- Exercise & Fitness
Why Choose Tai Chi?
Modernity and Our Bodies
The contemporary world is fast paced, but even so we sit around a good deal, don't we? We sit on sofas, office chairs or in our cars. And while advanced technology makes our lives more comfortable, we are slowly as a culture losing the regular muscle tone that would derive from day-after-day labor. These days some of us clearly do not get enough exercise
At present people experience an extensive range of health problems including circulatory, headaches, high blood pressure and chronic back and neck pain, and nearly all are as a result of life-style. Doing jobs which require us to more often than not be sitting down definitely comes with draw backs. Even though we spend more time sitting around we still feel tired and stressed out. And despite knowing that exercise improves energy levels and makes us happier and healthier, some of us can’t even begin to think of gyms. We feel we are not fit enough or feel uncomfortable in a room full of perfect bodies or we simply find the gym boring (running in one spot and never getting anywhere).
A couple of years ago, faced with some of the issues described, I thought about what I could do that would keep me active and healthy. I had enjoyed martial arts in the past, but wanted to do something more holistic; I signed up for a Tai Chi class. Unlike different exercise classes you may find at your gym, you do not have to be in great shape to begin to practice Tai Chi. You can be any age any shape and of any fitness level.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is moderate cardiovascular exercise and can be preformed by anybody. It re-trains the body to move according to its innate structure. In addition it aids the immune system by regulating it, and is hugely beneficial to posture, aligning the spine and reducing degeneration.
The long term effect of regular practice of Tai Chi develops reduced tension, increased strength and stamina, and flexibility. Once proper circulation is restored, the body begins to heal itself, restoring proper function of the muscles, ligaments, and even organs. Eventually, changes are noticeable in the entire physiology of the body.
Why I Chose Tai Chi
I have been practicing Tai Chi for almost two years and am a confirmed fan. I will be practicing Tai Chi when I am 90 years old and beyond! Being a martial art, a healing system and a form of meditation, for me it ticked all the right boxes. I knew I had stumbled upon something special in my first class of Tai Chi, during which I learned a lot about my posture. I found that while standing felt upright to me, in reality I was leaning back and by doing so putting un-necessary strain on many joints and muscles in my body. Furthermore, once I attempted to position myself properly with proper instruction from my teacher I experienced a difficulty in maintaining this new way of standing and felt as if I was leaning forward!
I have always had troubles with my knees and no doctor could ever explain the reason why. Through Tai Chi and the help of my instructor I learned that in fact there really isn’t anything wrong with my knees. The problem is generated by my poor posture, which was making some muscles over compensate for the lack of others and was putting excessive strain on my knee joints.
Well Being and Body Awareness
Since I began to practice Tai Chi, I have definitely noticed an overall improvement. The muscles around my knees are getting stronger and I am experiencing less pain. My posture is improving continually. Furthermore in the past I suffered from neck pain on a day to day basis- this has also significantly subsided.
In addition I am experiencing greater body awareness. In fact I can now feel parts of my body that I could not feel before. For example, prior to my Tai Chi practice I was unable to feel my hips. As the hips are central to Tai Chi practice, to begin with there were some movements I understood, but simply could not make my body do. After a while I realised, that my hips were really tight. No wonder I could not turn into the hip...I had been using my rotating hip joint some what like a knee joint, and it was very, very stiff. Once I realised this my hips began to come to life. Now I can feel them loosening up as if waking up from a deep sleep.
Tai Chi as Discovery
In many ways Tai Chi is about discovery. Each time I begin the healing process with one aspect of my body, I notice another. It is a way of feeling the body both as separate parts and collectively. It teaches to understand the interaction of the many parts as a collective. In addition this inner discovery extends to other aspects of life. While learning how to make the body comfortable, strong and healthy other lessons become apparent.
Applying the Tai Chi principles of letting go, relaxing and becoming more self-aware to daily life has transformed my out look and the way in which I experience life generally. My mind is calmer and I am able to maintain a clearer intention when faced with difficulties. Making discoveries in the body has also made me more curious generally. I would recommend Tai Chi to anyone. Whether you are looking for exercise, healing, martial arts or meditation, Tai Chi can provide you with a journey of exploration.