Healthy Aging with Tai Chi: Gentle Movement Good for All Bodies
Oct 03, 2018 05:41PM
● By Linda Dohanos
Tai chi, known as a soft style of martial arts, is one of the foundational practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is also a relaxing, gentle form of exercise. When practiced regularly, tai chi can have many health benefits including improvement of joint health.
The phrase tai chi translates as Supreme, absolute, immense, or ultimate balance and harmony. With that in mind, all the movements in a tai chi form are done in a focused, slow way, accompanied by the introspective relaxation of deep breathing. Each posture in the series flows one to the other, without pause, so the body is continuously in slow motion. By learning how to move the energy, known as chi, a person can make this subtle energy flow for maximum health.
Tai chi can help reduce stress, strengthen the body gently, aid in development of better gait and balance, and improve the immune system. It helps the joints and ligaments. Studies have shown it can help lower blood pressure and even prevent shingles. Better quality of sleep, improved joint pain, a reduction in falls, and an enhanced sense of well-being are some of the other benefits of tai chi.
Since it involves low-impact movements that put minimal stress on muscles and joints, tai chi is considered safe for practitioners of all ages. Another benefit is that tai chi can be done anywhere and anytime. It can be practiced in a group setting or done as an individual practice; it can be done outdoors or inside. Tai chi instruction videos are available on demand online or by DVD purchase. However, an in-person class will provide the
opportunity for personalized instruction from a tai chi teacher that best fits our needs and limitations.
In Chinese philosophy, the mind resides in the heart, not the brain. When we connect the heart and brain to work together, they will have the ability to adapt efficiently to stress and effects of daily living. The heart rhythm of individuals as they age typically gets weaker and jagged with time. By using tai chi and chi gong breathing techniques and slow subtle movements, the heart rhythm is regulated, and therefore enhances longevity.
The heart feels our emotions. This means we can be more effective with processing information, with trusting our intuition. When we harmonize the channel between the heart and mind, healing can happen very rapidly.
Linda Dohanos is principal of Mindful Heart Tai Chi; she is a Fairfield County-based tai chi teacher and healer. Connect at [email protected]. See ad, page 9.