Tai Chi as a Mind-Body Practice: Warm up Exercises

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Finding ways to enhance our resilience, maintain wellness, and develop effective leadership skills has become increasingly important especially now that we are in a fast paced world. Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, offers a holistic approach to achieving these goals. With its graceful movements, deep breathing, and focused mindset, Tai Chi has proven to be a powerful tool for individuals seeking to navigate life's ups and downs while cultivating resilience, promoting wellness, and fostering effective leadership qualities. 

 

Tai Chi as an Effective Mind-Body Practice

 

In Chinese philosophy, Tai Chi is believed to promote the flow of vital energy, known as Qi or Chi, through the body's energy channels. Regular practice helps balance and enhance the flow of Qi, leading to increased vitality and overall well-being. It also emphasizes present-moment awareness and relaxation, providing a respite from the multitasking nature of modern life. By practicing Tai Chi, individuals can reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and restore mental clarity. 

 

As for the leaders, Tai Chi cultivates a sense of presence and mindfulness, allowing leaders to fully engage with their surroundings, make better decisions, and respond empathetically to the needs of their team members. Tai Chi's emphasis on fluidity and adaptation helps leaders develop the ability to navigate change and uncertainty with resilience. By embracing the principles of Tai Chi, leaders can better manage setbacks, inspire their teams, and adapt their strategies to achieve success.

 

What to Expect in Tai Chi

 

Tai Chi is a journey that unfolds gradually over time. Beginners start with simple movements and gradually learn more complex forms as they develop proficiency. Tai Chi movements often involve shifting weight from one leg to another while maintaining stability and balance. Through regular practice, Tai Chi improves balance, coordination, and proprioception (awareness of body positioning), which are essential for stability and preventing falls.

 

You are encouraged to focus on deep, diaphragmatic breathing, coordinating their breath with the movements. This conscious breathing helps to calm the mind, relax the body, and enhance the flow of energy.

 

Tai Chi Warm ups

Tai Chi typically begins with a warm-up session to prepare your body for the practice. This may involve gentle stretching exercises and loosening joints to improve flexibility and mobility. Here are some warm up tai chi exercises that you can try.

 

Warm up 1

The focus of this Tai Chi exercise or warm up is to rotate the upper body in a slow version. The fluid movement aims will begin with simple stretching with the goal of putting your body into a relaxed state so the Chi (energy) is naturally generated and will flow through the body to act on any blockage.

Benefits: Relaxing the hip joints, strengthening the kidney qi, promoting the activities of the whole body including the internal organs, strengthening the circulation, strengthening the spine, head and neck and the feet.

 

  • Stand firmly with your feet wider than the width of your shoulders
  • With your arms leading the upper body, slowly rotate to the left side, bend your left knee so that the lower body does not follow the upper body when it rotates or moves. Repeat the same steps but this time, rotate the body to the right side.
  • Ensure that the central axis including your head and neck are firmly in place (without turning).
  • Continue to rotate the arms and the upper body in a slow motion, as if pulling against the lower body and the central axis of the head and neck (stretching).

- When the body feels it has done enough, let go, relax, surrender, or whatever comfortable feeling you have, and return to a natural standing position.

- Repeat the same steps with the other side

 

Warm up 2 - 3 repetitions

 

  • Stand naturally
  • Keep your feet straight and bend your torso forward.
  • Use your arms to push your thighs or grab your calves to bring your torso as close to your legs as possible.
  • Hold the position for a moment.
  • Slowly continue to push your thighs with your palms, then bend your knees to bring your torso upright.
  • Support the whole body to stand upright
  • Rest for a while and then proceed with the next steps

 

  • Stand naturally (feet can be close together)
  • Slowly raise arms, palms together, to extend body upwards
  • Support for a while
  • Release and relax as much as possible and let the arms slowly drop from the top to the sides.

Note: Slowly stretch to maximum, hold for a moment, then relax and return to original position

Benefits: Eliminates tension and anxiety, promotes relaxation and sleep, relaxes the joints, especially the shoulders, kidneys and spine, increases blood circulation.

If you want to know more about this practice, feel free to contact us. We can help you with your questions about Tai Chi and also arrange a consultation with Tai Chi master Lawrence Tse.

 

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