Tai chi travel tips

Simon Blish

Travelling can be a burden. Those long flights, cramped seats and never-ending queues can take their toll upon your body. And while the destination is undoubtedly worth it, it’s a good idea to make the journey as pleasant as you can too.

With that in mind, The Taoist Tai Chi™ Society of Great Britain came up with these great exercise tips inspired by the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi to help passengers relax and unwind before a flight.

These exercises are low-impact and involve breathing, relaxing, standing and walking. Although you do not need proper training, there is a helpful video at the end of this article to guide you.

Before a flight

1. Take a moment for yourself – breathe and be still

Designed to reduce and control stress, and to create a sense of mental equilibrium before boarding a flight, this exercise involves simply standing and breathing. Taoist meditation aims to achieve a state of stillness by emptying all thoughts from the mind. The idea is not to hold onto the thoughts that may arise in your head, but to allow them to pass as quickly as they come. By focussing on the body and its own inner workings, distractions are held at bay.

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-Stand with your feet parallel, shoulder width apart.
-Relax. Allow your weight to drop into your feet. You should feel physically balanced.
-Stand still.
-Breathe naturally, for a few minutes. Focus on the rhythm of your breathing and the rise and fall of your chest. –This should give you focus for a few minutes and allow you to put aside other concerns and stresses.
-When you are ready, allow your focus to slowly return to the world around you.

2. Relax and stretch before you board

Tai chi works the larger muscle groups in areas of the  body such as the legs, arms, and back. Tai chi exercises gently stretch these muscles, which increases their resilience, releases muscular tension and provides benefits for the joints, tendons, and ligaments.

Long-haul flyers who suffer from pain and stiffness might particularly benefit from the following simple exercise, which can be performed either standing or sitting down.

-Sit comfortably or stand with your feet parallel, shoulder width apart.
-Keep your back straight and stay relaxed.
-Raise your arms to shoulder height, fingertips pointing up. Drop your elbows.
-Relax. Allow yourself to be still but comfortable.
-Breathe normally, but allow your focus to move to the rhythm of your breathing.
-Now draw your focus to your arms. Rotate them from elbow to middle finger for a few minutes.
-Lower your arms palms down. Allow your focus to return to the world around you in your own time.

3. Relaxation techniques to help sleep

Tai chi increases general health and wellbeing by enhancing circulation in the body. The movement of blood, breath and energy is vital in allowing the body to relax and to function properly.

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-Sit with your feet parallel, shoulder width apart.
-Relax. Align your head, spine and hips in a balanced manner.
-Sit still but comfortably.
-Breathe naturally for a few minutes. Focus on the rhythm of your breathing.
-When you are ready, allow your focus to return to the world around you.

On board

1. Keep your circulation flowing to help feel energized

Doctors always advise that you should get up and move regularly during long-haul flights. Using tai chi, you can significantly improve the benefits of moving around the cabin and increasing your general energy levels.

-Stand with your feel parallel, shoulder width apart.
-Relax. Allow your weight drop into your feet, balanced.
-Breathe naturally but be aware of the rhythm of your breathing.
-Walk mindfully, feeling your weight drop equally and in a balanced manner into each foot.

Watch the video from the founder of the Society, Master Moy Lin-Shin, demonstrating the Taoist Tai Chi™ arts.

For further information on Taoist Tai Chi™ why not visit taoist.org to find out more and find a class near you.

About Simon Blish

Writing, drawing, editing - Simon loves it all.