I am always on the search for new things to try especially when they come with a lot of research to highlight the benefits. And this is what lead me to explore the world of Tai Chi and Qigong last year.
Tai Chi is recommended by the NHS along with Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation as a form of stress reduction but the benefits seem to go way beyond the mind because Tai Chi is about mindful movement so the positive impact on the body is equal to that of the mind. For me, it feels like gentle exercise and mindfulness wrapped into one.
Most classes are a combination of Qigong and Tai Chi because the movements in Qigong have evolved specifically for health benefits and therefore it suits more clients than pure Tai Chi - well this is my understanding so far!
I am still very new to Tai Chi, but I have found it very calming and engaging. It allows you to focus the mind on the breath just like you might with meditation but incorporates gentle movement patterns into this, which for me helps me stay focused in the moment.
One of the best things I find about Tai Chi is once you learn a couple of movements you can do it anywhere. All you need is a couple of minutes to yourself. Whereas with yoga, it is a much more involved activity physically. It usually requires a mat because there is a lot of floor work so you are unlikely to want to do it in your classroom between lessons! But you could spend a minute or two doing one tai chi exercise quite easily. I’m sure there are exceptions, but everything I have done so far as been standing movement and therefore it is easier to do in different places.
I was lucky enough to find a very good class locally but with time constraints, I can not always make it. So I do a lot on my own with free videos online. I have found one organisation who has some fantastic free content and they are my go-to resource - Tai Chi Nation.
If you just want to try a 3 minute session to promote relaxation and inner calm then watch and follow along with this:
If you want more, this is my favourite 20 minute session. Not too long, but long enough to really feel the benefits:
Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.