One of the benefits I am really grateful for in practicing Taiji is the depth of "grounding" or "rooting" I feel. And to my knowledge it is something you can't get from any other type of exercise or sport (bar other internal arts from the same tree e.g. - Qiqong, Zhang Zhuang). Even then I believe that Taiji involves a deeper level of "grounding", which underpins each slow transition of weight and force within its movements. Qiqong and Zhang Zhuang are generally stationary, and do appear to go for the depth that Taiji aims to develop (as far as I know).
I am using the word "grounding" as a layman's term not completely in the sense of a treated wooden post that sits inertly, vertically in the ground, with its base sitting under the ground. Well not at a more advanced level of practice anyway, maybe when you first start...but more like a tree with its roots reaching deep and outward. And the aptly-named term for this is "Root".
This "root" when synchronised with an upper body that is correctly aligned, relaxed and open gives you the most wonderful feelings from the base of your feet to the crown of your head and even fingertips. Your hips and pelvic area opens, your spine lengthens, drops and slightly tucks under and forward, pulling the connected lumbar, thoracic and cervical regions of your spine into an amazing vertical alignment where the spaces and discs between each vertebra feel like they open in a way you never ever experience in your life. This feeling is not the same as hanging by your arms (e.g. from a chin-up bar) in the air (feet off the ground). The result of this vertical alignment and rooting is that you feel a connection with the ground that extends beneath your feet and gives you the stability and strength of a deeply rooted tree.
The success of experiencing and replicating this experience depends on the clarity and strength of your mind's intention, your ability to cultivate the relaxation in your body and your accuracy in your vertical alignment and posture. As a result some days are better than others and of course it all these factors are directly related to your dedication to practice. But when you get it right, it feels wonderful!
Authour - Lee Chang Tye