Interest and demand for tai chi classes are on the rise. According to a 2019 article in the fitness magazine Shape, Why Tai Chi Belongs in Your Wellness Routine, Pinterest included tai chi in its Top 100 trends for 2018, noting a 189% increase in searches. Many are turning to tai chi for its slow mindful movements for both health and stress reduction.
Tai chi has been called moving meditation. People attending a tai chi class for the first time come in with high expectations, often believing that they will experience the serenity associated with tai chi in the first few classes. New class participants frequently comment to me that tai chi is much more difficult than they expected. They are surprised by the focus and mental concentration that tai chi requires.
There are different types of meditation. Some require stillness. Tai chi is a form of “Mindful Meditation” that involves movement. The Oxford Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
When teaching a Tai Chi for Health class it is important to set expectations for your class participants. Explain to them Dr. Lam’s Step Wise Progressive Teaching Method (SWPTM). Let them know the SWPTM not only will help them learn a form, but it is also an activity in mindfulness. Breaking the movement will down helps participants to be present in the moment both mentally and physically and to experience each part of the movement. If they feel any discomfort, ask them to explore the movement safely to make it more comfortable. Give them silence and space to help them experience the mindful meditation that is unique to tai chi.
This article originally appeared in Dr Lam Tai Chi for Health Newsletter-Issue Number 222, February 2020. All of Dr. Lams Newsletters are available here: Tai Chi for Health Institute Newsletters