If an exercise causes pain, either stop entirely or stretch your body a little less; perhaps even reduce the number of rotations. Tai Chi shouldn’t hurt. Do not lock any of your joints while performing these exercises. Locking a joint can cause undue stress and strain, which is to be avoided at all costs.
Every Tai Chi instructor will have different exercises for warm-ups, and these should be followed. Presented here are some simple ideas that might be incorporated.
Tai Chi Warm-Up – Knee Rotations
Stand with your feet together and facing forwards. Bend over at the waist and put your hands on you knees. Bend your knees and rotate them clockwise, keeping them together. Allow your body to move naturally with the rotations. Do this for twenty rotations, then stop and go counter-clockwise, again for twenty rotations.
If you knees hurt, either stop the exercise or bend a little less. This exercise will strengthen the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage of the knee. This movement will also enhance your ability to maintain balance and stability.
Tai Chi Warm-Up – Head Rotations
Stand comfortably with your feet apart, and arms at your sides. Raise your chin to stretch your neck. Make a circle, moving your head up, then to the side, down, and finally to the other side, rotating it first clockwise for twenty rotations, then counter-clockwise for twenty more rotations.
Let the stretch relieve the tension in your neck. Stress can cause the body to tire and age unnaturally. Let the mental tension leave your body also, and let the negative thoughts go through and replace then with positive thoughts.
Tai Chi Warm-Up – Heel Stretch
Rest all of your weight on your back leg, keeping your balance with your opposite heel. Bend forwards from the waist and rotate your torso in large circles, clockwise first for twenty rotations, then counter-clockwise for another twenty rotations.
Move slowly and feel your back, stomach and sides stretch. A strong and healthy back is the key to good health. Just about every movement you make involves the back in some fashion. Switch to the other leg and repeat. Unlike most other exercises, this one has a total of eighty repetitions. This is good as it will help to strengthen your back.
Tai Chi Warm-Up – Foot Rotations
Raise one foot, keeping the opposite leg strong and steady. Rotate your leg using the knee as a pivot point, keeping the leg hanging downwards towards the bottom of your foot pointing towards the floor. Do clockwise rotations for the count of twenty, then do twenty counter-clockwise rotations. Keep the knee as stationary as possible. The larger the circle you can make with your foot, the better.
Now switch legs and repeat the warm-up exercise. This is another exercise with eighty repetitions.
Tai Chi Warm-Up – Arm Swings
Stand comfortably with your feet shoulder-width or more apart. Let your arms swing forward and back, feel parallel and pointing forwards. Let your arms swing forward and back, keeping them shoulder-width apart with your palms facing inwards.
Relax your arms and shoulders. Keep the lower back pushed out and the buttocks tucked in. Feel your neck and shoulders relax more with each swing. Feel the energy flow into your hands. Do this for twenty repetitions.
These exercises are only a suggestion of what movements might help the body to prepare for the practice of Tai Chi. There are many others that could be used. If you enjoy using a great many exercises, consider keep a chart of your progress that includes the exercises you used on a particular day.