Modern demands in life result in most of us having busy minds and tension in our bodies. In Tai Chi practise, we seek to dispel this busyness and tension to allow natural, beautiful and graceful qualities of both mind and body to emerge. This is in part why Tai Chi is practised through slow, intentional, co-ordinated, relaxed, and flowing movements where mind and body are integrated and in harmony. This is a place where our bodies and minds work best. It's also a very pleasant place to be.
In my classes, I put an emphasis on gentle warm up exercises that require a soft focus of attention and promote relaxation and unwinding. The effect can be a highly meditative experience that develops refined and functional mindful awareness over time.
The majority of fitness and exercise regimes today tend to focus on doing, many of which are also forceful, stressing and straining the body in order to develop strength and flexibility. In Tai Chi this is reversed by centering your attention the quality of your movements, on sensing and feeling them. This promotes a clear and centred state of mind which will get you out of your head and better in touch with your body. This has a remarkable grounding effect which helps day-to-day physical and mental function.
Whilst the exercises have a great relaxing and unifying effect on both body and mind, they simultaneously develop strength and flexibility without causing strain.
Following the warmups, I begin teaching the Chen-style old form (Laojia), starting with a short section, which is practised and learned with an emphasis on natural continuous flowing movement and rhythm. The video below shows this short sequence of movements:
I teach my classes to be fully inclusive; so that they are suitable for everyone. Whilst I have a philosophy guiding my teaching approach, everyone is different, so learning can adapted to you individually. There is no pressure to follow a strict curriculum or course timeline. Progress is guided by you.
Learning Tai Chi is a little but like peeling an onion. There are almost infinite layers of refinement available to explore, should you choose to do so. You can simply learn some warmup exercises and a short form (continuous flowing movements and postures) and practise those, or you can delve as deeply as you like into the intricacies of Tai Chi as a highly sophisticated art form as well as its underlying philosophies - it's entirely up to you!
My personal inclination that has developed as I've become increasingly hooked by Tai Chi, is to explore its artful practise as an ongoing inquiry in lifelong learning. And so it influences every part of my life.