I had my first experience with Tai Chi as a sample class at the Omega Institute. The movements are very slow and steady and required a lot of concentration but one of my biggest take-away from the class was when we were practicing a move called “Rotate the Universe.” You hold your hands in a position that suggests you are holding a mid-sized ball and rotate the ball to the right, up, to the left, down and back to the right. This movement was continued as the teacher talked us through it. Then he said, “If you are rotating the universe, that means that you can decide to go in the other directions. Just like if you don’t like a direction your life is going it, then change it!” That was very powerful to me. This experience made me curious about Tai Chi and what it is and left me wanting more.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition. It was originally meant as a way of teaching self-defense but is now used as a form of stress-reducing exercise. Tai Chi is a series of movements done in a slow, focused manner while accompanied by deep breathing. It is low impact and, because it puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, it is considered safe for all ages and fitness levels. The is no special equipment required and Tai Chi may be done anywhere. You may see people doing slow, focused movements in parks or playgrounds and be wondering what they are doing. It is often described as “meditation in movement” and is excellent for the population that think just sitting is a waste of time.
There are a multitude of benefits from practicing Tai Chi. Many people find a reduction in stress and anxiety. There may be an increase in your flexibility and balance – both physically and mentally. It can also lead to improved mood, as well as improved muscle strength and definition. Practicing Tai Chi may also enhance the quality of your sleep, enhance your immune system, lower blood pressure and improve joint pain.
One of the things that really struck me as I practiced Tai Chi for the first time was the range of ages around the room. There were people in their 20’s and one gentleman that claimed to be in his 80’s. This is truly a form of exercise that may be practiced by anyone no matter their age or ability.
We are proud to be offering Tai Chi and Just Breathe, led by Ron Allen on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.