I doubt there is a “one size fits all” approach to starting a tai chi practice, so I’ve decided to share my experience and see if that may be helpful for you. For me, starting practising tai chi, like any other discipline, and any other regular activity, required starting a habit, so here is what I did and my tips based on what I did:
1) Find a suitable time
Do you have a preferred time for exercising? Is there a ‘dead’ time in your daily routine you could fill with some moves? Can you wake up earlier and feel good for the day? Would you rather practise after work to gather energy for the evening?
I changed my preferred time a few times. First, I thought I would rather do it after my working day was over. But at that time I was so hungry I would prioritise my food over my tai chi. Then, because I work from home, I decided I’d do it at mid-morning before lunch, but this never really happened. Finally, I gave my health priority and I decided to practise some moves at first time in the morning. It worked.
Tip: Play around with times until you find the best for you.
2) Commit to an amount of time per day
How much time will you have for your tai chi practice?
At the time that I was planning to start a practice, I attended a meditation workshop where the facilitator recommended five minutes of meditation every day. Who doesn’t have 5 minutes? He said. I thought 5 minutes was maybe a bit too little but I started practising for 15 minutes.
Tip: Don’t try too hard. Remember all you are trying to do is creating a habit, so commit to 5-15 minutes of practice. It may be enough at this stage.
3) Commit to a specific time framework
Are you planning to practise only while you are doing a course? Do you intend to start a regular practice? Would you like to try a couple of months and see what happens?
I wanted to create a regular practice, but I thought it would be impossible for me with the thought of waking up early every day forever to practice tai chi. Forever is a bit too much. So at the beginning I committed to three months.
Tip: Select a convenient time framework and stick to it.
4) Do not practice every day
This may sound crazy, but you will need a break from time to time. If you become too perfectionistic, you may burn out sooner than you expect.
I told myself I would practice most days, and I usually take one day off, sometimes two, in my weekly practice. Staying in bed a bit longer that day is my reward for all the days that I do get up and practice, which are also a pleasure.
Tip: Take a break from time to time. Or find a way to reward yourself for having started a practice.
So the beginnings of my tai chi practice went like this: I committed to practice most days (as opposed to every day) at first time in the morning for 15 minutes during 3 months.
Now it’s your turn. Choose your time commitment and incorporate this new habit into your routine. But I must warn you of the side effects. Once it becomes routine, you may not be able to get rid of this practice. Are you sure you want to start a tai chi practice? I hope you do.
Have a look at the next post: Starting a tai chi practice — What to practise