T'ai Chi For Dummies book cover

T'ai Chi For Dummies

Published: August 30, 2001

Overview

For nearly 5,000 years, people have practiced T’ai Chi as a way to prolong life, build strength and stamina, improve concentration, and achieve psychological balance. Hundreds of millions of satisfied customers can’t be wrong.

Whether you already dabble in T’ai Chi and would like to get a deeper understanding of the basics, or you’re only thinking about trying it and want to find out more before you take the plunge, T’ai Chi For Dummies is for you. In plain English, Therese Iknoian and Manny Fuentes demystify T’ai Chi principles and practices for Westerners. They unravel exotic sounding terms and concepts and break down movements in ways that more traditional instructors and authors either can’t or won’t. And with the help of crystal-clear illustrations and step-by-step instructions, they get you on track with a T’ai Chi fitness program guaranteed to help you:

  • Increase balance and flexibility
  • Combat fatigue and reduce stress
  • Tone muscles
  • Unlock your power centers and boost energy
  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Breathe “mindfully” and meditate
  • Enhance your sense of inner peace and well-being

Discover just how easy it can be to make T’ai Chi and its sister discipline Qigong part of your everyday life. With this friendly reference as your guide you’ll quickly master the basic movements and forms, as well as:

  • T’ai Chi’s Yang 24-Movement Form
  • Qigong and Push Hands techniques
  • Techniques that help speed recovery from specific injuries
  • T’ai Chi movements for aerobic exercise
Exercise is good for the body and soul. Now let Therese Iknoian and Manny Fuentes show you how to energize, find inner peace, and tone your muscles with the gentle art of T’ai Chi.
For nearly 5,000 years, people have practiced T’ai Chi as a way to prolong life, build strength and stamina, improve concentration, and achieve psychological balance. Hundreds of millions of satisfied customers can’t be wrong.

Whether you already dabble in T’ai Chi and would like to get a deeper understanding of the basics, or you’re only thinking about trying it and want to find out more before you take the plunge, T’ai Chi For Dummies is for you. In plain English, Therese Iknoian and Manny Fuentes demystify T’ai Chi principles and practices for Westerners. They unravel exotic sounding terms and concepts and break down movements in ways that more traditional instructors and authors either can’t or won’t. And with the help of crystal-clear illustrations and step-by-step instructions, they get you on track with a T’ai Chi fitness program guaranteed to help you:

  • Increase balance
and flexibility
  • Combat fatigue and reduce stress
  • Tone muscles
  • Unlock your power centers and boost energy
  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Breathe “mindfully” and meditate
  • Enhance your sense of inner peace and well-being
  • Discover just how easy it can be to make T’ai Chi and its sister discipline Qigong part of your everyday life. With this friendly reference as your guide you’ll quickly master the basic movements and forms, as well as:

    • T’ai Chi’s Yang 24-Movement Form
    • Qigong and Push Hands techniques
    • Techniques that help speed recovery from specific injuries
    • T’ai Chi movements for aerobic exercise
    Exercise is good for the body and soul. Now let Therese Iknoian and Manny Fuentes show you how to energize, find inner peace, and tone your muscles with the gentle art of T’ai Chi.
    T’ai Chi For Dummies Cheat Sheet

    The ancient practice of T’ai Chi and Qigong includes postures and movements, as well as a philosophy. T’ai Chi also has its own lingo — words and concepts you need to know.

    Articles From The Book

    28 results

    Tai Chi Articles

    The Benefits of Practicing T'ai Chi

    Practicing T’ai Chi on a regular basis may give you physical and mental benefits, depending on how much, at what intensity, with what seriousness, and how often you incorporate it into your life.

    Some of the benefits listed here aren’t completely proven by fully recognized scientific studies. Nonetheless, the various benefits of T'ai Chi may include the following:

    • Better cholesterol levels

    • Decreased depression

    • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease

    • Increased immunity (less sickness)

    • Increased muscle strength and flexibility

    • Less lower back pain

    • Less asthma

    Developing better balance with T'ai Chi

    Good balance has been easier to study than some other areas. And T’ai Chi develops this skill well. The physical balance that you can hone through the movements in T’ai Chi can train the proprioception of the nerves and muscles (basically, the muscle sense). When the muscles and nerves can sense correctly how and when to contract or fire, you don’t fall or get hurt. Staying upright can help decrease not only sports injuries but also broken hips in seniors, especially if a senior’s bones are affected by bone-weakening osteoporosis.

    Stamping out stress with T'ai Chi

    A slow and prolonged exhalation (the breathing out part of breathing) has been shown to enhance a reaction in the body that causes overall muscular relaxation. If you are more relaxed, you handle your stress and your emotions more easily, and you may even sleep better.

    When you aren’t bound up by stress and anxiety, you feel better on a day-to-day basis. But living without stress and anger may also lower your blood pressure, lower your bad cholesterol level, and cause decreases in other factors that can raise your risk of heart disease.

    Managing chronic disease with T'ai Chi

    Chronic disease can mean any number of medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), arthritis, fibromyalgia (a muscle disease that causes ongoing pain), or just chronic pain. Practicing full and deep breathing can stimulate the lungs and can cause positive increases in the amount of air you can get into and out of your lungs. If you can get more air in and more air out, you may be able to diminish the effects of asthma or other breathing ailments.

    People with arthritis or other kinds of joint pain know that every move can hurt, so they tend to move less. And the reduced movement causes the muscles and tendons that support their joints to get very weak. Over the years, studies have shown that simple, gentle movements help relieve arthritis and other chronic pain and allow people with these ailments to function better day-to-day. T’ai Chi has been used as the gentle movement needed to stimulate the joints and free up movement to relieve pain. This same kind of movement may help alleviate chronic pain.

    Fostering fitness with T'ai Chi

    Maybe T’ai Chi is also about complementing your overall fitness — balancing muscles, strengthening them, helping them become more flexible, or helping your heart and lungs develop more aerobic capacity. Maybe you want to finish a marathon or ride a bike better up hills. Even the gentle movements involved in T’ai Chi can help.

    For someone old or young who is very out of shape, the gentle movements of T’ai Chi can push muscles to get stronger and more flexible. Of course, if you push your forms a bit faster, make the squatting movements lower, or make the kicks higher, you can improve your muscles and flexibility even more — perhaps as much as with some traditional exercise. Some studies in Asia have shown more flexibility and strength as a result of a T’ai Chi practice.

    Tai Chi Articles

    Improving Your Flexibility through T'ai Chi

    You can perform T'ai Chi routines to target a specific area, such as flexibility in your trunk, hips, back, and legs. This is helpful if you don’t have enough time available for a complete T'ai Chi practice.

    Lunging side to side in T'ai Chi

    Lunging side to side is a warm-up movement, depicted below. By taking a wide stance and sliding your hips back and forth, you stretch not only your hips but also your inner thighs and legs.

    Kick with Left Heel — Kick with Right Heel in T'ai Chi

    For the best stretch, do the Kick with Left Heel — Kick with Right Heel movements slowly, lifting each leg as high as you can while keeping good body position. If you want, you can do this mini-form without the arms and hands so that you can focus on the leg and lower body position. These kicks fine-tune balance and leg strength.

    1. Start in a good T’ai Chi Posture.

      Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly, relax your chest and shoulders, and let your arms hang naturally at your sides.

    2. Step into the first Kick with Heel, choosing one side to start.

      Be sure to inhale before you start and be sure to exhale with the kicks.

    3. After your foot has reached its peak, lower it slowly to the floor and put your weight on it, shifting your body so your opposite foot lifts off the ground and you're in a Centering Step.

    4. From the Centering Step, do the Kick with Heel on the opposite side.

    5. Repeat this sequence.

      You move slightly forward with each kick.

    A little bonus to this sequence is the balance and leg strength that the kicks help fine-tune.

    Tai Chi Articles

    T'ai Chi's Standing Meditation

    For quieting the mind, calming the body, and developing chi, nothing surpasses T'ai Chi's standing meditation practice. It can give you an even better (and more peaceful) kick-start to your day than that cuppa joe.

    You can also use standing meditation to give yourself a little stress-free oasis in your day. (Try the bathroom stall at your office if you have to — who will be the wiser?) This is also a fine way to unwind at day’s end.

    Any time is a meditative time, but dawn and dusk are the tops:

    • Dawn: Yang energy of the day begins to grow, and yin energy of the night begins to wane at dawn. Practicing meditation in the morning allows you to greet the day with a fresh, open, and relaxed mind, ready to face whatever the day brings.

    • Dusk: Yang energy dissipates, while yin energy grows as the sun sets. Practicing in the evening allows the accumulated mental sludge and sediment to settle or even drift away so that you can enjoy a peaceful evening.

    The Standing Like a Tree forms are important calming stances and powerful developers of the mind and energy flow. Do your daily Standing Like a Tree meditation with several arm positions, or alternate one each day. Here are some variations to try (as depicted from left to right, below):

    • Place palms on table top: Hold your hands in front of your hips with the palms facing down and the elbows slightly bent. Fingers are facing forward and are spread slightly without being forced. You feel as if you have your palms resting on a hip-high table in front of you.

    • Embrace the tree: Hold your arms out in front of you with the elbows soft and rounded. A slight curve goes from your shoulder down to your fingertips. Imagine that you are hugging a tree very gently.

    • Frame your face: This is the most advanced position because it takes the most endurance to hold your arms up. Lift your hands up so that they frame your face. You kind of look like you are holding very large binoculars except your palms are turned slightly more outward and your fingers are softly extended.