Master Chen (no relation to the family of Chen Style taijiquan), was a tutor to the children of the famous tai chi grandmaster, Yang Cheng-Fu. Chen was also a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. From his extensive background, he shared five essential tips that help tai chi practitioners protect and increase their life force energy (called “qi” in Chinese).
1. Avoid eating at least 30 minutes before and after practice. The same advice is given for anyone who is a light smoker or had ingested beverages containing alcohol. This will allow your blood circulation and qi circulation to function at its optimum.
2. After practice, avoid eating cold food, fruit, or downing cold beverages. Avoid cold drafts and showers, and avoid thinking too much. Let the body and mind relax an hour or so. This will avoid what Chinese doctors call “cold damage” or “wind excess” to your body and qi energy.
3. To avoid spikes in your blood pressure, slowly walk around immediately after practice until your pulse returns to normal. Even if you feel tired, do not immediately sit or lie down. This is especially important for people with hypertension.
4. When engaging in a regular practice of tai chi, your body may generate and use up more energy while internal changes are occurring. You must make sure to get an adequate amount of sleep to protect your qi. However, sleeping in late on a regular basis is considered to be worse, as this damages the willpower. Master Chen, Yang-Ling warned us that, “late sleepers give up easily because of a corrupted spirit.” Traditional Chinese Medicine encourages us to protect our health by following the diurnal circadian rhythms, which is the natural state of healthy human qi function.
5. Do not practice if you are exhausted. However, Chen suggests that you can “mentally” practice while lying down. If seriously “burned out” the best thing to do to protect your qi is to do some simple qigong or breathing exercises and get the rest and nutrition that your body needs.
If you incorporate these tips into your regular practice, your qi will be abundant. This advice holds true for people who practice tai chi for correcting their health, as well as for those who train it to develop martial arts skills.