top of page

Tai Chi - How To Get Started

Updated: May 4, 2023




Tai Chi is a Chinese term that means supreme ultimate¹. It is also the name of an ancient Chinese discipline that involves a series of slow, gentle movements and physical postures, a meditative state of mind, and controlled breathing²³⁴. Tai Chi originated as a martial art, but it is now practiced for its health benefits and meditation²⁵. Tai Chi is sometimes described as meditation in motion because it promotes serenity through gentle movements that connect the mind and body⁶.

(1) Tai chi Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tai%20chi.

(2) Tai chi - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi.

(3) What Is Tai Chi? - Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-tai-chi-5073074.

(4) Tai Chi: What You Need To Know | NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/tai-chi-what-you-need-to-know.

(5) The Health Benefits of Tai Chi - Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi.


There are five main types or styles of Tai Chi that are named after the Chinese families who originated them: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun²⁴⁶. Each style follows the same premise of combining meditation and martial arts, but there are some slight variations in appearance and training methods¹².


Chen is the oldest and original form of Tai Chi that dates back to the 1600s. It alternates between fast and slow movements with bursts of power and low stances¹².


Yang is the most popular and widely practiced style of Tai Chi around the world. It features smooth, graceful, and continuous movements with a moderate pace and high stances¹².


Wu/Hao is also known as Wu Yu-hsiang style. It is one of the rarest and most refined styles of Tai Chi. It emphasizes small, subtle, and internal movements with a focus on balance and energy flow¹².


Wu is also known as Wu Chien-chuan style. It is derived from the Yang style and has some similarities with it. It features medium-sized movements with a focus on relaxation and softness¹².


Sun is the youngest and most modern style of Tai Chi that was created in the early 20th century. It combines elements from the other four styles and incorporates footwork from another martial art called Bagua. It features lively, agile, and flexible movements with a focus on breathing and mental concentration¹².


(1) Main 5 styles of Tai Chi - The Tai Chi Effect. https://thetaichieffect.com/styles-of-tai-chi/.

(2) Tai chi - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi.

(3) Of All The Tai Chi Styles, Which Types of Tai Chi Are the Best?. https://taichibasics.com/which-tai-chi-style-is-the-best/.

(4) What Is Tai Chi? - Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-tai-chi-5073074.

(5) Tai Chi Moves: How to Get Started, Benefits, Seniors, and More - Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/tai-chi-moves.

(6) Tai Chi: What You Need To Know | NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/tai-chi-what-you-need-to-know.


How long does it take to learn Tai chi? The answer to this question may vary depending on several factors, such as the style and form of Tai Chi you are learning, the number and length of your sessions, your personal goals and preferences, and your level of practice and dedication¹⁵.

On average, it takes 3-12 months to learn Tai Chi if you attend weekly classes and practice in between until you have the basic movements memorized¹. However, learning Tai Chi is not just about memorizing the moves, but also about developing a deeper understanding of the principles and philosophy behind them. Therefore, it may take longer to master the art and achieve a higher level of skill and proficiency⁵.


Some people may prefer to learn Tai Chi by themselves through online courses or videos. This can be a convenient and flexible option, but it may also require more self-discipline and motivation. It may take 30-40 hours of practice to learn Tai Chi by yourself, but you may miss out on some feedback and guidance from a qualified instructor⁵.


Ultimately, learning Tai Chi is a lifelong journey that can bring you many health benefits and personal satisfaction. You can start with a short or simple form that suits your needs and abilities, and then progress to more advanced or complex forms as you gain more experience and confidence¹²³⁴⁶. The most important thing is to enjoy the process and have fun!


(1) How Long Does It Take to Learn Tai Chi? - Tai Chi Basics. https://taichibasics.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-tai-chi/.

(2) Exactly How Long Does It Take To Learn Tai Chi?. https://craftofcombat.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-tai-chi/.

(3) The Essential Guide to Tai Chi for Beginners - Shape. https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/tai-chi-for-beginners.

(4) An Introduction to Tai Chi | Harvard University. https://pll.harvard.edu/course/introduction-tai-chi.

(5) A Beginner's Guide to Learning Tai Chi - InsideHook. https://www.insidehook.com/article/health-and-fitness/tai-chi-beginners-guide.

(6) The health benefits of tai chi - Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi.


Tai Chi has many health benefits for people of all ages and fitness levels. Some of the benefits include¹²³⁴⁵:

Reducing stress and anxiety. Tai Chi can help you relax and calm your mind through gentle movements and breathing techniques. It can also improve your mood and mental well-being.


Improving balance and preventing falls. Tai Chi can strengthen your muscles and joints, enhance your posture and coordination, and increase your awareness of your body and surroundings. This can help you avoid losing your balance and falling, especially if you are older or have Parkinson's disease.


Relieving pain and improving function. Tai Chi can ease pain and stiffness in your muscles, joints, and bones. It can also improve your flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. This can help you cope with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, back pain, and neck pain.

Boosting brain power and memory. Tai Chi can stimulate your brain activity and cognitive function. It can also enhance your attention, concentration, learning, and memory. This can help you prevent or delay cognitive decline and dementia.


Strengthening your immune system and heart health. Tai Chi can improve your blood circulation and lower your blood pressure. It can also boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. This can help you prevent or manage cardiovascular diseases, infections, and autoimmune disorders.


Tai Chi is a safe and effective way to improve your physical and mental health. You can practice it anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace. You can also choose a style and form that suits your needs and preferences⁶. Tai Chi is more than just an exercise; it is a way of life that can bring you harmony, peace, and joy.


(1) The Health Benefits of Tai Chi - Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi.

(2) Tai Chi Benefits: Stress Reduction, Weight Loss, for Older Adults. https://www.healthline.com/health/tai-chi-benefits.

(3) Tai Chi: What You Need To Know | NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/tai-chi-what-you-need-to-know.

(4) The Health Benefits of Tai Chi – Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi/.

(5) Tai chi: Benefits, types, and history - Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265507.


The most important thing to consider when choosing what to wear for Tai Chi is comfort. You want to wear clothes that are loose-fitting, stretchy, and breathable. This will allow you to move freely, bend easily, and stay cool during your practice¹²⁴⁵.


Some examples of suitable clothing for Tai Chi are:

Pants: You can wear pants that are made of cotton, linen, or other natural fabrics. They should be roomy enough to let you do wide stances and deep squats without restricting your movement or circulation. You can also wear leggings or sweatpants if you prefer¹²⁴⁵.


Shirts: You can wear shirts that are also made of natural fabrics and have a loose or baggy fit. They should not be too tight or too long, as this can interfere with your posture and balance. You can wear long sleeves or short sleeves depending on the weather and your preference¹²⁴⁵.


Shoes: You can wear shoes that are flat, stable, and flexible. They should have a good grip on the ground and not slip or slide. They should also fit well and not pinch your toes or heels. You can wear sneakers, martial arts shoes, or even go barefoot if you are comfortable with it¹²⁴⁵.


You may also want to bring some water and a towel to stay hydrated and wipe off any sweat during your practice⁵. You may also want to avoid wearing any jewelry, watches, or accessories that can get in the way of your movements or cause injury².


The main goal of Tai Chi is to harmonize your body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, you should wear whatever makes you feel relaxed, confident, and happy².


(1) What to Wear to Practice Tai Chi: A Beginner’s Guide. https://www.activif.com/what-to-wear-to-practice-tai-chi-a-beginners-guide/.

(2) Choosing the Best Tai Chi Clothing for You - Tai Chi Basics. https://taichibasics.com/tai-chi-clothing/.

(3) What should I wear to my first class? - Los Angeles Tai Chi Classes .... https://tcsociety.com/what-to-expect-during-your-first-tai-chi-class.

(4) 6 Must-Know Considerations to Improve Tai Chi for Beginners. https://taichibasics.com/6-must-know-considerations-to-improve-tai-chi-for-beginners/.

(5) Video: What should you wear while doing Tai Chi? - wikiHow. https://www.wikihow.com/Expert-What-To-Wear-During-Tai-Chi.

(6) Three Minute Tai Chi Lesson: What to Wear in Tai Chi # ... - YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8qNSB7l_ns.


Generally, you do not need a doctor's permission to do Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a safe and gentle exercise that can be practiced by people of all ages and fitness levels¹²⁴⁵. However, there are some situations where you may want to consult your doctor before starting Tai Chi, such as:


If you have a chronic or acute medical condition. Tai Chi can help you cope with various health issues, such as pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, heart disease, etc¹³⁴⁵. However, some conditions may require special precautions or modifications to avoid aggravating your symptoms or causing complications.


For example, if you have high blood pressure, you may want to avoid holding your breath or doing inverted poses.


If you have joint problems, you may want to avoid deep squats or twists. Your doctor can advise you on what type and intensity of Tai Chi is suitable for your condition and how to monitor your progress and response².


If you are pregnant or have recently given birth. Tai Chi can be beneficial for pregnant women and new mothers, as it can help them relax, improve their mood, strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, and prepare for labor and delivery². However, some movements may not be appropriate or comfortable for them, especially in the later stages of pregnancy or after a cesarean section. Your doctor can help you determine when and how to start or resume Tai Chi safely and effectively².


If you are taking any medication or supplements. Tai Chi can affect your blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, and other physiological functions¹³⁴⁵. This may interact with some medications or supplements that you are taking, such as anticoagulants, beta-blockers, insulin, etc. Your doctor can help you adjust your dosage or timing of your medication or supplement intake to avoid any adverse effects or interactions².


If you decide to do Tai Chi without consulting your doctor, you should still follow some general guidelines to ensure your safety and enjoyment²⁶, such as:


Choose a qualified and experienced instructor. There is no standard training or licensing for Tai Chi instructors, so you should rely on recommendations from friends or clinicians and your own judgment. Look for an instructor who has a good reputation, a solid background in Tai Chi and its principles, and a teaching style that matches your needs and preferences. You should also communicate with your instructor about your goals and expectations, your health status and history, and any questions or concerns that you may have².


Wear comfortable and appropriate clothing and shoes. You should wear clothes that are loose-fitting, stretchy, and breathable. They should allow you to move freely, bend easily, and stay cool during your practice. You should also wear shoes that are flat, stable, and flexible. They should have a good grip on the ground and not slip or slide. They should also fit well and not pinch your toes or heels. You can also go barefoot if you prefer²⁶.


Start slowly and gradually. You should start with a short or simple form of Tai Chi that suits your abilities and fitness level. You should also warm up before each session and cool down after each session to prevent injury and soreness. You should not push yourself beyond your limits or force any movement that causes pain or discomfort. You should listen to your body and respect its signals. You should also practice regularly and consistently to improve your skills and benefits²⁶.


Have fun and enjoy the process. You should not treat Tai Chi as a chore or a competition. You should treat it as a way of enhancing your well-being and happiness. You should focus on the present moment and the sensations that you experience during your practice. You should also appreciate the beauty and harmony of the movements and the connection that you establish with yourself, others, and nature²⁶.


Tai Chi is a wonderful exercise that can bring you many benefits for your body, mind, and spirit. However, it is always wise to check with your doctor before starting any new physical activity, especially if you have any medical conditions or concerns². By doing so, you can ensure that you do Tai Chi safely and effectively².


(1) Tai Chi: What You Need To Know | NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/tai-chi-what-you-need-to-know.

(2) The health benefits of tai chi - Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi.

(3) Protect your bones with tai chi - Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/protect-your-bones-with-tai-chi.

(4) Tai Chi Benefits: Stress Reduction, Weight Loss, for Older Adults. https://www.healthline.com/health/tai-chi-benefits.

(5) Tai Chi May Be As Good As Exercise for Treating Chronic Pain - Time. https://time.com/5209233/tai-chi-chronic-pain/.

(6) Tai Chi Moves: How to Get Started, Benefits, Seniors, and More - Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/tai-chi-moves.


Warming up before Tai Chi is important to prevent injury and prepare your body and mind for the practice. There are many exercises that you can do to warm up before Tai Chi, but here are some common ones that you can try¹²³⁴⁵:


Neck rotations. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms relaxed by your sides. Slowly rotate your head to the right, then to the back, then to the left, then to the front. Repeat this several times, then reverse the direction. This can help you loosen your neck muscles and improve your blood flow to your brain¹²³.


Shoulder rolls. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms relaxed by your sides. Slowly lift your shoulders up to your ears, then roll them back, down, and forward. Repeat this several times, then reverse the direction. This can help you relax your shoulder muscles and joints and open your chest¹²³.


Arm swings. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms relaxed by your sides. Slowly swing your arms forward and backward, alternating between left and right. Gradually increase the range and speed of your swings until you feel a gentle stretch in your arms and back. This can help you warm up your arms and upper body and improve your circulation¹²³.


Waist twists. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms relaxed by your sides. Slowly twist your waist to the right, then to the left, keeping your hips and legs stable. You can also swing your arms along with your waist for more momentum. Repeat this several times, gradually increasing the range and speed of your twists until you feel a gentle stretch in your waist and lower back. This can help you loosen your waist muscles and spine and stimulate your internal organs¹²³.


Hip circles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Slowly rotate your hips in a circular motion, making sure to move them in all directions. Repeat this several times, then reverse the direction. This can help you relax your hip muscles and joints and improve your balance¹²³.


Knee bends. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your thighs. Slowly bend your knees as if you are sitting on a chair, keeping your back straight and your heels on the ground. Then slowly straighten your legs and stand up again. Repeat this several times, gradually increasing the depth of your bends until you feel a gentle stretch in your legs and buttocks. This can help you strengthen your leg muscles and joints and prepare them for Tai Chi movements¹²³.


Ankle rotations. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and shift your weight to one leg. Lift the other leg slightly off the ground and rotate your ankle in a circular motion, making sure to move it in all directions. Repeat this several times, then reverse the direction. Then switch legs and repeat with the other ankle. This can help you loosen your ankle muscles and joints and improve their flexibility¹²³.


These are some examples of warm up exercises that you can do before Tai Chi, but you can also find more online or from a qualified instructor¹²³. You should do these exercises slowly, gently, and mindfully, paying attention to how you feel and breathe¹. You should also adjust them according to your own needs and preferences. The goal is to warm up your whole body, increase your energy flow, and calm your mind before Tai Chi.


(1) Tai Chi Warm Up Exercise Tutorial (Full version - 23 mins). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV-rZsddrp8.

(2) Tai Chi Warm Up Exercises - YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI_Ys_5G1mQ.

(3) 12 Min- Morning Tai Chi Warm up exercise with Master Ping Wu. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWMBuMX7_R4.

(4) Tai Chi Warm-up Exercises - YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4vtnjWkR5s.

(5) Tai Chi Warm Up Exercises - Neck 1 - gatech.edu. https://techsage.gatech.edu/sites/default/files/2021-01/Warm%20Up%20Exercises.pdf.

(6) Warm Up and Stretching Exercises - Tai Chi for Health Institute. https://taichiforhealthinstitute.org/warm-up-and-stretching-exercises/.

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Commentaires

Noté 0 étoile sur 5.
Pas encore de note

Ajouter une note
bottom of page