Class Structure - How Tai Chi & Qigong Are Taught

    Tools to help you get the most from your class, to relax into it, and
            make the class enjoyable for you, your teacher, and fellow students

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Class Structure

Tai Chi is informal, and each class is different. Some classes begin with a sitting QiGong exercise, using chairs forming a circle. For this relaxation exercise, the instructor will likely lead the group through an imagery exercise as they sit quietly with their eyes closed. Other classes will not use chairs and may begin with a standing relaxation exercise, also with the students' eyes closed. Still other instructors may begin the class by leading students in warm up exercises without practicing a QiGong or relaxation exercise.

Ouch !

Your main goal in Tai Chi class should be to relax and breathe. By not trying too hard, you learn more easily.

Students who frustrate themselves by mentally repeating that they "can't get it" usually prove themselves right.

If you really can't learn the movement, just follow the other students as you breathe and relax. You'll feel good after class, and you can repeat the session again, and you'll be the expert in class the second time around.

Once relaxation exercises are done, the physical class structure will probably have students staggered throughout the room facing the instructor in lines. The instructor usually faces the class, which forms lines throughout the room, giving each student enough space to swing their arms without striking one another. However, smaller, more informal classes may form a circle. An instructor may alternate facing the class or with his or her back to the class, and may move around the room as well giving students different angles to see from.

In a class formed in lines facing the instructor, find a place where you can see what the instructor is doing. Many large classes will have advanced students to help, and you can watch them if you can't see the instructor. If you can't see what's going on, ask questions or change places. Be clear of your needs. The teachers want to help you understand the movements, but in a larger class, they may not know you need further explanation. Don't be afraid to speak up—they want to help you understand.

The following list gives you an idea of the process a Tai Chi class might go through; however, each instructor has their own format.

* Sitting or Standing Relaxation Exercise (if your class performs this).

* Tai Chi warm-up exercises—gentle, repetitive movements that prepare you physically and mentally for Tai Chi (many warm ups are moving QiGong exercises and are discussed in detail in Part 3, "Starting Down the QiGong Path to Tai Chi").

* After warm-ups, the instructor may teach individual movements to practice, or if she teaches by exhibition, she will begin performing the entire Tai Chi set and you will be expected to follow along.

* Your homework is the movements themselves, although it is highly recommended to begin using the QiGong relaxation exercises at home for your own health and pleasure.

Tai Chi usually does not require anyone to sit or lie on the floor; however, some instructors may have warm up or cool down exercises that require it. If you are unable to do so because of an injury or physical limitation, discuss alternatives with the instructor.

"World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, takes place [the last Saturday of April] . . . To learn more, find instruction on the basics or discover a class in your area, go online to"

  -- USA Weekend

TEACHERS, this page is a great resource for your new students.

"Maybe we should have World Tai Chi and Qigong Day every week."

    -- International Herald Tribune

Imagine the Global Implications of Tai Chi & Qigong

The information provided is courtesy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and Qigong, now in fourth edition, with nearly 150 web video support videos to compliment the 300 illustrated instructions.

This overview of Tai Chi and Qigong has been heralded by Booklist Magazine, the nation's premiere library journal, by the United States Tai Chi Forms Grand Champion, Sifu Hong Yijao, and by Team USA Senior Coach, Dr. Michael Steward, Sr., who wrote that although he had studied and taught Tai Chi for over 30 years, he read this book 7 times, and found something new from it each time.

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