The beginning of any meditation will first bring your attention towards breathing. Deep, relaxed breathing is a wellspring of immediate benefits for your body and mind. It's easy, however, to begin taking shallow breaths, or even holding your breath, if these habits aren't noticed and addressed.
Tai Chi is an especially useful meditation for creating an intentional habit of deep breathing, because the duration of each movement depends on the depth of each inhale and exhale. Each movement is as long as the inhale or exhale supporting it.
As you breathe in during Tai Chi, your limbs fold inward and your weight drops backward and down, your knees bend, and potential is stored for the movement. As you breathe out, everything lifts upward and out to the apex of the movement. The body and breath find synergy through this association.
With intentional practice, your movements can harness power generated by your breathing. Good weight-lifting form includes pushing air out of the lungs during a lift. Tai Chi follows the same practice, but stretched out over a long and slow movement rather than pushing out air to quickly lift a weight.
Breathing will inevitably happen, and Tai Chi harnesses this fact by taking advantage of the natural momentum and rhythm breathing creates.
A deeper state of grounding and strength can be discovered when your movements become further in sync with your breathing. Becoming in sync with your breath means you won't be moving each limb of its own individual accord, which is very inefficient. Instead, the foundation of your movement starts at the beginning of each inhale to draw power in, and it can be expended on the exhale.
It's a good practice of Tai Chi to simply stand and feel the weight of your body against its own joints and the ground, and feel how your breath moves through your head and down to fill the bottom of your lungs. How does your body move in accordance to only to your breathing?
This aspect of Tai Chi provides many benefits, such as greater endurance, more oxygen for your circulation, greater awareness of yourself and your surroundings, mental clarity, and better posture. Breathing can also become a great pleasure to indulge in!
Previous Tai Chi posts:
Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Basic Stance
Part 3: Patience
Part 4: Cloud Hands
Part 5: Healing
Part 6: Raising Arms
Part 7: Breathing
Part 8: Hands Above Head
Part 9: Internal Martial Arts
Part 10: Circle Forms
Part 11: Cloud Hands with Side-Step