The Month Of June Brings Breath Guided Tai Chi To Spring Street!
Healthy Living Blog
by Rachelle Tetreault, L,Ac
With the buzz of Spring in the air and some days the heat of summer, morning Tai Chi has begun on 63 Spring Street 9am sharp each Saturday before Farmer’s Market, weather providing. It is a free class for introducing some of my very favorite tai chi forms to be guided by breath and to harness precious energy which is the life force in us and all around us.
Tai chi began as an ancient martial art which is composed of subtle yet flowing movement. It is like a moving combination form of both meditation and yoga with a slow tempo. It originated from qi gong which is a disciplined art of balance of mind, breath, and movement. This dates back to over 2,500 years ago. Many of the movements were obtained from watching animals in the wild and obtaining some of their stealth movements along with poise. This precious art originally was used more for fighting movements but over time have shown the benefits are plentiful by helping to promote long life and enhance the life force or energy, we call qi.
Our physical energy just as the universe around us has five element components with constant interactions. These are metal, water, fire, earth, and wood. These elements are each related to a specific organ in our body which has a biorhythmic flow. This life force energy flow uses pathways called meridians. This is not only the circulatory flow of blood but of energy throughout the body. Just as the heart has the SA node, an electrical current of energy, there is life force energy all around us and in us. Tai chi , like acupuncture, can help harness this energy and improve circulation, unblock stagnations, and improve the proper flow of qi.
Tai chi benefits are many if performed on a regular basis. Not only does it help promote inner peace, mind-body coordination, but has even been shown to act as a form of rehab for injuries and behavior cognitive therapies. Improving blood circulation, strengthening muscles and joints, enhancing overall endurance, aerobic capacity, and overall reducing stress are some of the more known lasting benefits from regular practice. These can be accomplished by performing just a few minutes each day.
If ever visiting China, you will notice the parks are full in the early mornings of residents of all ages, especially the elderly, performing tai chi. The gracefully moving strokes with flow like movements are beautiful to watch and allow the body and mind to come together with breath guided coordination to create beautiful energy which can be harnessed and stored.
There are four main styles of tai chi which are the the Chen, Wu, Yang, and Hao. They were given names based off historical legendary figures utilizing these specific types. Yang is the most popular and uses a curve-like softness but yet powerful strokes. It is graceful, gentle, easy to learn, and has major health benefits. This is the type I practice with medical tai chi form to act more for rehabilitative and restorative purposes. Chen is similar to the art of boxing where Wu is slightly leaning forward posture with softness. Hao style is more centered on correct positioning and internal power and not as widely practiced. But all forms of tai chi bring yin and yang qualities. The balance of these two opposing elements are needed to create harmony.
A major study performed after only 6 weeks of tai chi showed a significant improvement in balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity. Improving the flexibility of joints, muscles and tendons improves posture and eventually balance. This also leads to less fall risks with the elderly. Patients with preexisting medical conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis, cancer, and depression have also benefited from daily or even weekly tai chi practice. Many research hospitals have brough tai chi class to the oncology units to help lower the inflammatory markers of the patients. This is due to the stress reducing benefits that tai chi has on the body.
Tai chi, once a few forms are taught, can help alleviate stress, improve mental health, posture, flexibility, and muscle strengthening. Patients with chronic pain have also benefitted from this art. Tai chi can easily be taught and performed in little space and has low impact on the joints with gentle movements. This allows low risk for any musculoskeletal injuries. Other reasons to choose tai chi, is it can be accomplished almost anywhere in just a few minutes and is non competitive in nature.
Tai chi rules are simply to allow breath to guide each movement like a slow flowing steady stream. One movement should become the next yet moving against a gentle force. Be conscious of weight transference of shifting feet, moving forward with gradual pivots of hips and joints. Lastly, enjoy! It is a way of harnessing energy for both mind and body. I look forward to seeing you! For an Eastern Medicine herbology and acupuncture consult, please call 772-353-1397.