The Most Underrated Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing

moves flowing into each other

At its very core, tai chi is all about creating harmony within yourself which then extends to your relationships with others and finally with the planet and universe. Tai chi may look complicated with the moves flowing into each other but you can begin with a few simple practices. Your body responds really well to what you do every day. Here’s how you can start your practice.

Practical Philosophy

(start with simple exercises

You can infuse tai chi into everyday life by learning about its three core elements:

Softness
Breath Practice
Natural Movement

To begin with, start with simple things like basic tai chi exercises or a fitness class. Bringing these positive elements into your life helps you form habits that become a part of your life and help you stay grounded even when circumstances get complicated or go beyond your control.

Softness And Breath Practice

the ability to move without inhibiting

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Softness in tai chi refers to a quality of the mind, and breath as a medium to channel your energy. These simple exercises can help you ease into your practice.

Exercise 1:

Stand up for a moment. Now flex every muscle you have and lock every joint in your body. From here, try to walk.

If it doesn’t work, take a deep breath and shake that off. Give your whole body a little shimmy that ripples through every inch of you.

To get that ripple effect, your joints will unlock, and your muscles will let go of some of that tension.

This is the beginning of softness, the ability to move without inhibiting your own movement. The practice of softness progresses when it begins with your mind. Your body follows your mind.

Exercise 2:

Stay standing, and give yourself another full-body shimmy, allow a rippling wave to pass through every inch of you.

Now close your eyes, and take an extra-long, extra-deep breath in. Hold for a moment at the top, and then take an extra-long, extra-unhurried exhale. Repeat this a few more times.

If your body is

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soft enough to be movable, one of the first things you’ll notice is that your breath moves you.

On every inhale it gives you a bit of a lift, putting a little strength into your whole body. And on every exhale, it releases some of the tension, making it just a bit easier to be where you are.

Natural Movement

way to connect with your body

The third practicable element of tai chi is natural movement. It is a way to connect with your body and make it more useful. Once you learn the first five principles of natural movement, you can apply them to everyday activities.

Exercise 3

Start standing comfortably, feet a little wider apart than your hips, so you have a nice stable base. Now take a really deep breath, and let it go. Really let it go.

Maybe give yourself a full-body shimmy, just to check that you’re movable, no excess tension. From here, start to roll your belly and hips to face the left, then the

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right, and repeat.

Allow your arms to hang easily, and just go along for the ride. You can make this rolling motion continuous from one side to the other, and shift your weight a little more to your left foot as you roll to the left, a little more to your right foot as your roll to the left.

You can also vary the pace and vigor of this rolling. Remember to breathe, but don’t worry much about your breath pattern for now. Notice what happens with your arms as you roll around here. They begin to swing.

With practice, you can get your arms to move in any direction, at any speed, just by moving from your center and being relaxed enough in your arms that they go along for the ride.

This exercise helps you practice two principles of natural movement: softness, and movement from the center. As you continue your practice, you’ll be able to move your whole body faster for longer without tiring.