The ancient practice of Tai Chi is growing in popularity. More and more I see Tai Chi classes offered at gyms, park departments and even yoga studios! Why is that? The fact is study after study has shown that a consistent Tai Chi practice makes us healthier, stronger and more well-balanced (physically and mentally). Doctors recommend it to their patients and people who do try it are often surprised how enjoyable and beneficial it can be.
But, there are several misconceptions about Tai Chi that may prevent people from trying.
1. Tai Chi is slow and tedious to perform. Yes, it is slow; but maybe that high blood pressure, anxiety or sleeplessness you have is trying to tell you that slowing down might be a good thing. We Baby Boomers are known for our drive, ambition and accomplishments. But we are also known for our Type A personalities, which is not such a good thing in the long run. As we get older, slowing the pace might just be a key to living a longer, happier life.
2. It is hard to remember the sequence of the moves. The good news about Tai Chi is when we learn something new we are exercising the brain and the body. We create new neural pathways in the brain. Yes, the 17-move sequence in the Beginning Tai Chi class includes some movements that are outside our everyday patterns – but this makes the brain work harder as you learn the movements and the sequence. It is worth a little frustration to maintain and improve our brain health.
3. A harder workout like aerobics or weight training would be better. This is the one that gets in the way more than any other misconception. But consider this: lifting weights slowly is more difficult than lifting weights quickly. Slow, deliberate weight training works muscles harder over a longer period of time and is more effective. In Tai Chi we use our body weight against gravity to challenge the muscles of the legs, hips, core and upper body in continuous movement for nearly an hour.
The deep diaphragmatic breathing in Tai Chi oxygenates our cells, releases toxins through exhalation and pulses the lymphatic system. This purifies the entire body and brings a feeling of calm and well-being to the mind.
Aerobics and weight training can be beneficial for sure. But many people simply cannot work out at the level of performance they once could. Tai Chi is an alternative that brings many other benefits as well.
So, come, give it a try. You may be very surprised how good you feel.
Location: HOA 1 Fitness Center; $10 per class
Beginning class: Sundays, 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Intermediate: Saturdays, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Advanced: Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
For more information on Tai Chi or to register for class, please contact Carol or Ken Emerson at 825-9206.