“IT IS THE WISDOM OF YOUR OWN SENSES, YOUR OWN MIND AND YOUR OWN BODY TOGETHER AS ONE PROCESS” – CHUNGLIANG AL HUNG
It’s likely that you’ve never given tai chi a go, but once you experience the mind calming and body strengthening benefits of this Chinese martial art, we can guarantee you’ll be hooked.
A favourite for people young and old, tai chi is a weight-bearing exercise (that is, one done while on your feet, so you bear your own weight) and a form of Chinese martial art. Much like acupuncture and herbs, it is an important part of Chinese medicine – it is a holistic experience, increasing blood and energy flow through the gentle contraction and relaxation of the muscles, and promoting a state of meditation through deep breathing and concentration.
“Tai chi is so much more than physical exercise,” explains tai chi instructor Denise Bloom. “It’s relaxing and enjoyable, and one should feel calm, reenergised and in complete balance by the end of the hour.”
With an emphasis on balance, tai chi works both sides of the body equally and, unlike other forms of exercise, is done very gently. Denise teaches two kinds of tai chi classes – one is more casual and easier to follow, while the other focuses on form and requires greater dedication. Both classes begin with deep breathing, meditation and movements that mobilise the joints and move energy through the whole body.
“People really appreciate the opportunity to move in this quiet, relaxed way, and the techniques we work on – like deep breathing, for example – can be taken away and used to calm oneself anywhere, any time,” says Denise. “When we understand that we’re much more than our physical being – we are mind, body, spirit and energy – when something isn’t flowing properly, we certainly become aware of it as our bodies let us know. Tai chi aims to keep things flowing… like a river.”