Once relaxation exercises are done, the physical class structure will probably have students staggered throughout the room facing the instructor in lines. The instructor usually faces the class, which forms lines throughout the room, giving each student enough space to swing their arms without striking one another. However, smaller, more informal classes may form a circle. An instructor may alternate facing the class or with his or her back to the class, and may move around the room as well giving students different angles to see from.
In a class formed in lines facing the instructor, find a place where you can see what the instructor is doing. Many large classes will have advanced students to help, and you can watch them if you can't see the instructor. If you can't see what's going on, ask questions or change places. Be clear of your needs. The teachers want to help you understand the movements, but in a larger class, they may not know you need further explanation. Don't be afraid to speak upthey want to help you understand.
The following list gives you an idea of the process a Tai Chi class might go through; however, each instructor has their own format.
* Sitting or Standing Relaxation Exercise (if your class performs this).
* Tai Chi warm-up exercisesgentle, repetitive movements that prepare you physically and mentally for Tai Chi (many warm ups are moving QiGong exercises and are discussed in detail in Part 3, "Starting Down the QiGong Path to Tai Chi").
* After warm-ups, the instructor may teach individual movements to practice, or if she teaches by exhibition, she will begin performing the entire Tai Chi set and you will be expected to follow along.
* Your homework is the movements themselves, although it is highly recommended to begin using the QiGong relaxation exercises at home for your own health and pleasure.
Tai Chi usually does not require anyone to sit or lie on the floor; however, some instructors may have warm up or cool down exercises that require it. If you are unable to do so because of an injury or physical limitation, discuss alternatives with the instructor.