Staff Health Challenge: The Tai Chi Slowdown

If you’ve ever seen tai chi being done at a class or at the park, you know it looks like an interesting dance—at a snail’s pace.

Up until this week, I never had.

So as I sat there watching my three teachers at The New York School of T’ai Chi Chuan go through their demonstration, I thought, “Wow. They’re going really slowly—a little too slowly. Umm, can they fast-forward this a bit?” I worried that this wasn’t for me. I speed-walk through life regardless of whether I have somewhere to go or not. “I should’ve chosen kickboxing instead,” I thought to myself.

But then, as I went through the poses, I felt myself stomp on the brakes and gradually focus more on my body. I realized that my neck and shoulders were super-tense, and I kept reminding myself to relax that area. This ancient martial arts form is also great for balance, focusing and stress relief.

When the teachers went through the entire routine, it seemed fluid, graceful and easy, but getting to that level is a lot harder than it looked. We have to master one pose—meaning arms, hips and feet are placed correctly—before moving on to the next.

It’s going to take a while, but I’m enjoying the pace (and, on the way, gaining a little virtue called patience).