Taiji is an ancient Chinese system of exercise for people of all ages that can prevent and cure disease. It promotes health and is also an effective form of self defense. The circular movements of Taiji are non-strenuous, soft and flowing. It is often described as "moving meditation" because it relieves stress and improves concentration. The slow turning motions loosen the joints and spine and relax points of tension in the body. Taiji trains the mind to direct the flow of internal energy or Qi. The movements are preformed with silk-like energy that is continuous, flexible, soft and effortless. Slow, deep and gentle breathing regulates the forms tempo. Taiji can be an effective therapy to strengthen the digestive, circulatory, and skeletal systems.
Taiji is thought to be descended from natural movements of animals observed by Taoist monks. Taiji was developed by incorporating the vast knowledge of Taoist meditative practices into moving postures, creating what is known as a soft or internal form of exercise. Conforming to Taoist philosophy, the form originates from Wu Ji, a state of stillness. Motion arises forming yin and yang ---two complimentary opposites that combine to form the whole. Each movement within the form contains yin and yang: inhalation and exhalation, soft and hard, empty and solid, right and left.
In Taiji, the body moves as a complete unit. The spine must be straight and the head is held as if suspended by a string from above. The shoulders and elbows drop naturally. The chest is slightly concave while the back is slightly convex. The waist is the axis for all movements and must be loose. The mind must be totally concentrated and absorbed in the form. The subconscious mind directs the form while the conscious mind becomes pure and empty. Mind, body and spirit are united as one and a state of selflessness exists.