Tai chi is a mind-body practice that goes back thousands of years.
Arthur Rosenfeld, one of the world's foremost experts, calls tai chi one of the crown jewels of traditional Chinese culture, and explains that it is built on a tripod: traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese martial art and Taoist philosophy.
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"One of the dimensions of me being in this field is that most really senior skillful guys in this art are not Yale literature majors, and they're not media people," he said. "They're old Chinese men. They're fantastically gifted masters, and I am dirt on their shoes. What they don't have is the ability to pass these on to people skillfully."
Rosenfeld, however, does. Here he offers five exercises that combine the body and the mind, a starter's kit if you will to tai chi. Learn them and grow; the result will be better physical and mental health and self-defense. "You have a recipe no other exercise can offer," he said.
Depending upon how many repetitions you want to do — Rosenfeld recommended a number with each exercise — this sequence could take from 10 to 20 minutes. He emphasized that because tai chi is a mind-body practice, "these exercises must be performed with mindful attention. If the mind wanders, tai chi is lost."
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Trying Tai chi
5 moves form a starter kit for focus and fitness
A resident practices Taiji next to a pet dog outside a temple in Beijing. (Jason Lee / Reuters)