Why anyone can learn tai chi

From a recent Lumosity newsletter:

How the brain learns: 2 key research insights

Can brain research help us become better learners? Here are 2 key research insights to keep in mind next time you learn something new.

1. Learning means new connections in the brain

Your brain works like an electrical circuit. Every time you learn something new, connections form between neurons in your brain. Just as an electrical current travels through a circuit, signals are transmitted from one group of neurons to another. The stronger the electrical signal, the stronger the connection between the neurons.

If you have a daily ritual, you’ve felt the effects of a strong connection. Hopping in your car, turning the key in the ignition, and backing out of your driveway can all happen without you even thinking about it. This feeling of automaticity is a result of brain circuitry that’s been strengthened through repetition.

2. More connections mean more effective learning

Just as the strength of neural connections plays a role in learning, so does the quantity of connections. An isolated fact can be tough to remember, but you can make it easier for yourself by relating it to other networks of information in your brain.

Say you need to memorize that Benjamin Franklin was born in January 1706. Perhaps you can remember January because he had white hair, like snow in January. You can remember 1706 because you live at 170 Main Street, and you take the #6 bus to get to work.

You will be more likely to remember Benjamin Franklin’s birthdate now that you’ve formed connections across multiple neural systems. You’ll have a more robust network of connections for recalling this information later.

Now that you’ve read a bit about the brain research behind learning, try applying it the next time you learn a new fact.

So, what does this mean for learning tai chi?

Simply, by repeating moves, even just copying the teacher without too much thinking, you will slowly but surely start to learn the forms and exercises. However, not only will you slowly pick up the sequence of movements, but you will also gain the benefits of regular practice even if you don’t know the sequence in its entirety.