Tai Chi is a unique form of exercise that can be practised as gentle movement to reap the rewards of its numerous
health benefits, or as a serious and challenging mental and physical discipline. If practised to its fullest extent,
and according to its principles, it ultimately integrates soul, mind and body and, in its highest form, it is a
transformative spiritual journey. So to gain the complete benefit from its practise requires discipline and
commitment, both to the mastery of the physical form, as well as to the comprehension of the principles that underlie it.
If you are a student who seeks in this direction, you will be constantly confronted with aspects of your
personality that stand in the way of your progress, and these will be found reflected in your physical body.
For example, a tense mind that cannot relax will reflect as tension somewhere in the body. And you will discover
that your inward states can usually be found reflected in other areas of your life as well. Be prepared for
temporary frustrations, elations, disillusionment and empowerment. And then be prepared to give them all up
as you progress to the next level of awareness. It is this unfoldment from inner to outer that makes Tai Chi
an 'internal art'.
On a purely physical level, you should expect to experience certain levels of discomfort – especially in your
leg muscles. This will come and go, but will eventually disappear altogether after a sustained period of
practice. Other areas of the body, such as the knees, may also take some strain, and there is specific stretching and
massage that can be done to alleviate this. While a certain amount of temporary discomfort is inevitable as the body adapts
(as is true in all physical disciplines), if the pain is due to injury or excessive strain, please inform Darius.
It is up to you to take care of your body.
As Tai Chi is an art that requires a certain amount of effort and dedication, you are expected to practise
in your spare time, even if only for 15 minutes every two days to begin with. It is especially important to spend
some time becoming familiar with what was learnt during each class. Students with insufficient interest or
self-discipline will quickly lag behind and become frustrated, and over time the teacher will also subsequently
lose interest! It is your responsibility to sufficiently prioritise Tai Chi in your life in order
to maintain steady progress, and really engage in the art that you have chosen to learn, so that you can gain
the most benefit.
One of the challenges in beginning Tai Chi is that it is most likely quite different from anything else
you have ever encountered. Its nature, and benchmark for progress, is subtler and more difficult to grasp than
many other disciplines. Having gone to a few Yoga classes, for example, we may come away with a sense of
achievement that we have been able to do this or that stretch or asana quite well, but this is mostly not
so in Tai Chi. Some patience is needed over a period of months to really be able to make progress, and
enjoy what we have achieved. The ease of motion of the advanced practitioner belies an enormous previous
effort that is not obvious to the layman.