Finding Your Qi: Tai Chi for Beginners

“Come as you are, do what you can, and have fun while you’re here,” says exercise physiologist Michelle Moten, founder and program director of Urban Solace Mind-Body Studio, a division of the Urban Wellness Group located in Detroit.

Tai chi has many health benefits, including reduced pain and stiffness, improved sleep and delayed aging. “Tai chi is a good exercise for stress management. It is a standing practice, so it is great for building bone density, balance and strength in the lower extremities as well,” adds Moten.

If you’ve never done tai chi before, here are a few simple tips to get you started:

  1. Focus. Tai chi is rooted in the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). A founding principle of TCM is that physical health is achieved when “the Qi in your body is full in all respects.” In order to achieve full Qi, start by first focusing on and being able to recognize your own Qi flow.
  2. Be aware. Once you are aware of your Qi flow, focus on your Qi base and use your legs to power the energy flow through your body. Wearing thin-soled shoes can help increase this connectivity between you and the energy flow around you.
  3. Relax. The key to achieving success in tai chi is to focus on your breathing and allow your body to relax. This is a great way to begin relieving stress as you exercise.
  4. Practice, practice, practice! Just like with any other exercise, the best way to improve is to consistently work on developing your skills.

Tai chi is a gentle exercise with few risks, which makes it an excellent workout for people of all ages and all abilities. However, if you are not in good health, are pregnant or suffer from a severe joint problem such as osteoporosis, you may want to talk with your doctor about starting a new exercise program.

This is the second year Urban Solace has offered free tai chi classes on the Detroit Riverfront, as part of the Live the Riverfront initiative sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Free weekly classes are held Wednesdays at 10 a.m. in the wetland area of Milliken State Park. For more information visit

Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan


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