This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
You can learn tai chi privately from a tai chi master or in a class setting. If you are unable to find an instructor or do not have access to classes, you can learn tai chi from books and videos. (Keep in mind that if you opt to learn tai chi on your own, you will not get the valuable benefit of coaching and feedback from an experienced teacher.) You don't need special attire. Wear something you will be comfortable moving around in. Tai chi can be done in shoes or bare feet.
Sessions typically start with some sort of meditation to calm the mind, followed by easy warm-up exercises to get the blood circulating. You will be taught to focus on your dantian--an area in the lower abdomen just beneath the navel--which is the body's center of gravity. This will help you relax and center yourself. Deep breathing (from the diaphragm as opposed to the chest) is a key element of tai chi. You will learn to coordinate your breathing with each movement you make.
After the warm-up, your instructor will teach a series of slow flowing movements that performed together constitute a "form." Forms reflect the natural world and have names like "Crane Spreads Its Wings" and "Grasping the Bird's Tail." An average tai chi routine takes about 10 minutes, but a more advanced form may include up to 100 movements and require as long as an hour to perform.
Doing tai chi is not as easy as it looks. Perfecting the art demands focus and unity of mind, body, and spirit. Practice is essential. Many people make tai chi a regular habit, doing it at the same time every day. You may find tai chi to be an invigorating way to begin your morning or you may wish to do it after work to ease tension built up from the day.