Expert Corner: Jim Liang on Tai Chi

Meet Jim

Jim Liang has been a Tai Chi instructor at Mayfair Clubs for the last six years and he has been teaching Tai Chi as a professional since 1991. In his time at Mayfair, Jim has taught various Tai Chi techniques to members across all three Mayfair locations; from basic body adjustments and movements to breathing methods and various Tai Chi styles. Jim also trains and coaches high performance athletes and dancers by implementing Tai Chi into their daily fitness regime.  He also teaches at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Jim’s mission is to share the secrets of this ancient art form to bring lifelong health and vitality to all.

We sat down with Jim to learn more! 

Jim Liang practicing Tai Chi on the top of Machu Picchu

What is Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.

Tai Chi is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion. Tai Chi has many different styles – where some may focus on health maintenance others focus on martial arts.

What Style of Tai Chi is Right for Me?

There are five major styles of Tai Chi, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated: Chen style (陳氏) of Chen Wangting (1580–1660) Yang style (楊氏) of Yang Luchan (1799–1872) Wu Hao style (武氏) of Wu Yuxiang (1812–1880). (Source: Wikipedia )

Yang and Wu style are easier to learn and are recommended for beginner levels. If you are recovering from an injury, the upright posture and easy adaptations of the Yang style is recommended.

If your goal is to build leg strength or stretch out tight muscles, you’ll see faster results from Tai Chi styles that incorporate larger movements and more extension, like Chen style Tai Chi.

What are the benefits of Tai Chi? 

Everyone can benefit from practicing Tai Chi as long as they can move!  Tai Chi is the perfect daily exercise for all ages and interests and it can improve your overall health. The benefits of Tai Chi practice may include:

  • Decreased stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improved mood
  • Improved aerobic capacity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility
  • Improved muscle strength and definition

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

What is the difference between Tai Chi and Yoga? 

The main difference between Tai Chi and Yoga is that Tai Chi is a system that evolved from martial arts in China. On the contrary, Yoga is a meditative and spiritual discipline that originated in ancient India. Tai Chi develops a lot more leg strength whereas yoga is a lot more strength balanced throughout the limbs. Yoga focuses on static core strength and flexibility whereas Tai Chi applies that core strength dynamically in movement powered through your hips.

Is Tai Chi for seniors only? Is it good for people of all fitness levels and age?

Tai Chi is a great physical activity for everyone! I started practicing when I was 18. As the training can be very gentle to the body, many seniors choose Tai Chi as a daily exercise but anyone can and should do it!

On the other hand, Tai Chi training can also be adjusted to a higher intensity to build endurance, strength, explosive power and more. From my experience, I believe that Tai Chi is excellent training for all kinds of sports and for all fitness levels.

About Mayfair’s Tai Chi Class

Tai Chi at Mayfair is a drop-in class which requires no previous experience to attend. Come and join one of Jim’s classes and experience the powerful benefits of Tai Chi. To find class times, visit our online fitness schedule.