Tai Chi, also known as Tai Chi Chuan, is a form of martial arts that evolved out of the ancient practice of QiGong. It is based on the Taoist philosophy of Yin and Yang, and focuses on finding a balance between the opposing, but complementary forces in our lives. As a practice it reflects the Taoist teachings that provide a reflective, mystical, and serene view of the world and emphasizes harmony between humanity and nature.

Some sources accredit its creation to a Taoist monk, Zhang Sanfeng, during the Song Dynasty in the 12th century. While created as a martial art, and still practiced as such through some of the modern forms, the purpose of Tai Chi is to harmonize the body’s vital energy—to bring balance of body, mind, and spirit through posture, breathing, movement, and mindfulness.

The art of Tai Chi is based on the same cosmic principles of nature that governs other forms of energy work such as acupuncture and yoga. It is about regulating the flow of the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water within our bodies. This energy flows along channels called meridians, and interacts with the cosmic forces that surround us at all times. Tai Chi is about aligning the self with these cosmic forces, and through this balance creating peace of mind, physical healing, and general wellbeing.

There are five main styles of Tai Chi, which originate from the families who practiced them in the 16th through 18th centuries. They are the Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun, and Hao styles. Chen and Yang are the most commonly practiced styles worldwide, with Chen being the oldest style and having inspired the creation of the other four, and Yang being the slow, graceful style that most people associate with the term “Tai Chi”.

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