Based on the ancient Chinese principles of activation and circulation of energy (chi), T’ai Chi Chih is an easily adaptive and enjoyable program that can be done by anyone, regardless of age or physical ability. This introductory level, easy-to-learn set of 20 movements helps dissolve tension, reduce chronic pain, and improve balance.
Join Mt. Cuba beginning Thursday, September 17 from 7:30 to 8:30 am for an eight-session weekly T’ai Chi Chih class with Master Personal Trainer and Accredited T’ai Chi Chih Instructor Jessica Lewis. Register now to save your space.
We sat down with Lewis to find out more about what those thinking about practicing T’ai Chi Chih need to know.
Mt. Cuba Center: To start, we’d like to know more about you. How did you get into T’ai Chi Chih and what made you want to teach others?
Jessica Lewis: I actually took my first T’ai Chi Chih class BY MISTAKE (but there are no mistakes, right?) I’d practiced Tang Soo Do (karate) for many years but after a hip injury put an end to all that about a month before I was scheduled to test for my Second Degree Black Belt I missed karate SO MUCH I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. Then one day I decided to try “T’ai Chi” (which was offered – also coincidentally – at the facility where I’d been working as the Senior Personal Trainer for over a decade) not even noticing that third little word “Chih” on the end. Long story short, I fell in love with this incredibly gentle, yet powerful moving meditation almost the moment we started to move that day! Truthfully, at first I wanted to become Accredited mostly because it would be a distinction setting me apart from my peers in the health & fitness world, but it’s also true that T’ai Chi Chih has cranked my physical and mental health up to all-time highs (and in ways working out and eating right never could have.) To learn more about my journey towards and with T’ai Chi Chih (and various other TCC-ish things) you might enjoy this blog Sometimes the very best something comes out of doing ALMOST nothing.
Mt. Cuba Center: We’re wondering what the most common question you get from those new to T’ai Chi Chih is? And what’s your response?
Jessica Lewis: I think the most common question I get about T’ai Chi Chih is “is it easy?” (which usually also means “can anyone – especially me – do it?”). The answer is undeniably YES! I’ve actually never encountered someone who can’t do T’ai Chi Chih because with very little modification it can even be done from a chair. I’ve even worked with a few students who were paralyzed from mid-thoracic down and were happily able to simply visualize all the movements in their heads. So, to my way of thinking how can anything that user-friendly and customizable not be easy? It’s also true that there really is no such thing as bad T’ai Chi Chih…no “T’ai Chi Chih police” will come and take you away if you have to modify the movements to accommodate some difference in the way you move, or if you do the 20 movements out of order, or even if you can’t remember all 20 movements (and just do the ones you know!). It’s also one of the easiest ways to meditate (in fact it’s been dubbed a moving MINDFULNESS practice by several well-respected medical organizations) so that makes T’ai Chi Chih pretty much the biggest possible bang for the buck. Here’s another blog that touches upon all this (plus showcases the power of doing T’ai Chi Chih at the beautiful Mt Cuba: What if things are different than you thought?
Mt. Cuba Center: What are some health benefits of T’ai Chi Chih?
Jessica Lewis: Well for starters, T’ai Chi Chih’s soft slow movements have an almost immediate effect on pretty much every practitioner’s blood pressure, heart rate, and “monkey mind.” Everyone’s experience is different, but most students feel far-reaching effects of the practice so quickly that profound changes in both physical and mental health can even occur after only a few lessons! In addition to being considered an evidence-based mindfulness practice, T’ai Chi Chih has also proven itself as a viable treatment option for a number of serious physiological and psychological conditions. Visit my website for current Medical Studies linking T’ai Chi Chih to positive changes in health and wellness.
Remember, though, that all Tai Chi practices are closely related (much like various dialects of the same language) so it’s no stretch to say that any high-quality medical study about any Tai Chi style/practice can easily be applied to T’ai Chi Chih as well!
Mt. Cuba Center: What piece of advice would you give to anyone who’s thinking about beginning T’ai Chi Chih? Is there anything else people considering signing up for your class should know?
Jessica Lewis: Justin Stone (the T’ai Chi Chih Originator) often called this easy moving meditation “Joy through Movement” so the best advice I can offer someone who’s on the fence about all this is give joy a chance.
Consider the following Hindu parable: one day the philosopher and sage Ramana Maharshi was traveling across India on a train when he observed a man carrying two overstuffed suitcases. “Young man,” Sri Maharshi remarked, “you can carry those bags yourself or you can put them down and let the train carry them for you.” Even with all the research out there linking T’ai Chi Chih to improvements in so many chronic conditions the notion that practicing T’ai Chi Chih will make you healthier and happier or (better yet) keep you from getting sick or stressed-out in the first place may still seem pretty woo woo! No one can possibly refute, however, that T’ai Chi Chih is one of the EASIEST ways to let the train carry your bags. (But if you’re still on the fence just click here to read all kinds of kind words and personal experiences from clients and colleagues!)
T’ai Chi Chih begins Thursday, September 17 from 7:30 to 8:30 am. Register here to find out what it’s all about.