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Tai chi and Chi kung exercises

Take a moment to feel the peace and focus of Tai chi and Chi kung by practicing these simple,

yet effective, exercises.

Tai Chi Walking

Standing Like a Tree

Tai Chi walking

Adapted from

The start posture

Start by standing with your heels together and your toes turned slightly outwards. Breathe from your lower abdomen, expending your abdomen on the breath in and contracting on the breath out. Your weight is equally distributed and your feet should ‘feel’ the ground. Breathing slowly and naturally, place your hands lightly on your hips, palms inwards. Let your knees sink downwards.

From the start posture, move your left leg forward and slightly outward, as if you were skating on ice, but in slow motion. Place your left heel on the ground, without shifting your balance, leaving your weight on the right leg. Your gaze remains straight ahead of you and slightly downward.

Put your left foot down fully and transfer your weight onto the left leg, keeping the left knee slightly bent (the knee no further forward than the toes), while the right leg straightens.

Slowly begin to raise your right foot and bend the knee as you bring the right leg toward the left leg, keeping the heel up.

Continue moving your right leg forward and slightly to the right, placing the right heel on the ground.

To continue…

Transfer your weight to your right leg, keeping the right knee slightly bent, and bring your left foot, heel up, to beside your right foot.

Continue moving your left leg forward and slightly to the left, placing the left heel on the ground.

Carry on walking

Be aware that you are moving at an even, smooth pace, and your breathing is slow and soft.

Stand in a comfortable shoulder width or slightly wider posture, feet fully connected to the ground, knees slightly bent. Breathe slowly and deeply, using abdominal breathing throughout the exercise.

Raise your arms up in front of your chest as if you are hugging a big ball held between your arms and chest, or hugging a large tree.

Relax your fingers with your fingertips pointing toward the opposite hand. Your hands should be slightly lower than your shoulders and your thumbs should be relaxed.

Place your wrists about your shoulders' distance apart, and place your elbows slightly lower than your wrists.

Bend your elbows so that the angle between the upper and lower arms is wider than 90 degrees.

Continue to breathe deeply and slowly, inhaling as your abdomen expands, and exhaling as your abdomen contracts.

Visualize that you are gently holding a large energy or coloured light ball between your arms and chest. You are holding this ball in place with no tension whatsoever.

If your arms become heavy, visualize them floating or bobbing on water as they hold the ball.

Allow the weight of your arms to flow down your back by relaxing your shoulders back and down. Periodically, check your shoulders to make sure that they are relaxed.

Hold this posture for five minutes. Work your way up to five minutes if it is too hard to start there. The ultimate goal is ten to fifteen minutes, once a day.  

Standing like a tree

Adapted from

This ancient meditative qigong exercise simultaneously trains the mind, strengthens the internal organs, and calms the nervous system. It dramatically strengthens the upper and lower body and provides a sense of personal power, which arises from a disciplined meditative practice.

This is the basic method for all foot movements in Tai Chi, and is a great way to get a feel for the right posture and rhythm of the movements when performing Tai chi sequences. You can practice Tai Chi walking for as long as you like. This develops your sense of balance and gives a deep sense of rootedness and security. All moves should be slow and even, with no pauses between the steps. While you are walking, keep your eyes looking forward and slightly downward, not staring, but focused and aware. Your torso stays upright, and your movements are smooth, without any bobbing of the head and shoulders.