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Tai Chi walking is a form of movement that integrates the principles of an ancient discipline that has been practiced in China for centuries. Tai Chi is both a physical and a spiritual practice, focusing on improving the mind and body together with a wide assortment of exercises and meditations. This form of exercise can be practiced alone or combined with other aspects of Tai Chi practice, depending on personal inclination.
The goal of Tai Chi walking is to gently exercise the body while improving posture and gait by focusing on the act. Some practitioners also like to meditate while they walk, grounding and centering their bodies as they travel. People can choose to use this as a method of exercise or a mode of transportation, bringing consciousness to a move from point A to point B.
There are a number of advantages to this form of walking as an exercise. For starters, no extra equipment is needed, because the walker has all the tools he or she needs at foot, as it were. In addition, it is very gentle, making it suitable for people of all ages and at all levels of physical ability. It can also be a very companionable form of exercise, as people can walk alone or in groups, depending on preference.
In Tai Chi walking, the body weight is very deliberately transferred from foot to foot, with the focus being on the creation of a smooth, even gait that feels almost like flowing or rolling, rather than stomping along. The gentle shift of weight encourages people to use all of the muscles in their legs as they walk, and it is said to stimulate the flow of chi, or life force, around the body and through the legs.
As a general rule, the gait is slow, smooth, and very rhythmic. Walkers are encouraged to think of their bodies as being very light, placing each foot deliberately and firmly, yet lightly on the ground as they walk. Some people say that they feel sort of like boats bobbing along a stream as they practice Tai Chi walking.
By being conscious of the body as it moves, individuals can become attuned to things going on both inside and outside of themselves. They may start to notice sore spots that need gentle stretching or other work, for example, and may also start to notice the texture of the ground and the natural world around them. Many people practice walking barefoot or in lightweight shoes to get a better sense of the world around them.