Tai Chi is a practice of moving meditation originating in ancient Chinese martial arts tradition. There are 5 different branches or styles of Tai Chi including Chen, Yang, Wu, Hao, and Sun. At Yoga House, instructor Jan Graves teaches the Sun style of Tai Chi which is known for its benefits for arthritis and joint health.
Sun Tai Chi
The Sun style of Tai Chi is one of the youngest forms of Tai Chi and is named after Sun Lu-tang, an expert martial artist who developed the form in the 1860s. Sun Tai Chi is characterized by agile steps and fluid movements. Whenever one foot moves forward or to the side, the other foot slowly and smoothly follows in coordination hand and arm movements. Sun Style has high stances, avoiding knee strain and supporting joint health, making the practice ideal for those with arthritis and safe for seniors.
The flow of energy and smooth, fluid movements create relaxation, inner balance and enjoyment and many who explore this style of Tai Chi progress quickly as they notice the benefits right away.
3 Principles of Sun Tai Chi
There are 3 main principles of Sun Tai Chi: Jing, Dantien and Song. These principles set the foundation for the mindful movements of Tai Chi and are held in awareness throughout the practice.
Firstly, to jing the mind which means to focus your thoughts on the present moment, letting go of external distractions and developing an awareness of the practice. Jing is a form of meditation and means “mental quietness or serenity.” Jing improves relaxation, focus and balance.
Dantien is the energy located two inches below the belly button, near where the diaphragm sits at the base of the rib cage. Engaging the dantien throughout the practice supports deep, consistent breathing, core recruitment and upright posture. As you turn to the left and right, the dantien will lead the movement from the waist.
The final principle is to song the joints. Song is a form of controlled relaxation in which you gently loosen and soften the joints creating slow, fluid movements. Song releases tension from the body allowing energy to flow freely through the joints, building strength and increasing flexibility.
Each Tai Chi practice begins and closes with a bow to yourself paired with a hand gesture symbolizing strength, friendship and humility.
Yoga House offers a Silver Sneakers friendly Tai Chi class on Fridays from 2:30-3:30 with Jan Graves. Jan first heard about the benefits of Tai Chi in 2004 from a colleague who suggested Tai Chi would be beneficial to teach to her students for health and exercise. She’s been practicing ever since! Jan also teaches Silver Sneakers Yoga on Tuesdays at 8:30.