Tai Chi is popular because it is easy to do and provides a gentle workout that doesn’t leave you drained, but energized! Tai Chi’s “effortless” nature is a big stretch for most of us, however, because we associate exercise with force, pain, and tension. In fact, some exercise actually contributes to stress. When I played junior high football in west Texas many years ago, the coaches determined that we were through running when one of us started throwing up. That’s right, upchucking. It was the only time in my life I ever hoped to see someone throw up.
Tai Chi is helping the world get a healthy, enjoyable view of exercise. As a nation, we have adopted a mutant notion of exercise, exemplified by the mantra “no pain, no gain.” This has traumatized many Americans, including myself, leaving an indelible mark on how we view exercise. In Tai Chi we have a mantra, too, “If your exercise causes pain, you’ll get so sick of the thought of it that you’ll never want to do it again.” Ours isn’t as neatly poetic as “no pain, no gain,” but ours makes infinitely more sense. Tai Chi should always, always, always, feel good. And since it does feel good, you will look forward to it. Each morning you will find yourself grateful that you’re alive and able to practice this cool exercise called Tai Chi.