Ways to Supplement Your T'ai Chi Practice
Trying or reading about other things can supplement your practice so your T’ai Chi actually becomes better. Take a look at the following items, any one of which can help you become a more well-rounded and better T’ai Chi practitioner:
Read a little Taoism: Taoism (dow-ism) is the philosophy underlying T’ai Chi, as well as other Chinese internal martial arts or spiritual and health practices, such as Qigong. Taoism, as a philosophy of going about your life, is not a religion (although it can be a religion practiced in other ways), and it doesn’t request that you give up your current beliefs. This kind of Taoism is a way of living in — and looking at — the world harmoniously. It advocates simplicity and selflessness.
Understanding the basic principles of Taoism can enhance your T’ai Chi practice, particularly a solid understanding of the concept of yin and yang.
Watch T’ai Chi videos: You can always pick up more by watching other teachers. If you choose to study with a teacher, videos can help you with lessons in class. If you study on your own, videos can help expand your world with extra instruction. Every teacher has his or her own way of doing things. Be open-minded to these variations. Expose yourself to them gladly. Only with a broader view can you determine what is best for you.
Peruse T’ai Chi books: Books can be a valuable supplement to your practice, although finding out all you need to from one book is difficult. However, books can be great resources and references as you progress along the path. For starters, check out T'ai Chi For Dummies by Therese Iknoian (published by Wiley).
Watch yourself on video: Just as watching sports on TV can be an enlightening way to pick up technique — good and bad! — watching yourself can be an eye-opener, too.
Try meditating: Meditation, in some small way, is a part of every good T’ai Chi class or practice session. So what about the sitting meditations? They are another facet of a practice and are something you can try apart from your T’ai Chi session.
Practice mentally: Great athletes visualize or mentally rehearse a game or technique as a part of training. You can do the same thing. Start by relaxing your mind with a little meditation. Then visualize yourself moving through a T’ai Chi movement or form.
Dabble in other martial arts: Reading books, studying with teachers of other martial arts styles, or even watching a few Jackie Chan movies (really!) can enhance your practice and open your mind to additional applications of your T’ai Chi techniques.
Apply T’ai Chi principles to everything you do: There are opportunities to put a little T’ai Chi practice into practically everything you do. Here are a few physical ways:
Sink a little and do some abdominal breathing when stuck in a line at the bank or grocery store.
Write T’ai Chi-style. Grasp the pen or pencil with the least amount of force necessary.
Drive with a relaxed grip on the steering wheel rather than white-knuckling your way down the road.
Pull doors open by shifting your weight rather than pulling with your arms.