The Buoy Blog: What is Tai Chi ?
Jim: Tai Chi is a slow moving exercise program associating meditation and body movements. It is based on the Dao, which is not a religion, but a philosophy, that connects people and nature.
TBB: Why did you like it over other martial arts?
Jim: I used to be a runner. I did marathons, and runs. Running was a way for me to meditate. When I stopped, I was looking for another activity that offers the same. I tried other martial arts, but they were too intense and not relaxing enough. I find in Tai chi the same emotional support as in running. Tai Chi is a creative art design for individuals. It’s more meditative and helps me better.
TBB: What are the benefits of practicing Tai chi?
Jim: Tai Chi relieves stress with deep breathing and focuses on the essential to cultivate calm. It improves balance and helps reduce the risk of falls.
TBB: What improvement in your own health did you notice after years of practicing Tai-chi?
Jim: Tai Chi is always helping me. I had surgery, and I was better faster. It is an excellent addition for any type of recovery.
TBB: In your class, you often ask us to put intention in our movement. What does it means?
Jim: Intention means that you understand why you are moving. Each move has a signification, by circling the bowl you take the energy in it. It’s like in tennis, you adapt the movement of your racket to the trajectory of the ball. It’s a continuous movement from the moment the racket hits the ball, during the exchange, to the end. With Tai Chi it is the same. You feel the muscle that is connected to the movements of your body. You learn to know your body better. You anticipate your movement and it gives more power to your gesture by putting your arm in the right place.
TBB: Tai Chi is a combination of slow movements, deep abdominal breathing and meditation. It seems at the opposite of our modern life. How can we use Tai chi in our super busy everyday life?
Jim: Take time out in small segments. It’s essential to everybody, specially for mothers and mothers who work, because they never get a break in their responsibilities. It’s important to let it go and take time to breathe. The ideal is to practice Tai Chi for 30 minutes per day. You can split it by segments of five minutes each. Breathing is part of Tai Chi. Don’t hold your breath when you exercise. Clean oxygen means clean blood.
By concentrating on our lower Dantian breathing, the center of our energy below the navel, we can relax in any situation. For example, while you are stuck in traffic, place your hands on the wheel and just breathe deeply. I also pretend to turn a bowl in my stomach, or a ball. I focus my attention on my breath, and it calms me down.
We hurry too much to do things. Take time to think about your body movements when you do your everyday tasks.
TBB: Who can practice Tai Chi? Is it good for everybody?
Jim: Yes. There are no restrictions.
TBB: Do we need to have an instructor or can we learn by ourselves?
Jim: You can learn a lot in books. I have shelves crowded with books on Tai Chi. However, it’s nice to have someone who teaches you Tai Chi. You can see as many instructors as you want and choose the one who corresponds to your needs. You can pick from them anything you like. You will always get something useful for you in a class. Take what you need and create your own pot pouri.
With an instructor or by youreself, it takes a lifelong to learn it.
TBB: What is the best way to practice Tai Chi?
Jim: There is no right or wrong when you practice Tai Chi, as I say to my students, “Tai Chi is your art.” You can adapt the movement to make your own form and follow your mood.
I don’t plan when practicing. I adapt my movement to the environment surrounding me. If I see a tree, I will put it in my forms.
We tend to fight against our environment while it’s easier to go with the flow, adapt and be supple like the grass. In a crowd, you can adapt your pace and your movement to the people and to bypass them. If you try to force your way into the crowd, you won’t succeed.
TBB: What would you say to people who hesitate to try Tai Chi?
Jim: Try it, and take the time to enjoy what you are doing.