#1 – Learning from Someone Unqualified
Unfortunately, there are no regulations on this program, so anyone out there could claim to be a Tai Chi master, and yet be doing it all wrong. It’s best to find someone with a rich history in the program, not a fly by night professional who is only good at marketing him or herself.
There are many ways you can learn Tai Chi. You can hire someone to teach you in private, one-on-one lessons. You can attend a Tai Chi class at a fitness studio. You can even watch online videos or read a book with illustrations.
Just make sure you feel confident in the instructor, and in your ability to discern safe movements from risky ones. And don’t be afraid to double check from different sources to ensure you’re doing it all right.
What are some good resources to learn from?
When it comes to books, you might want to check out this resource:
The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind
This is a great read for those who want to practice Tai Chi for any reason. Whether it’s for sports performance or decreasing the stress you have in your life, those and a wide range of other benefits are taught in this illustrated guide to Tai Chi.
DVD videos are also great because then you get to see the action in motion. Some of the most popular DVDs teaching Tai Chi include:
BodyWisdom Media: Tai Chi for Beginners
This DVD is one that beginners especially love. You get to see from all sides, not just a front image. The instructor also helps you learn the small nuances that often contribute a lot to your success or lack of enjoyment with a new process.
There are specialty DVDs too, for specific audiences like those of a certain age or suffering from a particular ailment.
This one is for seniors:
The great thing about this video product is that it teaches you how to modify movements based on your own personal mobility issues. It even includes Tai Chi from a sitting position!
This one is for those suffering from Arthritis:
This is a double DVD lesson that you learn from slowly. It’s jarring, for those suffering from arthritis. Dr. Lam gives methodical, step-by-step instructions to prevent pain, and many find that it’s the perfect way to start their day and gain more movement.
#2 – Forgetting to Stay Hydrated
Tai Chi, as with many fitness programs, can dehydrate you and you have to take extra precautions during your exercise regimen to consume enough water to help you get through the program.
Take a water bottle along with you – preferably one that’s BPA-free, like the Stainless Steel Water Bottle By Riverside Tai Chi product, which has a Tai Chi logo on it, too.
#3 – Not Giving Yourself a Safe Space to Practice
Tai Chi is all about movements, in addition to mental clarity and peace. So you need a good working environment as you go through the motions. Not only do you need plenty of room to move about comfortably, but you also want the space around you to be safe.
If you’re new to Tai Chi, you might not have the best balance, and you don’t want to tip over and fall onto a dangerous object, or anything you worry about ruining. If you’re using an exercise mat, make sure it doesn’t slip.
It’s best to practice Tai Chi in an uncluttered room. Clutter has a negative effect on your mindset, and when you’re using Tai Chi to alleviate stress, it will help if the room you’re in has space to focus.
A good mat to own is the Circle Round, Yin-Yang Meditation Mat – which has a non-slip surface, to help you achieve better balance as you practice.
#4 – Fighting Against Your Limitations
It’s one thing to adhere to a new fitness program, give it your all, and see how much you can do. It’s another to ignore your body’s warning signs and push past the point of safety, so that you end up injuring yourself.
If your body won’t move past a certain point, don’t force it. You could end up with a serious body injury that limits your mobility even more than before if you try too hard. It’s not worth the risk.
If you find you want to work on flexibility even more, try a Stretch Out Strap with Instructional Booklet. This can help you achieve even more flexibility when you do your Tai Chi program.
#5 – Doing Tai Chi When Your Body and Mind Are Feeling Poorly
If Tai Chi is good for stress relief, then it makes sense that you’d want to practice Tai Chi to help you get rid of stress, right? True – except that if you’re in the midst of a particularly chaotic situation, it may be impossible for you to benefit from it.
It’s best to wait until things calm down a tiny bit so that you can tap into the breathing and meditation portion of the practice. Trying to do it when you’ve just cried or yelled at someone isn’t a good time to begin Tai Chi.
Similarly, if your body is reeling from hunger (or is too full), or has just experienced a particularly painful injury, it won’t be the best time to engage in Tai Chi. You need your body relaxed and able to support you.
If you’re looking for a way to calm down and let your mind and body get settled before a session, try some Tai Chi music, which, when paired with breathing, can help you achieve more peace and cut down on the chaos.
#6 – Forcing a Time Limit on Your Tai Chi
It’s great to set a goal that you’ll get a certain amount of exercise every day. And you can certainly set a goal for Tai Chi, too – to some degree. But until you know how your body (and mind) react to Tai Chi, it’s wise to let your body be your guide.
Whenever you’re beginning to tire, or you start to feel sick, you want to end the session – regardless of whether or not it hit your time count. Tai Chi isn’t like other forms of exercise where you pump yourself up to “push through the pain.”
#7 – Ignoring Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs
With all exercise programs, including Tai Chi, you want to conduct a thorough warm-up and cool-down routine before and after your session. Some people mistakenly think that because Tai Chi includes meditation, it won’t need these elements – but it does!
#8 – Strictly Adhere to Professional Movements
Whenever you’re learning Tai Chi, you’re going to find that sometimes, you watch a movement by a professional, and find that you can’t achieve the same movement – either because of the level of flexibility, or other issues.
You want to learn how to safely modify the movements, without endangering your body. So just learn to cut back. For instance, if a teacher holds a pose, and your knee hurts, don’t hold it as long. Or cut back on your flexibility move from the 80% the teacher does to the 40% you’re capable of.
One thing you need to know is that you have to watch for signs that your body needs more support. If your knee hurts, for example, invest in something like the Bracoo Breathable Neoprene Knee Support. But still, make sure you don’t overdo it. Same works for back pain, wrist pain, etc.
#9 – Dressing for a Fashion Statement
Fitness gear, including leggings, shorts, and tops, have become more fashionable throughout the years. Instead of putting on an old t-shirt and comfy pair of sweats or shorts, men and women alike focus on looking good, rather than feeling good.
With Tai Chi, your focus should be on mental clarity and peace – and the only thing you should care about in terms of what you’re wearing is that you have room to move your body, and shoes that support your balance.
You can find a unisex Traditional Tai Chi Uniform online, which provides you with the best flexibility in terms of loose clothing. They’re handcrafted and lightweight, so you won’t overheat, either.
There are also simple Tai Chi Pants for Women. These come in many different colors and sizes. They don’t shrink when you wash them, and they’re very relaxed fitting and comfortable for your fitness needs.
Don’t forget the rubber sole, Tai Chi Shoes. These shoes slip on and off easily, but provide much needed support and stability while you’re actually engaging in Tai Chi exercises.
#10 – Not Learning How to Breathe Properly
When most people think of fitness, they begin focusing on movements and stamina. But with Tai Chi, not only is meditation involved, but breathing – to help connect your mind and body on a more powerful level.
Never just assume you’ll know how to breathe for a proper meditation regimen. You need to learn the right way to inhale and exhale deeply, to alleviate stress and clear your conscience.
You have to learn all elements separately – the physical movements, the meditation, and the breathing. Then, you learn how to put them together so that you’re doing them in sync.
If you have trouble breathing deep, you should know there are gadgets that can even help you with that. For example, surgical patients are often given a 3-Chamber Spirometer, which they use to test and improve lung function.
Some people think they have what it takes to breathe deeply, but when they test their lung strength with something like this fun o, they realize they’re really shallow breathing, and not getting the full benefits of their lungs’ abilities.
Another cool tool is the Expand-a-Lung Breathing Fitness Exerciser. This is often what athletes use to increase their lung capacity, and it can help you achieve better breathing for your Tai Chi regimen.
It literally opens up your airways and helps retrain your respiratory muscles so that they’re stronger and healthier than ever before. You can adjust the level of resistance, so you feel comfortable increasing your breathing abilities little by little.
Don’t let any of these common errors make you steer clear of Tai Chi. On the contrary – now that you’re aware of them, you’ll probably have even better success than those who overlook the pitfalls and end up faltering.
Tai Chi has so many health benefits. It helps you avoid common aging issues, such as loss of mobility, decline in mental acuity, and increased stress. It’s perfect for seniors – but a great activity to teach youngsters as well.
This is a form of exercise that works well with the injured or with those suffering from debilitating long-tern diseases. You just have to know how to best navigate the lessons to account for your specific issues.
The best way to implement a new Tai Chi fitness program for physical and mental well-being is to first get educated about it. Then, start out slowly, seeing how well your body (and mind) react to it.
If you find it too easy, then you can kick it up a notch and move to a more advanced level of Tai Chi. There are lessons for all skill levels – you just have to find what works best for you.
Learn more about Tai Chi through our Tai Chi course.