It’s been a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend for me. I feel I’ve had the best of both worlds this year: a healthy mix of socializing and enough time spent alone to recharge. One thing I picked up again in earnest during my moments of solitude this holiday is tai chi. If you are like me and want the benefits of yoga with a little more action involved, tai chi is a great alternative. You may also be surprised to learn that it is considered a martial art!
For me, however, it feels more like a very slow dance with oneself. You are not rushed, but you are not always completely still, either. Those who are really good at it seem to move fluidly, like a smooth ribbon dancing in the wind. Talk about an effective way to relax the body and mind! I often find myself lost in the movement of tai chi. My mind is completely relaxed, and yet, my body is constantly in motion.
Each morning during this long weekend, I have woken up to begin my day with a 20 minute tai chi routine. As a beginner, the exercises I do are simple, but even when done slowly and intentionally, I have managed to work up a light sweat, and the next day my muscles are stiff with that wonderful achy feeling that lets you know you’ve given yourself a good workout.
For anyone interested in trying tai chi, here is a great video that introduces you to 10 beginner moves. (And just to dispel some myths out there, no, this is not an exercise for older people. I’m under 40 and definitely find tai chi beneficial for my physical and mental health. And no, I do not wear the stereotypical loose Chinese-inspired garb you often see in tai chi videos—the practice really does need a visual facelift for modern-day society, in my opinion. Yoga pants and a tee-shirt work perfectly for me and sometimes I’ll practice in silence or to a relaxing soundtrack on Spotify. This morning, I found a Spotify playlist comprised of various nature sounds and did my exercises to that. It was completely relaxing and energizing at the same time.)
To learn more about the physical and mental benefits of tai chi, I recommend reading these links below:
- The Physical and Psychological Benefits of T’ai Chi Ch’uan (Psychology Today)
- The Health Benefits of Tai Chi (Harvard Health)
- Comparison of the Benefits of Tai Chi and Yoga (Livestrong)
- The Benefits of Tai Chi (Berkley Wellness)
It’s a crazy world out there, and if you were braver than I was and faced the chaos of Black Friday shopping this weekend, then you’ll really appreciate the exercises introduced in the video above. Treat yourself. It costs you nothing except for a few minutes of your time, and you’ll feel wonderful afterwards.