.  It is all about the balance of Yin and Yang, no matter what styles you are practicing. Yin, in Taiji, is represented by these slow, repetitive, meditative and low impact motions; when Yang kicks in, this motion becomes more realistic, active, even fast and high impact.  You move slowly before the quick and strong kick.  You bend low in order to stand high.  Toughness is demonstrated through softness.  The gentle, slow motion generates heat and burns calories more than you think. Yin and Yang appear to be opposites, but they are not opposites in absolute terms.  They are only relative.  They are interdependent, and one can not exit without the other.  Yin in Yang, and Yang in Yin, and at times, Yin becomes Yang, and Yang becomes Yin.   

In essence, that is Taiji in practice.


Learning Taiji requires patience, persistence, and practice.  DVDs likeTai Chi for Health: Yang Long Form and T'ai Chi for Health: Yang Short Form 37 Form are great aids to Taiji learning and practicing. Although the video has room to improve, it is a winner due to its clear instructions, graceful movements, and elegant demonstrations.