Why I practice Tai Chi
It’s difficult if not impossible to articulate what makes practicing tai chi worthwhile. But in many ways that’s precisely the beauty of it. There is so much to be explored in every dimension of oneself—in how we relate to our bodies, our minds, other people, and the entire world around us. In what little experience I’ve had with the practice thus far, it’s become apparent that there are truly infinite possibilities for personal growth. And the degree to which practicing tai chi has already helped me to try and tap into a more relaxed and natural way about myself has been liberating, empowering, and heartening. I look forward to a lifetime of exploration.
I was looking for a meditative activity to help me break my dependence on prescription drugs due to a neuromuscular problem. Seven months later I have made significant progress. Much of the positive change in my life since starting Tai Chi is either a direct result or a synergistic result of practicing Tai Chi. The impact of Tai Chi in my life has been far reaching, and I look forward to see where this will take me in the future.
—Thomas Morris (2017)
The benefits of tai chi manifest themselves in various ways in my life. I enjoy the time shared with others who are also seeking life’s treasures. I enjoy learning to bring into harmony my mind and body.
—Rick Klempan (2017)
“I practice tai chi because it makes me feel good! It is flow that perpetuates even greater flow at every stage. Very rare!”
—James Tao (2017)
“Tai Chi has helped me in all aspects of my life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Physically, I feel much better due to the stretching, the motions, and the breathing. Emotionally, I am calmer and more at peace. It has helped me to be present in the moment, appreciate all of my blessings, and be a better husband, father, and person. Spiritually, it has helped me with my Catholic faith in that my mind doesn’t wander when I pray or study.”
—Mark Kremer (2017)
“Tai Chi connects me to a state of peacefulness and makes me feel happy, the energy that we all generate when we practice together is amazing.”
—Paulo Romero (2017)
“I practice Tai Chi to improve my health and reduce stress. Although I only started to practice Tai Chi six months ago, all my friends say my spirit changed and I look younger. Thanks Gu Feng for giving me opportunities to practice Tai Chi. I enjoy it!”
—Suzhen Li (2017)
“Through tai chi practice I recognize the connectivity and inseparability of movement and the force that empowers it. The joy in my practice is the experience of steady improvement, while knowing there is no rush, as I can do tai chi for the rest of my life. I’m so grateful to have found this art form and the support of the Gu Feng Club where there is no judgment, only nurturing kindness and respectful relating.”
—Roberta Pacino (2017)
“As an acupuncturist, I practice tai chi not only to improve my posture, balance, and overall health, but because it really helps me feel connected and grounded. It also helps strengthen my self-discipline.”
—Aqui Mizrahi (2016)
“It makes you more aware of and connected to your body and how it moves.”
—Ann Hodgson (2016)
“Practicing Tai Chi aids in unifying my mind, body and spirit through movement, balance, meditation and overall fitness. The philosophical, martial and Chinese medical aspects of tai chi enrich the art and make it fertile ground for lifelong study.”
—Eladia Rivera (2016)
“I practice Tai Chi/Qigong almost every day and am told by my physicians that at 86 I am still young. Many of my friends succumbed to diseases and old age. I tried to encourage them to practice Tai Chi and Qigong without avail and lost them. With comparative little effort, one gains a feeling of well being, joy of living, and spiritual, physical and mental health, as well as structure meaning to life. Approximately twenty years ago when I started, I had serious chronic health problems, probably based on high stress and genetic inheritance, and had no serious hope of longevity. The practice of Tai Chi and Qigong have given back so much for such little comparative study, practice and effort.”
—Roger Stevens (2016)
“It is rare to find an exercise that will support you during your life’s journey deepening physical and spiritual exploration… I have found mine in Tai Chi… Then to find the right teachers to guide you deeper into yourself is truly a gift. The Gu Feng Tai Chi Club is unique in it’s approach. The many skilled teachers care about your progress and will offer help with a sincere joy in teaching. Here you will find teachers caring about the art of the movement for health and gentle application… I am so grateful, this school will keep me in Boulder…”
“My reasons for practicing tai chi are at once, straightforward and profound. It brings joy to my heart, steady concentration to my mind, and enhanced health to my body. It’s an art form, an aesthetic, as well as a discipline — all of this inspires me and deepens my commitment. The values underlying TaiChi resonate with what is most essential and fundamental to my being and life’s purpose. It’s a gift to be able to learn and practice TaiChi well-beyond the years for most other forms of physical activity — while improving my health and longevity.”
—Sally Sporer (2016)
“When you practice tai chi long enough and regularly enough to really start feeling comfortable with it, something beautiful spills over into the rest of your life.
Your way of being in the world changes — softens — centers.
You become more spontaneous and grounded.
You can yield or come forth more appropriately in conflict situations.
You are more able to let go of tense energies.
You feel a very different body energy as you go about your day: a lightness, floating; sometimes an energy running vertically up your body; ometimes energy flowing in your arms and hands; sometimes you notice how solid, grounded and centered you feel; and of course you are stronger and more immune to clumsiness and injury.
Your breathing changes, deepens.
Unnecessary tensions and extraneous muscle use drop out of your movements during your day, so your movements are more efficient—you have more differential relaxation—you spontaneously use only the muscles and energy necessary to carry out your movements (this is grace).
Because of these exercises of the body, your spirit becomes more humble, simple, focused.”
—Lorraine Kirk (2016)
“While my answer to this question, provided in 2008, set the stage for my practice direction, my experience of Tai Chi has transformed and deepened in ways I was not in a position to anticipate at that time. At the risk of sounding contrived, I would say that my current sense of my practice is that Tai Chi is practicing me, or practicing itself through me. I don’t have to force myself to practice. On the contrary, my body wants to practice and my mind wants to watch the process, to feel the sensations, and to rest in amazement at an unfolding mystery. Tai Chi seems to be coming from a deep spiritual source, outwardly reflected and guided by the tai chi principles and the wonderful teaching and guidance provided by Laura and her assistants, and from an inner insistence that its dynamic emergence be permitted.”
—Bill Clark (2016)
“I first practiced Tai Chi in college, and whenever I left class, I felt like I was floating while walking; as though suspended from a string through the crown of my head–supported–with my feet and legs bouncing along the pavement like a happy puppet.
20 years later, in my return to Tai Chi through the Gu Feng Tai Chi Club, I have learned the grounding aspect as well. The lofty support of the heavens, with the rooting support of the earth.
I am most pleased with my body’s ability to self correct to centered, when I am not in class! If I am hiking and become aware that my neck or back are tensing, I in my mind I return to movements in class, and in my body the muscle memory quickly responds with an improved posture of softness; opening my mind to focus on the natural/spiritual environment.”
—Carrie Bitz (2016)
“I began practicing tai chi as a way to improve my flexibility and overall health. After practicing it for several months I discovered I appreciate the meditative aspect more. I always feel rested, grounded and calm after practicing.”
—Curt Council (2016)
“A big reason I joined the club was optimal health—strength, balance, flexibility. While those effects have been real and worthwhile, it’s the mental and spiritual quality of Tai Chi that I’m most drawn to and curious about. To my mind, the process of mental and spiritual learning more or less mirrors the way students of Tai Chi make progress in the forms. It’s a cyclical process of practice, incremental gain, deeper saturation, incremental gain, absorption, incremental gain … and so on. It seems to me the outward practice and internal principles underlying Tai Chi are glimpsed and grasped in many, many thin layers over time. Those physical, mental and spiritual aspects can’t be separated from one another. It’s the interconnectedness of it all that makes Tai Chi so powerful and fascinating to me.”
—Jackie Tall (2016)
“To me, Tai Chi is a sort of moving meditation. My normal state of being is thinking, and much of that thinking has to do with problem-solving—which is why I became an engineer. Tai Chi practice helps me turn down the volume on the conscious thoughts that speed through my mind most waking hours. It brings on a calmer, more balanced and focused state of being than I’m used to in everyday life. For a normally intense person, that’s a welcome break. That doesn’t mean the practice comes easily to me; it doesn’t. What it means is the long process of improving is worthwhile and rewarding. It’s a totally different sort of investment (in myself) than anything else I do.”
—Bill Richard (2016)
“In the past 10 months of practicing Tai Chi, I have gained a new awareness of where my body is in space. I have become more capable of feeling the connection of my entire body, and I am continually making progress in feeling more grounded. I have a tendency to hold a lot of tension, and my Tai Chi practice has helped to make me more aware of those habits and to begin to release that tension.”
—Lisa White (2016)
“When I am doing TaiChi, I feel calm and centered in a place I’ve never experienced before, like I am rooted in the center of the universe. When my mind and body are inwardly focused in TaiChi, I feel that I’m moving in harmony with the earth, almost as if turning the earth as we all move through space. I feel like I’m moving in unison with people all over the world, in a meditative state in which nothing else enters. Before TaiChi, I had not found such a place within. Practicing TaiChi also makes me feel closer to my son in Taiwan, whom I deeply miss. Thank you Laura, my instructors, and the GFTCC community for showing me the way to both physical and emotional healing and health!”
—Caroline Hogue (2016)
“Practicing Tai Chi is a unique part of my life that benefits me in multiple ways: focusing my mind while strengthening my body, being active while also relaxing, and striving to improve while letting go of perfectionism.”
—Christine Perkins (2016)
“I practice Tai Chi because it gives me patience of the mind, humility of the heart, and harmony of the spirt. Tai Chi is a many faceted martial art with endless opportunities to learn more about the art and ones self. The benefits a gain at the club are used throughout my day. Simply put Tai Chi is fun, feels good, and is one of the many things that keeps me happy.”
—Lance Reck (2016)
“I practice Tai Chi to improve my health. I believe the practice has many benefits. Tai Chi increases my energy, reduces stress, and harmonizes my spirit. Tai Chi practice makes me a better person!”
—George Russell (2012)
“I had been looking for some time for a group spiritual practice to help me celebrate myself in context of other similarly-minded people. For many years I no longer felt that I could participate in the religion of my birth, but found I needed some way to express spirituality in a group setting. So far our group has provided a healthy mix of intellectual, physical, spiritual, and community for me. I thank all of the teachers and volunteers for their time to make this group available for people’s diverse needs.”
“There are a number of objectives that brought me to the study Tai Chi. As I study:
I want to engage in a physical discipline that is sufficiently demanding so that while I am practicing I have to stop my inner dialogue about the mundane details of life.
I want to engage in a practice in which physical and mental disciplines are intertwined rather than being relegated to separate parts of life.
I want to practice a physical art with which I can grow old. At 80 I probably won’t be playing football. However, if I remain in reasonably good health, I hope to continue to practice Tai Chi at that age and beyond.
I want to learn to “hear” (sense) the energy of others, and to be more attuned to way in which my internal energy systems work.
I want to explore the concept that soft does not mean weak. I hope that if I can learn how to remain nimble and unperturbed when physically challenged, I will also be better equipped to remain calm and centered when dealing with the many other kinds of challenges that life inevitably presents.
I want to emulate the grace in motion, calmness of spirit and adaptability that I associate with Tai Chi practitioners.
I want to participate in a community that is interested in exploring these kinds of issues and objectives.”
—Jerry Gordon (2010)
“My original intent to start practicing Tai Chi was for its health benefit. I believe, the breathing and body movement during practice, is good for the joint, muscle and internal organs of the whole body. In the past year, I had the chances to see how the instructors and masters could move so smoothly and beautifully, yet they could strike so explosively at other instance. They had also showed me how they could feel the force of their opponents and redirect it away from their body. My desire to learn Tai Chi has increased more and more from these experiences. On top of that, all of the Tai Chi teachers are so peaceful and humble from the way they interact with people. I want to have that quality too. Tai Chi is like a piece of art that the more I practice it, the more I appreciate and enjoy it.”
—Ray Tsui (2010)
“The practice of tai chi enables me to experience tranquility and connect my inner self to the universe. It reduces my stress and anxiety. Over the years, it has increased my flexibility, my muscle strength and improved my health condition. The practice of its philosophy has also increased my ability to handles challenges and conflicts in my daily life.”
—Rebecca Tsui (2010)
“I practice Tai Chi because I love it. I feel a connection to every aspect of the art, and enjoy doing all of it. The physical part makes me feel great. The philosophy and theory of the art makes me think. Meditation connects it all together and puts me in touch on a spiritual level with the world around me. Also, I started out in hard style martial arts, and the martial application of Tai Chi can be effective and powerfull. Being able to practice Tai Chi every day helps to clear and center my body and mind, and I know it will be a life long practice for me.”
—Tony Distasi (2008)
“It helps my mind and body.”
—Li Fang (2008)
“I practice Tai Chi to achieve balance in many areas. It helps my mind be with my body because in practice if my mind is somewhere else I know it and things don’t work right. Physically, I wish to not lose mobility as I age and Tai Chi helps me move properly (at least better; properly is still some time in the future). Finally the practice makes me feel better in general and more calm.”
—Blaise Stephanus (2008)
“I practice Tai Chi because it is a form of meditation as well as a way to increase my balance, strength and coordination. Laura’s talks have helped me to appreciate the beauty and wisdom of this powerful art form.”
—Miho Shida (2008)
“I am 71 years old and have been a student of Traditional Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan for over 20 years. I began my studies in NYC with a senior teacher of the Cheng Man-Ching lineage and then through Grand Master Gin Soon Chu in Boston. When I moved to Colorado in 1989 I continued my studies with the Dong family lineage through Sifu Bing Lee in Denver & Glenwood Springs and Alex Dong in Hawaii. After I moved to Boulder in 2004 I took some years off from the practice of Tai Chi when I began studying Gao Style Baguazhang. I discovered the Gu Feng Tai Chi Club in June of 2007 and having first visited and observed a class, I was very impressed with the quality of the teaching, as well as the spirit which informs it. It has been a real pleasure to be part of this school and to continue my studies with Laura and the senior instructors of this wonderful art which has been such a source of joy, health and vitality for me for so many years.”
—Gunther Weil (2008)
“I go to tai chi on Sunday morning because it makes me feel good for a long time.”
—Frances Dahlberg (2006)
“It makes a difference. Life is easer when I practice.”
—David Mee (2006)
“Practicing tai chi helps to clear the cobwebs from my mind. Not worrying about what happened yesterday or might happen tomorrow…just watching what is happening with my body right now. Tai Chi helps me center and focus.”
—Mark Flower (2006)
“I like to stay physically fit. I tried Yoga, fitness tapes, and Pilates, but I found the routines added too much stress to my back and neck and then I would get bored. Four years ago I started TaiChi with Laura and the Gu Feng Tai Chi Club. I was amazed at the gentleness, yet invigorating exercise, for both mind and body, that Tai Chi offers. I have learned so much about motion and healing from Laura. I can truly say that my balance, strength, and flexibility have never been better. The changes and benefits can be felt in other sports like skiing, hiking and biking for me. All the members are so helpful and kind. It is a wonderful organization.”
—Katherine Velasco (2006)
“Coming to the club every Sunday makes me feel I am part of this loving family. I enjoy learning the 24 form, and it makes me feel good after each practice. I also enjoy learning the eight section brocade, which is a simple exercise that I could practice any place.”
—Chiiling Wang (2006)
“Because it make me feel good.”
—Dora Wang (2006)
“I studied Tai Chi previously for 4 years, stopping in 1994. In January 2001 I joined the Gu Feng Tai Chi Club and have been a member since. I find Tai Chi to be a wonderful exercise, both mentally and physically. It relaxes you, yet invigorates you at the same time. Your body benefits as you learn, incorporating Tai Chi in the way you move. Your mind benefits as you learn the history, culture and philosophy.”
—Jodie Allen (2005)
“Tai Chi is one of the best resources I have in my life for learning to quiet my ego. If my ego is still my mind and body can work together without interference from ego’s constant chatter. I can experience a feeling of oneness through the movements. In this sense, Tai Chi is an important part of my path toward self-realization. For example, when I practice Tai Chi, I may be thinking about what my instructors at Gu Feng might think about how great, or how lousy, that last movement was, and — boom! — suddenly I’m just moving body parts around. Any sense of unity evaporates. So, I return to my center. The smooth flow and calmness of Tai Chi resumes. In this way, Tai Chi has been a wonderful life teacher to me. Having a physical disability (very low lung function), Tai Chi is the primary way I stay fit, while gaining life lessons. If I think too much about how I’m doing while practicing Tai Chi, I get out of breath. If I’m centered, my breath is natural and I can practice for a long time. Through the regular practice of what I have learned at Gu Feng (stretching, Chi Gong, standing meditation, Silk Reeling, Tai Chi) I can keep in shape while becoming more centered in my daily life.I am grateful for the opportunity over the last four years to be learning Tai Chi with Laura and all the great instructors at Gu Feng.”
—Danny Chalfen (2005)
“I have come to realize that I practice Tai-Chi not only to improve my well-being, but also to learn more about myself and understand the role I play in this world of ours. Needless to say, it is a challenge, for I am always faced with the unexplainable. Tai-Chi has added another dimension to Life and I know that after everything is said and done, it will still be with me.”
—Randy Nishiyama (2005)
“I love Tai Chi. It is good for my mind, my health, my posture, it helps my body relax… many things strengthen my willingness to practice regularly but, of course, one of the main reasons I practice Tai Chi is that it brings me a lot of happiness!”
—Graziela Cooper (2005)