What Are the Benefits of Tai Chi Walking?

There are many benefits and variations of Tai Chi walking. As long as you transfer your weight from one foot to the other and stay in your personal comfort zone, it is safe and effective. Some people equate it to walking like a cat; taking light quiet steps. Some like to meditate while they walk. If you want or need, it can also be your bridge to meditation. Combining meditation and physical activity is the emerging foundation of integrative medicine, mind body medicine, holistic health care, wellness, fitness and disease prevention.

Benefits of Tai Chi walking:

  • Improves balance

  • Calms and relaxes

  • Sinks the qi

  • Decreases the incidence of falls

  • It’s safe, inexpensive, effective

  • Can be done inside or outdoors

If you are new to Tai Chi (or just wish to improve your form) Tai Chi walking is a great exercise to practice. To do Tai Chi correctly one must practice proper body alignment, while moving the joints and the body as a unit. It is important to focus on the principles of rooting, grounding and weight shifting, whether Tai Chi walking or doing form.

The head is large and heavy, which causes people to lead with the upper body when moving forward. If you doubt that, take a look at someone with a cellphone in their hand as they walk! With our body upright and weight correctly shifting from one foot to the other, all body movements are directed by the Dantian which transfers power from the lower to the upper body. Yes, you read this correctly! The waist (Dantian) directs the rooting power from the Earth and the legs to the upper body as the torso turns from side to side. If another part of the body directs the movement, the energy (qi) and power are greatly diminished, and full health benefits are lost.

How to start:

  • Place the feet together, knees soft or slightly bent and weight distributed evenly on both feet.

  • Transfer all the weight to one leg and slowly lift the heel of the unweighted foot. Now lift the unweighted foot and take a natural step forward (shorter is better here). Place the heel down, then lower the foot without weight, at about a 45 degree angle outward. Now slowly transfer the full weight to the front foot. The back foot is now unweighted. Both heels should be on the floor.

  • Repeat by lifting the heel of the unweighted foot, lift the foot and take a natural step forward (do not overstep), placing the heel down, then the foot at about a 45 degree angle outward without weight. Now transfer the full weight to the front foot.

  • Repeat until you are comfortable, out of room, or out of time.

When walking, look straight ahead, breathe normally and focus on the bottom of the feet. Sinking is subtle and relies on being relaxed and going slowly to create a smooth, even gait.

Did you notice that your eyes look straight ahead, rather than down at a cell phone or ipod? And the best part about Tai Chi walking? It can be done anywhere, within reason. The park. The mall. Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom – do you see where I’m going with this? What’s not to love?