Tai Chi Clouds Hands

A 7-Week Introductory Course To Taijiquan

In Taijiquan (Tai Chi) studies, Wuji Standing Meditation lays the foundation for stillness and rooting, while Cloud Hands (also known as Silk Reeling Exercises) are the building blocks of movement. These seemingly simple arm circles embody Taijiquan’s essential movement principles: 1) the external kinetic princple of whole-body movement with the Dantian as the center, and 2) the internal energetic principle that qi follows the mind, body follows qi, and mind, body and qi move as one). 

This course introduces the beginner to:

1. the foundational Cloud Hands / Silk Reeling Exercises including natural circles and reverse circles in various single-hand and double-hand combinations (scroll down to Curriculum for more details); 

2. in conjunction with the Cloud Hands arm movement: Five Steps (五步 wu bu) - center/fixed, left and right, front and back. 

These arm movements and steps are foundational to all styles of Taijiquan. 

At the end of this course, you will have acquired: 

1. A standalone practice offering the major health benefits of Tai Chi such as:

  • greater balance and lower-body strength,
  • better upper-body alignment (posture) and relaxation,
  • quicker access to calmness,
  • and many of the resuling benefits including enhanced immunity and reduced stress;

2. A reliable foundation for further studies of any style of Taijiquan (Chen, Yang, etc.) in a number of ways: 

  • a good coordination between the arms, legs and body weight that will make it easier to learn complex moves in form sequences (the beautiful choreographed flow you see in Tai Chi performances); 
  • a conceptual and (more importantly) embodied understanding of the kinetic and energetic principles of Taijiquan;
  • drills and routines you can keep using to refine your Taijiquan skills. 

All this of course depends on consistent participation in classes and practices.

Students who completed this course are saying:

"Although I have learned cloud hands exercise in the previous Taichi course, this course is not just a repetition. I have learned more details about cloud hands and how it helps my Taichi practice. I felt energized after each practice session." - Shushu

"This course expanded my ways of using cloud hands, and made me more aware of moving in any direction. This course teaches fundamentals of Taiji and how to move towards developing advanced techniques, and is beneficial to all who want to learn about or develop their Taiji." - Robert

"It exceeded my expectations because I came away feeling I could begin to sense these movements from inside myself. I had always thought that couldn't be taught, but just would take a hundred years of practicing the external shapes and then if you're lucky you'll start to get the inner feeling of it. What was so exceptionally helpful for me was the way each element was taken one small part at a time, explained, demonstrated, practiced slowly, feedback given, practiced again, and bit by bit connected to the next thing. ... The thoroughness and repetition really helped me. Also, especially, the instruction and cueing about how and where to notice in my own body the feeling of the alignment and the moving force and the center of gravity." - Anonymous

"Yan is an excellent teacher, precise, demonstrates and explains with appropriate detail, listens actively for questions and comments." - Elizabeth

A glimpse of what you will be learning and practicing

This is a clip from the free Workshop on Tai Chi Cloud Hands where I lead participants from fixed-step to moving-step cloud hands. We will be doing this around the second week of the course, after practicing proper alignment, relaxation, and stepping.

You can watch the recording of the entire workshop here.

Cloud Hands doesn't have to be always slow. When practiced fast with free stepping, it is energizing and trains our adaptability. We will work on this in the later part of the course.

Course Format

This course includes about 60 minutes of instructional videos and a led practice (45 minutes) each week. 

Instructional Class


  • Warm up the joints
  • Wuji Standing
  • Cloud Hands of the week (see curriculum below), including instructions, led practice, and self practice
  • Q&A and individual feedback during class (if desired by individual students and if time allows) 

Led Practice Session


  • A 40-minute guided continuous practice including warmup, Wuji Standing, Cloud Hands of the week (in a flow), closing


Week 1: Natural Circles, Single Hands 單手順纏

Week 2: Natural Circles, Alternating Hands 雙手交替順纏

Week 3: Reverse Circles, Single Hands & Alternating Hands 單手逆纏; 雙手交替逆纏

Week 4: Double-hand Chasing Circles 雙手交替順逆纏

Week 5: Double-hand Synchronized Circles with Forward Steps 進步雙手同纏

Week 6: Front and Back Circles with Alternating Hands 雙手前後交替逆纏

Week 7: Putting it all together

Tai Chi Cloud Hands

Learn to connect to and move your qi in 7 Weeks

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this course suitable for beginners with no experience in Tai Chi, Qigong, or Meditation?

Yes! This course is designed for beginners with no prior experience in Taijiquan (Tai Chi).

Is this course suitable for people who studied Tai Chi before?

Yes. This course can be taken by current or past students of Taijiquan who:

1) are looking to improve and refine their taiji skills, including barehand forms and push hands (although we will not be learning or practicing push hands in this course);

2) have taken a break from Tai Chi and are looking for a way to ease back in to practice;

3) have not studied Silk Reeling Exercises systematically.

I have more questions. How do I contact you? 

You can email Yan at [email protected].

cloud hands, tai chi hands...

And, just for fun - this is a cloud hands routine played at 20x speed.

Instructor: Master Yan Li

Yan Li (李艳) is a Master Instructor of Chen Style Taijiquan certified by American Chen Taiji Society (2019) and by Chen Qingzhou Taiji Institute (陈庆州太极功夫院) in Wenxian, Henan, China (2011). She is also a faculty member at California University - Silicon Valley (formerly Nine Star University of Health Sciences), and was a Taiji instructor in the Health Improvement Program at Stanford University for 8 years. Yan was a multi-year gold medalist and judge at regional Chinese martial arts competitions, and has over ten years of experience teaching Taiji and Qigong in group or private settings, and leading Taiji workshops and intensives.

Yan's approach to Taijiquan instructions and coaching draws from her multi-disciplinary background as an academic and educator. She earned her PhD degree in sociology from Stanford University and her master's degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Peking University, and taught college-level language courses in China and sociology courses in the United States. She practices student-centered teaching and coaching models where each individual is met where they are and encouraged to take the lead in growing and transforming from within. She works with students and clients of all ages and backgrounds.