When we choose a program for exercise, what are we really signing up for? Tai Chi is a slow, gentle, powerful transformation for living!
Most of us sign up for exercise class to help us with getting active, building leg strength, finding some flexibility we may have lost, and to be more energized. We may have tried different sports, walking, hiking, running, yoga, pilates, etc. They may have kept our interest, but not supported all the needs of the body with its aches and complaints. What do you do if your favorite activity is causing you some pain, or you don’t have the strength or flexibility to continue with it?
At this point, you may be thinking about what Tai Chi looks like in the park in the summertime, and how the slow movements look so fluid. Something you always thought of trying, but never did. Why not? What might this ancient art have to offer you and your wellness plan?
On December 3rd, Wine Country Tai Chi Society offered a special workshop to explore what Tai Chi really offers those who sign up for a class – transformation. Michelle Greenwell, of Tai Chi Cape Breton, and a Ph.D. (final) in Complementary and Integrative Health, shared the true healing power of Tai Chi. She encouraged the participants to let go of the old paradigm that they needed exercise. They explored the stress that the idea of exercise brings into the body and where in the body it influences each person. She invited the group to explore the idea of transformation.
Transformation is the opportunity for ease and flow to spread through the body as the organ systems and the energy circuits open and balance. Once in this balanced stated, the systems can operate together in harmony, and they are supported by a constant and abundant energy flow.
The group explored how emotions can appear in overload when there are blocks in the system and the body is stressed. This can lead to feelings of anxiety or fear, or judgment, or anger and resentment without real provocation. Together the group explored how simple movement patterns can harmonize the emotions and release thoughts and ideas that have been through a stressed lens.
The group also explored the power of spiral movement, found throughout all the Tai Chi moves, and how it engages receptors in the body that feed the brain and enhance its function. Through the spiral moves the group felt the difference in whole body harmony, as opposed to isolated movements found in activities that keep the movements straight.
Figure eight patterns were a favorite by the group as they explored how this energetic pattern can harmonize the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Found throughout the Tai Chi movements, it was easy to see the layers of power within simple actions.
The group was able to realize some new ideas about their own body and their stress level, and how engaging in Tai Chi daily can release that tension, open up for ease with breathing, and to expand joints, lift the spine, and balance the pelvis and shoulders.
Here are a couple of quotes from participants:
Change your thinking, Change your Chi!
I am so excited about this journey and you sharing your wisdom further inspires me.
Have you been thinking about what to do for your wellness plan in 2023? Have you considered how Tai Chi might be able to enhance your daily energy, increase your strength, expand your flexibility, help you to breathe deeply throughout the day, introduce you to a whole new group of friends with the same wellness goals?
WCTCS is welcoming new students to their classes in January and February. A great place to start is with the Friday classes that raise your body awareness and help you identify where the stress is being held in the body. From there you can expand to other daytime and evening classes based on your schedule. Check out the full schedule in the class listings. You can get connection with the group by emailing email@example.com or calling Yvonne at 778-755-0987 to speak with an instructor. We look forward to seeing you expand your wellness toolbox and build a strong plan for health and well-being success in 2023!
One of our regular mindsets is to do an activity with the same vigor that we have always done it. The question is, do you have the same strength, flexibility, or skill as the last time that you did that activity?
Gardening, shovelling, small jobs, and repairs, and moving boxes and furniture are the usual suspects. For each season or activity, we assume we have the same skill or strength as the last time we did the task, but do we? How often have you been lifting boxes repeatedly and carrying them into different positions? How much time have you spent kneeling and pulling at objects for hours in a row? How many times have you reached into odd postures to paint, scrape, or hammer to repair something? How often have you wondered how that shoulder, back or knee has pain when you haven’t done anything? You forgot about the over-extension of activity or the simplicity of a movement that used a poor movement pattern to provide you with the means of completing a task.
As time passes each year, our level of activity changes, as does our flexibility and our strength. In order to support our well-being and support our body we need to train to move for the best possible range of motion and endurance with decreasing muscle mass in mind. This is where Tai Chi comes in.
Tai Chi is the study of movement to maximize strength and flexibility. To move easily and wisely with the least amount of strain and injury. How do we do that? Spiral action, support postural positions, support of the body through the feet, position of the hands.
Many people comment how beautiful it is to see people in the park doing Tai Chi together. What they don’t realize is that the muscle memory and the strength that is built during the daily practice of the Tai Chi movement patterns. These patterns provide the body with the tools needed to do daily chores and activities with ease and flow.
Injury Prevention begins with breathing. Deep breathing provides support to the muscles for oxygen and circulation to support the muscles and activity. Commencement is one of the first movements we learn and practice daily with Tai Chi. To learn more, check out our video series: Tai Chi Wellness and discover how “Commencement” can help you to prevent injury for your body doing regular or seasonal activities. Click here for the breathing video that uses the commencement movement.
Michelle Greenwell is a movement specialist and Tai Chi instructor for Tai Chi Cape Breton. Working with Doug and Yvonne Waines, also Tai Chi instructors for Wine Country Tai Chi in West Kelowna, BC, to create the Tai Chi Wellness series, they have supported your well-being with free resources to learn the superpower of Tai Chi. What are you waiting for? Take a look and change your daily self-care habits. Tell a friend and create an accountability buddy that helps you share more than a conversation over a cup of coffee or tea. Together you can help each other be empowered by movement for wellness.