What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is an ancient art which blends martial arts, healthcare, relaxation, meditation, physical exercise and spirituality into a series of graceful movements one repeats alone or together with other practitioners. The practice of Tai Chi can be done by anyone regardless of age, cultural background, religious/philosophical preference or fitness level to

harmonize body, mind and the human spirit.

Its many benefits for wellbeing continue to be proven by many scientists and by virtually every practitioner. And perhaps one of the most important reasons for practicing is that it is simply a lot of fun to do as well!

 

Tai Chi for the Body

The main points of Tai Chi, from the point of view of both martial arts and health, revolve around the relaxation of the physical body. Yet perhaps the most essential point of all the practice is the breath. In Tai Chi we learn how to breathe deeply, consciously and fully which also has a relaxing effect on the body. If the physical body is stiff or full of tension we cannot see all the beauty life has to offer. In fact, the link between the body and the mind is so clear that stress in the mind automatically gets stored as stress in the body. Few people can say they spend their life with a very relaxed state of the body even though all that pressure and tension is a lot of wasted energy! The great benefit of Tai Chi is that

it gives the opportunity to reverse the building up of stress and be conscious about how you move and the way you inhabit your body.

For this reason stretching exercises are also a vital part of the Tai Chi practice. The benefits of Tai Chi for the human body are also very well researched by modern day science. Another great benefit of practicing Tai Chi is the

improvement of the coordination and physical strength of the body.

Through learning how to move very consciously you can gain a much better control over your body. At the same time Tai Chi also has a martial aspect, since it is in itself a complete system of martial arts (which is focused rather on softness and non-aggression instead of hard and aggressive movements). For people who wish to work more on physical-strength, more advanced coordination or practical self-defense Tai Chi also has a lot to offer.

Tai Chi also has an ‘energetic’/Qi aspect which shall be further discussed in the Qigong section. Many of the same benefits that Qigong has also apply to Tai Chi since they are connected like two leaves on the same branch.

 

Tai Chi for the Mind

Tai Chi is also called ‘meditation (or medication) in motion’. It can offer some of the same benefits as regular sitting meditation, while not having the challenge of sitting completely still for extended amounts of time. People who practice Tai Chi often discover that while you are practicing, there is no time to stress, overthink or worry because you are in your body, working on relaxation, coordination, the movements and most of all: on the breath. Even for people with more serious mental issues this is proven to be very effective. In the fast-paced, performance based, hyper stimulating modern world the practice of Tai Chi points us to a different reality: where calmness, relaxation, flow and softness are more important.

The practice of Tai Chi can be used to ‘detox’ from the pressures of modern life while at the same time developing more concentration and focus.

Any form of meditation, including Tai Chi, can help a lot to decrease the amount and power of the constant, compulsive and purposeless thoughts that are often flying around in our minds. This is a very valuable thing for once the mind is released from constant thoughts there is much more room for something useful to come in! In short, Tai Chi has a de-stressing effect and improves focus, concentration, release of tension and better mind-body communication.

 

Tai Chi for the Spirit

Besides being a martial, physical and relaxing practice, Tai Chi also has a spiritual element associated with it. Once the body and mind are relaxed and calm, naturally we will understand ourselves and life better. If the physical body is very tense or the mind is always full of thoughts, expectations or in survival mode we cannot see our life and the world as they really are. In fact we only see our own thoughts! In this way

Tai Chi can help to open the mind and see what is really important and true in life.

This is a process that does not happen in one day but requires a certain attitude towards how to live your life. Tai Chi can also be a constant friend as a spiritual practice. It is actually created according to the principles of the ancient Chinese spiritual tradition of Daoism and great wisdom is contained in both its philosophy and its practice.

 

Practicing Tai Chi in Harmónia Tai Chi Retreat

There are a few different kinds of Tai Chi which all have their own specific qualities and purposes. Some examples of these purposes are: cultivation of inner energy (Qi), relaxation, development of power, healthcare, meditation or self-defense. In the Harmónia Tai Chi Retreat,

the main focus of the Tai Chi lessons is on relaxation

but through information and (optional) training options we also wish to let our visitors taste the other aspects that the art of Tai Chi has to offer.

In consultation with his master ‘Guo Xinmin’, Friso Halbertsma developed a form specifically for relaxation purposes which he has tested intensively for its quality and effectiveness. Our visitors will practice this form upon their visit to the retreat. Visitors who would like to stay longer or come back again can also choose from a

wide selection of other Tai Chi forms

which can all be found with pictures and a short video on this website. In this way, the Harmónia Tai Chi Retreat hopes to give its visitors the best Tai Chi experience while they are there while at the same time providing a lot more to learn for anyone who wishes to come back and learn more!