We welcome this informative article from our good friend and Tai Chi Instructor, Bernie Stankay. Bernie nicely encapsulates the health and wellness benefits of practicing Tai Chi, and demonstrates how this gentle form of exercise can help ease and perhaps prevent the many ills of aging.
If you enjoy Bernie’s article, why not join him for one FREE Tai Chi class on Sunday, September 22 at 11 am (during our Wellness Open House) as we kick off the fall 2013 Serenity Sundays program! It is an ideal exercise for all ages. Visit our Website for details and to register: www.pghpsychotherapy.com
In Good Health,
Tai Chi – Big Gains, No Pain
By Bernard Stankay
Consider this, Tai Chi is not well known as is the case with Yoga or other Eastern arts. It has been referred to as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” While I’ve read accounts that many do it, I’ve never seen it promoted by athletes or celebrities…anywhere. Furthermore, if it is “known” to any degree, it is far more often not known for what it actually is. I would render to guess that for most of those who know anything about it, they only think it is something that old Chinese people do in a park halfway around the world. Looks quaint…so what?
In this low-impact, gentle exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions. As you progress, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention on your bodily sensations. Tai Chi differs from other types of exercises because the movements are circular and never forced, muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, and the joints are not fully extended. Tai Chi can be easily modified for anyone, from the healthiest and robust of people to those confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.
Yet, far beyond what I can describe here, its benefits are extensive and truly profound being everything from a healthy exercise to a meditation, a philosophy, a medicine, a dance, a martial art, and a sword form. Tai Chi was instrumental in fostering China through its cultural revolution by being an integral part of its healthcare system (still mandatory in colleges) and is in fact a national treasure of China. Without exaggeration, 200 million people in China practice this daily (noting there are only 300 million people in the United States). Now even Harvard Medical School says they are right!
The Harvard study is a critical milestone for Tai Chi in this country insofar as it truly, perhaps for the first time, validates it from a Western medical perspective. It’s not that it should have needed this validation, but it did need it…in this country. That is HUGE for the art! And that was just released in April 2013. It’s not that research hasn’t been out for years, it just hasn’t been publicized much and never dramatically endorsed in such a way. The foremost medical school in the country is applying Tai Chi itself and in its affiliates, endorsing it, validating it, and promoting it. A Western medical endorsement of this magnitude has never happened before for Tai Chi in this country.
With all the benefits associated with Tai Chi, why not give a try? Join me for one FREE class in September (click here for details) and experience firsthand the benefits of this ancient, but very practical and helpful form of mediation.
Stay well my friends,
Ps, if you need further proof of the health benefits of Tai Chi, read how it is improving balance and postural stability in patients with Parkinson’s Disease from the New England Journal of Medicine.