How to Do Tai Chi’s Horse Stance

The horse stance is one of the basic posture stances in Tai Chi, which can help you energize, relax, and strengthen your body.[1] You can practice the basic horse stance throughout your daily life and add in arm workouts and exercises for an extra challenge. Keep your mind focused on how your body feels and how you are breathing to get the most out of this powerful stance.


[Edit]Positioning Your Body

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Find a level surface to stand on and stand with your feet directly under your hips. Keep your toes pointed forward away from your body as you stand up straight.[2][3]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • Starting with the correct footing will create a solid foundation for the rest of your stance.
  2. Unlock your knees and relax your pelvis. Instead of straightening your knees and locking them into place, bend them slightly so your legs aren’t straight.[4] Relax your pelvis and lower torso so it sits on top of your legs comfortably without much effort.[5]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • You can think of your pelvis as being heavy or weighted so it hangs down on top of your legs.
  3. Relax your lower back so your tailbone feels heavy. Take note of how your lower back and rear muscles feel. If they are tense or tight, relax them to release your energy. Let your tailbone hang down over your legs as though it feels weighted.[6].
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 3 Version 2.jpg
  4. Hold your neck in a neutral position so your head feels light. Face straight ahead with your chin held parallel to the ground. Relax your neck muscles and think of a string attached to the crown of your head, pulling it upwards so that it feels weightless.[7]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • The more you relax your neck, the better your posture will be.
  5. Tuck your chin to correct your posture. Instead of jutting your head out, think about tucking your chin into your neck to keep your spine straight and aligned. Avoid stretching or straining your neck too much, and relax your shoulders.[8]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • When you first start doing the horse stance, it may be helpful to watch yourself in a mirror.

[Edit]Adding Arms

  1. Raise your arms out in front of you with your palms facing inwards. Keeping your legs and torso in place, slowly raise your arms up in front of you so they’re in line with your shoulders. Turn your palms in towards you and put energy into your fingers so that they’re spread wide.[9]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • You may feel like you’re holding a round beach ball or hugging a large tree.
  2. Push your shoulders down and relax your spine. As you hold your arms at shoulder-height, try not to hunch or curve your back. Roll your shoulders backwards to keep your posture straight and relax your spine as you do so.[10]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • Try to create a balance between energy in your body and relaxation. As you hold your arms up, relax the rest of your body.
  3. Hold the pose for about 20 minutes or until you feel fatigued.[11] The horse stance is a grounding, relaxing exercise that you can do as often as you’d like to. Try holding the pose and taking stock of how your body feels while you stand perfectly still.[12]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 8 Version 2.jpg
    • If your arms get tired, slowly lower them to your sides and hold them there.
    • Or, you can swing your arms back and forth for fluidity in your shoulders.
  4. Breathe in deeply through your stomach as you hold the pose. Take stock of how you are breathing as you relax into the horse stance. Take a deep breath in and fill up your stomach, then slowly let it out. Breathing exercises can help you ease anxiety and stress.[13]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 9.jpg

[Edit]Practicing the Horse Stance

  1. Do the horse stance whenever you are standing in your daily life. If you’re in line at the grocery store, waiting at the bus stop, or talking on the phone, try getting into the horse stance position. You don’t have to add in the arms if you’re in public, but you can use the stance to practice good posture throughout the day.[14]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 10.jpg
  2. Use the horse stance to practice stability. Holding the horse stance is an easy way to strengthen your legs, back, and arms. Try holding the horse stance for as long as you can, giving your body a break, and then trying it again. If you do this 2 to 3 times a day, you can build up muscle and stamina.[15]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 11.jpg
    • Try doing the horse stance in a relaxing setting, like outside in nature.
  3. Bend your knees into a squat for an added challenge. Slowly bend your knees until you are in a comfortable squat position. Lean slightly forward to keep your balance with your arms held in front of you. Hold the squat for about 10 seconds, then slowly raise back up to the original stance.[16]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 12.jpg
    • You don’t have to try a squat, but it can help to improve your strength and flexibility.
    • Do a squat as many times as you’d like to, or until your legs feel tired.
  4. Relax your body and relieve stress with the horse stance. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or nervous, try getting into the horse stance and breathing deeply. You can use this time to meditate or reflect on your thoughts in a neutral, non-judgemental way.[17]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 13.jpg
    • You can also take stock of your body and how it feels during the horse stance. Focus on any discomfort or pain you are feeling to find out where it stems from on your body.
    • You can focus your thoughts on one particular subject or let them roam.
  5. Start with the horse stance, then move into other Tai Chi exercises. The horse stance is a starting stance in Tai Chi, meaning you can move onto other movements if you’d like to.[18] Try bending your knees and rocking from side to side, lifting each leg one at a time, or squatting deeply and holding.[19]
    Do Tai Chi's Horse Stance Step 14.jpg
    • The horse stance is a great introduction into Tai Chi movements since it teaches you to relax your body while holding a pose.


  • Tai Chi takes practice, and mastering the horse stance may take you a few tries.
  • If your knees hurt while doing horse stance, put more weight in your heels and straighten your knees slightly.
  • Start by holding the stance for 5 minutes per day, then gradually increase your time.

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