There are some things that are easy and some that are not so easy. One of the ‘not so easy’ type, is to do anything that ‘reeks’ of exercise on a daily basis.
Beginners to Tai Chi, may find it quite difficult to train daily and some instructors hardly mention the ‘P word’, PRACTICE, at all, for fear of scaring students away. So, what’s to be done?
Well I’ll address this problem from two viewpoints, that of the instructor and that of the student.
As an instructor, it is really important to mention to your students that the maximum benefits from Tai Chi come not when you are doing it in a group but in your own private practice. There you can align your body’s movements with both your breathing and with your mind in a way and to a depth that is just not possible in a class.
Students need to know that the deep deep relaxation, the meditative aspects, will generally only reveal themselves in solo practice. They also need to have it explained that it’s the deep deep physical relaxation that allows the body to reach new heights of health and regeneration, and they are a gift that you give to yourself.
Now, obviously Tai Chi is not a magic potion and it can’t prevent or cure all diseases (wouldn’t it be great if it could) but it does do a lot of wonderful things. The most basic (and maybe the most important) of which, is that it helps de-stress you and that allows your immune system to function better. Or, if I am being picky - it stops stress from impairing your immune system.
There are of course many other benefits that an instructor should explain including self-defence. In particular, explaining that if you intend to use Tai Chi (or any martial art) for self defence then daily practice is really the only way to develop and keep a useful level of skill and co-ordination.
As a student: The most difficult thing with any new thing that needs to be done regularly is making it a habit. The majority of us are creatures of habit, we brush our teeth every morning or we have lunch at our favorite restaurant or ... 1001 things that we do repeatedly for no particular reason other than they have become a habit. Old habits are generally taken for granted and it’s the new ones that are problematic. Your Tai Chi practice needs to become a habit, something that you do almost every day, virtually without thinking.
How do you make something a habit? I’m reminded of the old gag - ‘How do you eat an Elephant?’ to which the answer is ‘One bite at a time.’ - In other words to build your habit, start by dedicating yourself to do TWO MINUTES of Tai Chi every day - yes, just two minutes. Once that becomes regular and easy, then increase to 3 minutes, then 5, then 10 and before you know it, you will find that 30 or 60 minutes a day (or even more) is natural and easy.
Start slow and get the ‘Tai Chi’ deep into your body, mind and ‘soul’. Once it becomes part of you, you will find that its benefits become more obvious as well as easier to maintain.
Oh yes, what if ‘GASP, HORROR’ you forget and miss a day or a week or whatever... Don’t worry, Tai Chi will forgive you, just simply start doing it again.