Many arts and practices that come from other cultures can sometimes be misunderstood. A good example is the art of Tai Chi. Many people in North America are unfamiliar with the origins and benefits of Tai Chi. This has led to the formation of a few unfortunate myths and misconceptions surrounding it.

At Just Breathe Tai Chi, we’re happy to not only offer a wide range of live and on-demand Tai Chi classes but also to provide clients with proper information on this incredible art and all the benefits it may bring. Here are some of the most common myths we’ve heard about the practice of Tai Chi, plus the correct information in each area.

Myth #1: Tai Chi Isn’t a Good Workout

Because Tai Chi involves many slow, deliberate movements, many people mistakenly believe that it can’t possibly be an effective form of exercise.

In reality, though, Tai Chi is a low-impact workout that can provide significant health benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility, and better balance. After all, its origins are in martial arts. Yes, you can even trim your waistline by practicing Tai Chi!

Myth #2: Tai Chi Is Only for Older Adults

While it’s true that Tai Chi can be an excellent form of exercise for seniors, it’s certainly not limited to this age group. In fact, Tai Chi can be beneficial for people of all ages, from kids to adults to seniors.

The slow, deliberate movements of Tai Chi can help improve focus and concentration, while the low-impact nature of the workout makes it a good option for people who may not be able to participate in more high-impact activities. One of the best things about Tai Chi is that it is completely adaptable to any physical capabilities and goals you may have at any age!

Myth #3: Tai Chi Is a Religion

Tai chi is not a religion, but rather a form of exercise that can be beneficial for people of all faiths. The movements and practices involved in Tai Chi are based on a philosophy from ancient China, but they can be enjoyed and practiced by people of all backgrounds. The premise of the philosophy, and the practice is the concept of bringing order and harmony to many layers of the world of nature, the world of human society, and the inner world of human individuals.

Tai Chi is a practice of unity and opposites; Yin and Yang. The principle of Yin Yang sees the world as filled with complementary forces—action and non-action, light and dark, hot and cold, and so on.

Myth #4: I Have Bad Knees, So I Can’t Participate

In some cases, people avoid trying Tai Chi because they mistakenly believe that the movements will be too difficult or painful for them to perform. Unlike Yoga, there aren’t any postures that require you to sit or kneel on the floor. And any of the movements and postures can be modified to accommodate people of all abilities and fitness levels.

If your Tai Chi classes are taught by a quality instructor, none of the movements should hurt or cause you to say “ouch”! In our Just Breathe Tai Chi online classes, we welcome feedback and questions and offer suggestions for modifications for our students. Our in-person Tai Chi classes offer our instructors the ability to actually adjust your body physically as well.

Tai Chi is a journey. It is your journey and adapts to your changing needs and abilities. Our students have found that when you practice Tai Chi as intended, Tai Chi will help your knees not hurt them.

Again, it is advised to work with a good instructor that will help you modify the movements.

Myth #5: It’s the Same as Yoga

Another common misconception is that Tai Chi is just another form of Yoga. While both Tai Chi and yoga are beneficial forms of exercise, they are actually quite different.

Tai Chi is based on the principle of Yin and Yang, and the movements are slow and deliberate. Yoga, on the other hand, is based on the philosophies of Hinduism and Buddhism, and the movements—depending on the style— may often be faster-paced and more challenging. Once again, there is no floor work in Tai Chi and no need for special equipment.

Overextending, overstretching, and pushing one’s self is discouraged in Tai Chi. Tai Chi is about balance and harmony with where you are today and being mindful and kind to your body.

We have students preparing for and recovering from shoulder replacement surgery, knee and hip replacements, you name it. Our students have reported that their doctors and physical therapists make comments about how unusually rapid their recovery period is.

Explore Tai Chi for Yourself

We hope this article has helped to clear up some of the myths surrounding Tai Chi. If you’re interested in learning more about this incredible art, be sure to check out our live and on-demand Tai Chi courses at Just Breathe Tai Chi today!

Here are some resources to get you started.

Just Breathe Online Tai Chi Class Sample Video

Tai Chi For Everyday Life—Free Tai Chi Classes

16-Movement Form Demonstration—Front View

Tai Chi Testimonials and Student Stories