Tai Chi-tastic

Posted on September 28, 2012


This morning I had a sweet little run around MacRitchie Reservoir, a gorgeous lush green network of trails in the heart of Singapore and just a stones throw from my sister Rosie’s house. When in this city, it’s always top of my agenda.

As the sun started to shine through the thick, dense clouds and the humidity started to weigh me down, I felt hot and got a little breathless. So I walked a little. And then I stopped.  I stopped to watch a couple do their morning Tai Chi. Standing in a pagoda reaching out into the reservoir, they looked so terribly graceful and at peace … totally serene and trouble-free.

Me being a long-time Asian expat brat means I’m no stranger to seeing dozens of locals hit the parks at dawn break to practise this ancient art but this morning I started to wonder why this amazing discipline has never really spread throughout the world like other martial arts or other mind : body disciplines even such as yoga.

Tai Chi is a beautiful art form. It is a physical exercise with amazing benefits, an effective martial art and also a ‘guide book’ towards spiritual enlightenment. It’s often referred to as ‘shadow boxing’ because many of the movements simulate hand-to-hand combat.

The benefits are multiple:

  • It makes you more self-aware and promotes personal growth
  • It improves co-ordination, posture and breathing
  • It facilitates relaxation and mindfulness
  • It leads to greater stability, better mobility and accelerated metabolism
  • It enhances circulation, increases brain function and boosts detoxification
  • And more, much much more …

Its roots stem from the Chinese mystical tradition of Taoism and Taoism is about an attunement with nature … not just nature that surrounds us but nature that lies within us … so whilst most start it purely for the physical benefits and the combat elements, sooner or later, far more profound benefits begin to appear.

Ultimately, it’s a wonderful antidote to our modern day worlds and as Singapore rush hour was at its peak, this couple appeared a million miles away from the touch of a button, the tap of a keyboard or the ping of new mail. You can’t help then but think that if Tai Chi were practiced more widely, amongst little kids and big kids in all four corners, there would perhaps be a little less aggression within us, a little less road rage, a little less stress … and just a little more harmony in our worlds. And as Gandhi so beautifully put:

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”


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