Birthing Life T'ai-Chi



Learning T’ai-Chi

How To Begin






Classes held at
Twin Cities Friends Meeting
1725 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105
and via Zoom

Learning T’ai-Chi

Whether a beginning or advanced class, our approach to teaching T’ai-Chi guides students to listen to their inner experience of body alignment and movement. While students learn a sequence of movements, we don’t expect students to memorize and perform the sequence by rote, but rather learn how to follow particular feelings of alignment and inner flow within each movement.

Beginning T’ai-Chi classes introduce fundamental movements that lower the body’s center of gravity and free the arms and legs to flow like ribbons. We also practice simple qigong exercises that increase chi flow and the awareness of chi. During the first few classes students learn these key T’ai-Chi principles:

  • Vertical alignment of the body’s central axis or “plumb line” which suspends from the crown of the head and drops down through the back and tailbone.
  • Slow and deep diaphragmatic breathing and continually relaxing muscles and connective tissues.
  • Initiating movement from the waist and hips and allowing internal movement to flow out from the core (lower abdomen and lower back) through the arms and legs.
  • Sustaining attention inside the body and using the least amount of effort necessary.

Students then learn the T’ai-Chi form, a series of martial movements based on Yang-style T’ai-Chi in 37 Postures by Master Cheng Man-ch’ing. Many movements are expressive of an animal, such as “snake creeps down” or “repulsing the monkey.” Since the power of a strike, block, or kick is supported by chi, their effectiveness is not dependent on physical strength.

While the form is an individual practice, in class we move through the sequence together which creates a shared field of motion and energy. Advanced classes also incorporate push-hands—slow-moving, dance-like sparring with a partner. Students deepen and personalize their experience of T’ai-Chi in their own practice at home or wherever open space is available in a quiet area. Practice may vary in length, but even a few minutes is often enough to relax and feel centered.

T’ai-Chi complements other meditative or movement practices, including yoga, Pilates, sitting meditation, weightlifting, running, and other martial arts. People with mobility limitations or injuries find that practicing T’ai-Chi provides a gentle but invigorating exercise. The movements also enhance one’s awareness of everyday activities, such as walking, bending, climbing stairs, and opening doors.