After readers have commented many times about the benefits of Tai Chi and suggested I give it a try, I did. Our library has a DVD, Tai Chi for Beginners, that I borrowed for several weeks to see if this was a form of exercise that interested me. Over the period I had the DVD, Betty and I did many of the initial breathing and positioning movements, along with a few of the postures.
By no means am I a Tai Chi expert. I can barely do many of the movements and poses without following the video. But, I can see a value for those of us who are getting less limber and having occasional balance issues. Even if the only positive is slowing down and breathing deeply, learning a bit about this ancient form of self defense that has evolved into a form of exercise may be worth your exploring.
Qi Gong and Tai Chi Postures
I started with Qi Gong, a series of breath and energy movements to still the mind and loosen up. Try as I might I couldn't relate to some of mystical meaning supposedly occurring during the exercises. Seeing the radiant light glowing from the energy downpour, sending energy to the vital energy centers or deepening the root connection through the feet is a bit much for me.
But, the slow stretching of the arms over the head or the pushing of the hands downward or reaching for the skies forced me to concentrate on what I was doing and empty my mind of most other thoughts (not all, but many!). It is all done so slowly that it is tough to get these moves wrong.
Next are Tai Chi Postures, like Lifting Hands, which actually takes six different steps, Ward Off Left and Right, or Guard the Temple and Push with Duck's Beak. They are not easy because there is a lot to remember. To someone new the movements look simple. Not true. Often hands, hips, toes, heels, and legs are involved in different orders and in different ways. The overall look is as if someone is twisting or lifting various body parts in very slow motion.
It is a little difficult to understand how such deliberate movement can have many health benefits. But, organizations as prestigious as the Mayo Clinic and the Harvard Health Foundation agree that Tai Chi's benefits are real. In addition to stress reduction, this meditation in motion form of exercise is also given credit for helping flexibility and balance. It puts very little stress on muscles and joints, is low impact, requires no equipment, can be done inside or out, alone or as part of a group.
Tai Chi Resources
A web site, 12 Health benefits Of Tai Chi for Seniors, may be the best place to easily review the health benefits for us older folks. Because it is non competitive and can be done alone until you are more comfortable with the various moves and poses, there are few barriers to you giving Tai Chi a try.
I found this sample of a Tai Chi course on YouTube. While this isn't the beginners course I used, the approach is similar. Starting at the 6:20 mark, Dr.Lam begins a lesson on the first slow movements for someone brand new to Tai Chi.
Frankly, whether I keep going with Tai Chi is an open question. I'd love to hear from anyone who practices Tai Chi. Has it been good for you, or really hasn't proven to provide many health benefits? Please share your experiences and thoughts while I go form a Duck's Beak with my hands.