I'm a little frustrated. It's my own fault, so it's not anything to be concerned about. I was just talking to someone about tai chi and he referred to it as "just another exercise program for fitness". This was a medical professional and I expected a little bit more from him.
Does tai chi improve fitness? Absolutely! Does it "just" improve fitness? NO! Tai chi is not the same as Zumba. It is not the same as kick aerobics or spin class. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. They can be an important part of a fitness program for some people. But tai chi should not classified as a fitness program the same as these. It does so much more. Here are 3 ways tai chi is not just a fitness program.
Fitness is not the goal of tai chi. Tai chi does much more for you than improving your fitness. That's only a side effect. Tai chi develops physical coordination, proprioception, and a strong mind-body connection.
Tai chi helps develop balance in your life. I don't mean the physical ability to balance. I mean balance in your life. It helps us develop calmness and stillness. It helps us deal with the ups and downs that happen in life. It helps you slow down and enjoy the pleasures of the moment, the slow movement as you shift your weight from one posture to another, the feeling of the muscles working together, and the way your mind learns to lead the movements.
Tai chi has incredible mental and physical depth. Every time you think you start to understand something in tai chi, you realize that there can be more to it. It's not that there is a precise way that tai chi "must" be done. It's that it takes you time to understand the correct way for you to do it. The correct way is different for every person. Your teacher can help you start to understand what this means.
See here for an explanation of proprioception
See here for an explanation of weight shifting
See here for an explanation of the depths of tai chi
© 2012 Eric Borreson