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Tai Chi

“T’ai Chi means ‘the ultimate.’  It means improving, and progressing toward the unlimited; it means the immense existence and the great eternal.”   –  Waysun Liao, T’ai Chi Classics  

What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is considered to be an internal martial art developed centuries ago.  It has philosophical origins in Taoism and can be understood as a physical practice of Chinese Yin/Yang theory.  The Tai Chi classics state that “the mind mobilizes the chi, and the chi mobilizes the body.”  Tai Chi practice has been proven to have many health benefits ranging from decreasing stress, improving balance, strength, and flexibility to decreasing arthritic and chronic pain.  It is no surprise that Tai Chi is so frequently prescribed by Chinese medical doctors.

What is Chi?

Chi is a concept readily accepted in Chinese culture.  Many in the West believe that chi is something imaginary and question its existence.  For the skeptics it is best to understand “chi” as an expression of your intention.  For example, you can feel chi when thinking of bending your elbow.  Try it, but think slowly.  Notice the feeling in your lower belly and in your biceps the moment before you bend your elbow.  Repeat it several times and you will begin to understand this internal dynamic.  Intention is what drives our movement and our actions.

Tai Chi Basics and Practice

Perhaps two of the most common things my Tai Chi instructor (sifu) says to me during practice are “slow” and “every movement clean.”  Tai Chi is performed slowly so that we can focus our attention precisely on this internal dynamic of movement.  Through dedicated training we can improve the coordination of our mind, body, and spirit and observe that it also improves many other aspects of our lives.  I meet with sifu every Saturday morning.  He speaks very little English and recently handed me a slip of paper which I now carry with me in my wallet.  He listed six principles to consider when practicing.

These six principles are really all you need for a successful and enjoyable Tai Chi practice:

  1. Mind and body completely relaxed.
  2. Breath and movement coordinated.
  3. Move comfortably.  Never strain.
  4. Open.  Don’t draw back.
  5. 100% attention on movements.
  6. Smoothness in all movements.

Tai Chi at Shift

At Shift, we offer both private one-on-one Tai Chi lessons and Tai Chi classes led by our Physical Therapist, Matt Leve.  Matt can also see clients for Tai Chi-based physical therapy, Feldenkrais lessons, and personal training. Matt has a unique understanding of Tai Chi based on his 20+ years of practice in the martial arts also including Aikido, Shotokan Karate, and Tae Kwon Do in addition to his Feldenkrais training.  He recently competed in The 6th Tai Chi Competition in New York 2016 and won second place in the individual Tai Chi Chuan 24 Form.

The Shift Model of Care:

  • Shift treats the whole you—body, mind and spirit because these elements of your health are always connected.
  • Shift uses a collaborative model to inform and empower you with multiple perspectives.
  • Shift is a supportive environment where you are invited to notice your own shifting self-awareness.


95 University Place, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10003

Shift is conveniently located between 11th and 12th Street, just 2 blocks from Union Square. Nearby Subway lines include L, N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6.

Try Tai Chi Today

Call Now (212) 604-1316