Elderly tai chi experts guide you through the first steps of a lifelong journey
Tai Chi Trainer
I believe that as a general rule, you only see older people doing tai chi because it takes that long to learn how to do it. But as Dr Paul Lam, creator of the Tai Chi Trainer app, says: 'A journey of 1,000 miles starts with the first step.'
After the introductory video, the first training video on this app describes a short set of qigong movements. This puzzled me until I discovered, through a quick web search, that tai chi is technically a form of qigong.
Qigong is the philosophy and practise of movements and breathing techniques to stimulate inner energy. So the first step was a mental one - to start visualising my chi, or inner energy.
Guided by Lam, I squinted at my iPhone screen and imagined a force resisting, while I slowly 'pushed' my opened palms towards each other and then 'pulled' them away from each other. I began to understand the slow deliberate movements and focus associated with tai chi.
The main video of 38 minutes covers movements for beginners with evocative names such as 'parting the white horse's mane'.
While many lower-priced apps tend to be basic, this video isn't. Lam and his class of elder citizens demonstrate each move very slowly. They repeat the movement, giving you the chance to follow. Lam gives alternative stances if you don't have enough strength or flexibility.
Lam is a good teacher but the app is sometimes confusing. I understand the value of a live tai chi group with real people to follow. The benefit of this app is that you arrive at your first live tai chi session with a few moves under your belt. Tai chi is truly a journey of 1,000 miles.