Tai chi has been described as “meditation in motion.” According to a study, published in the June 2021 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, found that people age 50 and older with central obesity (weight disproportionally packed in their midsection) who practiced tai chi for 12 weeks shrunk their bellies as successfully as those who participated in aerobic exercise and strength training for the same amount of time.
10 Tai chi Moves to Practice
Ready to start practicing Tai Chi for weight loss benefits? Here are 10 Tai Chi moves that will help achieve your weight loss and belly-fat-related goals.
Tai chi walking
- Start in a bow stance with hands clasped in front or behind you.
- Shift weight forwards onto the front foot into the bow stance, then back onto the rear foot. Turn your front foot slightly outward, at an angle that forms a ‘T’ with your rear foot.
- Shift weight forward while turning the torso toward the turned-out foot. Bring your rear foot forward to set up for the next bow stance.
- Shift weight forward and turn the torso to be square with the bow stance by the end of the weight shift. Repeat the sequence on the other side.
- Repeat at least 10 sets of left and right, or use this technique as your 20-30 minute walking session outdoors.
Focus on a smooth shifting of weight without wobbling, especially when shifting forward onto the turned-out foot while turning the torso. This is challenging for most beginners. Also try to keep your center of the mass level, i.e., don’t let your body move up and down as you shift weight.
Painting the fence
- Begin with your feet parallel and just under your hips with your arms by your side.
- Inhale and step your left leg to the side as you raise your arms to shoulder height. Wrists are relaxed. Exhale to step your foot down as you lower your arms. Wrists are now flexed. Relax into your stance.
Wild horse parting mane
- Instead of clasping your hands throughout the movement, imagine holding a tai chi ball and part your arms as you shift forward in a bow stance. As you stand with feet parallel and hip-width apart, place your hands on your hips.
- Lift your left leg to 90 degrees, then extend the leg straight. Hold for 2 seconds before bending the knee then returning the foot to the floor. Repeat the movement on the right side. Alternate the movement for a total of 2 minutes.
- Shift back onto the rear foot, begin to hold the tai chi ball, and continue holding the tai chi ball as you shift forward onto the turned-out front foot. This prepares you for parting your arms again for the next bow stance. Repeat at least ten times.
To perform better: Try to coordinate the weight shift, turning of the torso, and parting of the arms in a flowing motion. Feel the legs pushing the pelvis forward, feel the spine rotating the shoulders, feel the arms being propelled by the shoulders, albeit in slow motion.
- In the preparation for bow stance, let’s say with left foot forward and weight on the right foot, lift your right hand to head height and place your left hand near the right elbow.
- As you shift weight onto the left foot, going into the bow stance, push your right palm forward, as if throwing a pie, and simultaneously brush your left hand, toward the left knee. As you shift weight back to the rear foot, draw your right hand toward your chest as if deflecting an opponent’s punch.
- As you shift weight onto the turned-out left foot, bring your left hand up toward your head and your right hand near the left elbow. Bring the right foot forward in preparation for the same sequence of movements on the other side. Repeat at least 10 times on each side.
Try to coordinate the weight shift, turning of the torso, and the push/brush movement in a flowing manner, again feeling the legs pushing the pelvis forward, the spine rotating the shoulders, and the arm movements being driven by the shoulders.
- Standing with feet parallel and hip-width apart, place your hands on your hips. Lift your left leg to 90 degrees, then extend the leg straight.
- Hold for 2 seconds before bending the knee then returning the foot to the floor. Repeat the movement on the right side. Alternate the movement for a total of 2 minutes.
- Focus on, Leg kicks will increase your core strength to hold your leg at 90 degrees. It helps increase your flexibility and heart rate from the contraction of large leg muscles.
- With feet wider than shoulder-width apart, stand with your toes turned slightly outward.
- Push your hips back to squat down, keeping your chest up and knees out. Hold the squat for 5-10 seconds. Then stand back up to the starting position.
- Perform 10-15 sumo squats, holding each squat for 5-10 seconds.
Learning to perform this exercise will help you get into the lower squat stances, improve hip flexibility and strengthen your legs and core.
- In this movement, left and right arms move continuously in circular movements while the feet step sideways in a crab-like pattern, stepping out with one foot and stepping in with the other foot. The left-arm draws counterclockwise circles while the right arm draws clockwise circles.
- In coordination with side-stepping, the torso turns slightly towards the left and right.
- Do 10 steps to the left and 10 steps to the right.
- Try to draw circles in a continuous manner, with constant speed throughout the movement. As you gain more experience with this move, you should feel the overhand arm pulling, while the underhand arm is pushing/stabbing, engaging the posterior chain on one side of the body while simultaneously engaging the anterior chain on the other side.
- Start in tree stance with your right leg behind you. Turn out the right foot to 45 degrees and raise your right arm to eye level. Shift your weight onto your left foot. Start to draw the right leg up for the kick by bringing the knee to 90 degrees or hip height.
- Extend the right leg to kick out to the outstretched right hand.
- Return your right foot to the starting position to continue practicing right kicks or step it down in front of the left foot to begin practicing left kicks.
- Practice 10-15 on each side.
Trying to learn to perform the powerful kicks in tai chi requires an increase in energy utilization or calorie use.
- Stand still in the horse stance. The mind cycles through all of the relevant body parts: feet like gentle suction cups, knees gently pushing outward, hip joints gently open, lower back kept straight and vertical by tilting pelvis (tailbone pointing forward), shoulders relaxed, scapula separated, hands held in front of the belly, palms gently pressing down, crown point gently pulling upwards, lengthening the entire spine.
- Repeat this mental cycle, making corrections each time, by relaxing muscles that have tensed up and activating muscles as needed to maintain the correct posture. Take long deep, relaxing breaths.
- Hold two minutes at a time, for three repetitions. As you develop the muscle strength, then gradually increase hold time to five minutes. With more practice, then do 10 minutes for two repetitions, and finally, do 30 minutes in one go.
If you are a Beginner you might feel a burning sensation in your quads. Eliminate this burn by relaxing the quads—other muscles (glutes, abs, back muscles) will pick up the slack and maintain the posture. Beginners also tend to allow the lower back to lapse into a curved form. Try to correct this through the mental cycle until the correct posture becomes second nature. Although you do not move in this form, you are activating muscles and burning calories.
- With feet wider than shoulder-width apart, stand with your toes turned slightly outward. Shift your weight onto the left foot. While engaging in this movement, your right leg should straighten out. If you are new to this movement, you will likely feel a big stretch.
- Sit your hips back and squat down as you lower your hips down to the heel of your left foot. Press the left foot into the floor and engage your core while keeping your back straight and chest upright as you return to the standing position.
- You can continue to practice on one side at a time or shift from left to right. Do five sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
Note: Anytime an exercise shifts levels, such as going up and down, it requires 3x the calorie burn as performing an exercise on the same level.