Tai chi is practiced by (probably) millions of people every morning. Early risers who visit China, Thailand and many other Asian countries will see groups (usually mostly women) in the city parks doing tai chi early in the morning. I've seen groups in New York's Central Park also. And a friend, whose life seems to be one stress after another, has done tai chi sporadically for years and claims it is calming and helpful.
A long time practitioner of yoga I felt no need to explore tai chi. But since a hip replacement my yoga habit was broken and some of the stretching exercises seemed too strenuous so I need a replacement and this was the year I decided to try tai chi. For a reasonable fee I began taking once a week classes at the nearest senior center with a young woman who clearly knows a great deal about tai chi as well as the martial arts of which it is an offspring/part (the relationship isn't entirely clear to me). I envisioned learning a slow, meditative series of movements that I would be able to do at home. I have not learned that from her. No two classes are the same, the parts do not flow into one another, I cannot make my feet work with my hands, my balance is off and sometimes I feel I've strained that somewhat cantankerous hip.
Yesterday I went to a free tai chi class at the community college which houses the Academy for Lifelong Learning in which I'm very active. This class was free, it was taught by a man who simply demonstrated, slowly, with a minimum of talk, a series of movements, many repeated several times, the kind of slow exercise I had expected. Two young women, one guy I know from the Academy and me -- in an empty room with some music on a tiny boom box and the teacher, mostly with his back to us so we could see him in a make shift mirror wall (black hanging beyond a glass window). It's what I wanted to learn. I will complete the three months I paid for at the Senior Center but then I will stop and keep going to these classes which will last through the spring semester, by which time I will have memorized the sequence and be able to do it at home. If he teaches it again next fall I will be there. I am truly not interested in Chinese martial arts, not at this age and it was never something appealing to my personality. I've found what I was looking for, I may even be able to include it in my beach walks next summer.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!