• Paul Foster

Achieve Balance and Relaxation with T’ai Chi


A few years after I started T’ai Chi, I began to feel disillusioned and so frustrated that I continued attending classes but stopped practising at home. It had started off well, and I had been full of hope because of feelings of internal change earlier on. However, I now felt like I was making no progress despite practising regularly.

Eventually I accepted that passively repeating the form would not bring about the changes I expected. Mental effort was also required in conjunction with physical effort. My form really changed after this realisation... for the better! I still remember my teacher’s surprise: “Paul, now you are doing T’ai Chi!”

T’ai Chi sometimes doesn’t appear to be very much from the outside. Slow and gentle moves which are perhaps suited more for the elderly. Looks, however, can be deceiving. We practice slowly at first to try and learn the moves, and then try to synchronise all the parts of the body as a whole while performing the movements. What is required most is balance and relaxation. Specifically, the unnecessary tension in both the mind and body must be dissolved or released.

Chen style T’ai Chi Chuan is a more vigorous style of T’ai Chi with both slow and fast movements and can be practised in either high or low stances. People are often surprised when they begin to understand both the physical requirements as well as the concentration necessary to perform T’ai Chi well. To practise T’ai Chi means one must learn a totally new way of moving, and therefore requires the breaking of old physical habits as well as the development of muscles that are not used very much. Beginners often feel muscle fatigue in their legs but soon see and feel these muscles grow.

It has been said that T’ai Chi improves balance, the immune system, bone density, joint and muscle strength while lowering blood pressure and relieving anxiety and depression. However, I think the same has been said for many forms of exercise. If T’ai Chi sounds like something you might be interested in doing, the best thing to do is to give it a go and find out for yourself!

To be able to embody the principles of T’ai Chi takes consistent practice over a long time. Still, it is possible to feel for yourself the positive development taking place, even as a beginner. Anyone of any skill level, of any age, or any background can progress and experience for themselves the well-known benefits of T’ai Chi in a short period of time if they practise with an honest desire to understand what’s required.

Paul has been practising Chen style T’ai Chi for over ten years and can often be found practising at Blackalls Park on Saturday mornings. Beginner classes at the Senior Citizens Hall in Adamstown on Tuesdays at 7pm have been postponed temporarily because of COVID restrictions by the council. For more information, call 0430 302 165.

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