I am your archetypal ‘rubbish at all sports’ kind of person. I hated PE at school (yes, I was the one who always got picked last!), and have never enjoyed going to the gym or going to fitness classes. But I reached the point where I thought I ought to make some kind of effort at getting fit, and Tai Chi seemed to be a gentle way in. I think it appealed to my slightly lazier side, I thought it looked easy, gentle and effortless, and I reckoned that with my lack of coordination I wouldn’t last very long anyway!
I was so wrong.
Although it looks gentle, Tai Chi is still a martial art, and not only does it require physical exertion but mental focus too. As a result of going to classes for so many years now that I don’t even remember how long it’s been, I’ve realised that Tai Chi has slowly started to infiltrate my daily life. My posture has improved hugely. It seems that my coordination isn’t as bad as I thought. And the breathing exercises which help focus the mind have been invaluable - on my wedding day, in order to stay calm, I encouraged my chief bridesmaid to join me in some ‘Tai Chi breathing’, despite the fact we were both in our dresses, fully made up, carrying flowers and about to go down to the ceremony! I dread to think how it looked but it definitely helped me!
One of the key points for me about Tai Chi has been that you are never perfect, and that’s not a bad thing. You can learn for years, and still spend time refining your posture here and there, working on it all the time. It’s given me a huge sense of achievement to be able to say that I can do the first 11 moves, plus a chunk of the sword form (on a good day!). But it’s a work in progress, and an enjoyable one which allows me to switch off from the daily grind whilst also keeping fit. If only they’d taught this at school!!
By Natalie Weiner