Today health issues are on the agenda everywhere. It has become more obvious that the individual must take an active role in preserving and maintaining his or her own health. We realize that there is no miracle procedure, or drug, or person that can "cure" us, or rid us of disease. We see the effects of environment and stress on the body; we are becoming more aware of the role of the mind and the emotions on health and the quality of living. As conscious individuals we realize the power of our attitude, therefore, we see the power we have within ourselves to affect our health.
Tai Chi is the personification of this. It helps the individual to focus, to recognize and to strengthen body, mind and attitude. The practice encourages discipline. One learns a series of graceful and flowing movements which are both challenging and rewarding, hence the practitioner is inspired to do them routinely. At first, it's a hobby, soon it's a habit, and eventually you can't live without it. As it becomes a part of your life, the discipline spills over into other areas. Many people have used the practice as a substitute for other, less healthy habits.
Tai Chi directly leads one to his or her center. This is most obvious on the physical level. When learning the movements and the accompanied breathing, the focus is on erect posture, proper alignment and deep relaxation, so that there is no stress on the back or joints. Students learn a proper stance that roots them to the ground and allows them to be flexible. These qualities are developed in attitude as well.
The deep relaxation builds an inner strength and quiets the mind, giving the practitioner a sense of peace, which reduces the effects of stress. The breathing helps to release muscle tension, which releases emotional stress stored in the muscles, demonstrating the connection between the physical, mental and emotional.
Tai Chi can be learned of people of all ages and walks of life. It is practiced by individuals for their own enhancement; the lessons learned influence one's daily life. The movements were inspired by nature, therefore they can be seen in nature. The person who practices will find that they walk differently, stand differently, even think and feel differently.
The group spirit of being in a class is yet another dimension of the learning process. In its non-competitive atmosphere, everybody work together, breaking through the boundaries of age and social status. Those who come together each week, year after year, come to view their health holistically. They come together to strengthen their bodies, clear their minds and raise their spirits in a natural way, the Tai Chi way.