Daily Tai Chi Routine

This routine contains a number of elements, which form part of the overall routine. These elements should be present, in one form or another, whenever you practice, but what you include will depend on time and on experience. As you learn more you can add in additional bits or replace bits. Some days you can do more, others less.

1. Preparation
In its most simple form this is just standing still feet together and relaxing the body and settling the mind. Also it is good to open, by raising the hands above the head and drawing down the light.
Going Further – add in some of the balancing Chi Kung exercises,

2. Loosening and Warming Exercises
These are exercises to loosen, stretch, warm and awaken the body. Pick a few that suit you.
The two exercises I always include are:
– turning the waist
– swinging the arms
Going Further – Raising and lowering the arms, hands on hips, interlocking fingers and stretching, punching etc.

3. Energy Exercise (Chi Kung)
Master Tam
followed by Golden Sun
The Eight Silk Brocade would be a good alternative
Going Further – replace this with any of the Chi Kung routines that you are familiar with

4. Meditation
Three alternatives depending on time and personal choice.
– Just standing and nurturing at the Tan Tien. Spend a couple of minutes just standing and aware of how you feel
– Tai Chi Form (as a moving meditation) do those parts of the form you are most familiar with
– Seated Meditation, just sitting aware of the breath or the energy centres.
If Tai Chi is the main part of the practice then Chi Kung can be minimised, just tuning in before the form. If you are new to tai chi you can repeat the same part of the form several times.
Going Further – Learn more of the tai chi form and go deeper into it, or deepen your meditation practice

5 Closing
Closing Down raising the arms above your head, draw down the light with the intent to close

This routine is aimed at providing a simple basis for tai chi practice, which will bring many of the benefits, but can be used from the start of learning tai chi. It forms the basis of practice which can be developed further and which can be adjusted to suit time and personal need. When you first start chi kung should form the core of your practice. This is not only easier to learn but provides the foundation for tai chi in terms of awakening awareness, developing chi and learning to relax and focus.

Elements of Practice

Preparation lets go of the world around you. It turns the mind inwards, starts to focus and leaves behind all the busy activity. It can also be used to start to open up the chi flow, by rooting to the earth, drawing up to the light and opening the heart. It uses the basis of good posture and vertical alignment.

Loosening and Warming exercises help to relax the physical body and help to stretch and awaken the body. Tai Chi should be performed with emptiness, the body is relaxed and doesn’t demand attention, the mind is quiet, the emotions still. These exercises help to release and let go of tension.

Chi Kung is much easier to learn than Tai Chi but can be equally effective. So when first starting it is good to work with Chi Kung exercises and develop the foundation for Tai Chi and at the same time gain many of the benefits of practice. Chi Kung, or energy exercise, is also an excellent way of preparing yourself to do the Tai Chi form. It does what its name says, it exercises the energy to awaken the chi flow within and around the body. It works with the energy centres within the body and it opens the flow. Chi Kung is very healing, naturally awakening the body’s natural healing ability.

Meditation is the aim of this practice routine, whether it be standing, moving or seated. This part of the routine is to come into the experience of oneness and connection, to whatever level you are able to feel it. Tai Chi is not merely a physical exercise, although it can be used as such. It is an exercise for body, mind and spirit. There is the physical benefits of movement, balance and the energetic healing benefits. There is mental relaxation from focus and concentration on movement, breath, chi flow, visualisation etc. There is also spiritual awareness.

Tai Chi in itself has no religious context nor is it based on a particular belief system or dogma. Yet, by its very name Supreme Ultimate or Great Universal, it is intended to open practitioners to awareness of the Universe. It helps us to awaken to experiences beyond the physical of openness and connection, which we are all capable of and which can be described as spiritual.

The aim of Tai Chi is to make our lives more balanced, by exercising the body, the mind and the spirit. This is based around developing and guarding the three treasures, Jing (essence), Shen (spirit) and Chi (energy).

Remember that the focus here is not to learn but to experience. If you want to learn the Tai chi form use a separate practice session.

Closing is the final part of the routine and its aim is to absorb the benefits and experience of the rest of the session. Take your time just to stand and be aware of how you feel. Acknowledge and own any experiences, e.g. feelings of peacefulness and relaxation Finally close down and feel appreciation.