mobility

Tai Chi master

I have recently taken to putting on the website articles which are not carefully crafted – rather they are what may be regarded as thought pieces – something quite traditional as one might recognise from the way the “Tai Chi Classics” were put together for example.

Once thinking about a topic after a while quite suddenly the thoughts just tumble out and it is all I can do to get them on paper – I simply don’t have the time these days to carefully craft them into well structured articles or to fill out the background on everything. So I must leave it to my readers to explore further. I expect that from time to time I will revisit and expand on points.

One that comes to mind is the reference to a difference between preventative and remedial Tai Chi when considering the health of older people. We can think that while a person has the ability to do normal Tai Chi exercises then this may be regarded as preventative of falls or other health issues – on the other hand once a person has reached a point where they can no longer do something like walk the length of a hall or stand for half an hour exercising then they are in need of remedial work. Preventative Tai Chi is simply exercising normally – but in the case of older people perhaps not so vigorously as we once did and can easily be accommodated in a normal beginners level class – this is why I often refer to them as “over 50s classes since  at that age people still have a good 10 years to learn and develop their skill  before they reach a point at which they would otherwise become vulnerable to falls. Start at 50 and one can hope to improve one’s proprioception, body mapping and Tai Chi skill to a point that staves off problems of falling.

On the other hand I sometimes see people with walking frames or in wheel chairs – or get phone calls from relatives who’s father/mother has just been diagnosed/admitted to a care home and  have seen that Tai Chi is good for their condition – and would I please go to the care home every day to teach their parent. Sadly it is expected that they have probably reached a point where more work is needed than either I or they can put in. It is possible they could do the work but unlikely if they do not already have the discipline, habit and skill  of doing it already. This is what I mean by remedial. In these case I suspect that some daily Tai Chi informed exercises and physiotherapy would be as helpful as anything else and would encourage physios and carers to learn enough to pass on simple exercises.

Recent examples of this sort of article include Thoughts on Tai Chi Movement and Martial Arts as a Philosophy also Managing getting Old with Tai Chi

Ian and Judy Celebrating Spirals in Tai Chi and Alexander Technique

On 12-14 May 2017 at the Belsey Bridge Conference Centre, Suffolk we will be holding our first  Alternative Health Exercises Residential Weekend – of gentle movement and body awareness exercises in a environment of light humour and relaxation.

The weekend program will be based on our popular seminar series of exercises  developed  from Tai Chi &  Alexander Technique with  elements of dance incorporated  into two days of mindfulness exercises  and meditation ‐ developing a practical  way of being.

Widely experienced Alexander teacher  Judy Hammond and long‐term Tai Chi  instructor Ian Deavin have created this  program of physical and mental  exercises suitable for both complete  beginners seeking a retreat weekend,  or for more experienced exercisers  looking to “workshop” their mind and  body development.

Belsey Bridge Conference Centre offers  a delightful mix of space, quietness and excellent hospitality  ‐ the  package includes tuition with full board plus morning and  afternoon tea.

  • an introduction to Tai Chi and  Alexander Technique
  • Relaxing and strengthening  movement
  • Individual, partner and group  work
  • Meditation, visualisations

To book your place contact here

Tai Chi and Alternative Health Exercises

Well there are many factors and to begin, as I understand it, during aging cellular replication slows down around 50 or so, that is the number of stem cells in our body start to run down. The 115 year old woman who died a while ago was found to have only two types of stem cell left in her bloodstream – greatly down on a younger person.

Then the cells that do not replicate do not die, they enter a lower energy state of senescence where they are not so efficient or effective at converting the energy of blood sugar work. Consequently we become weaker cell by cell, muscle fibre by fibre. The same of course happens with our internal organs which consequently become likewise as capable!

Now perhaps many things including Tai Chi, exercise in general, good diet, a low stress lifestyle etc. can prolong that period of decline extending the onset of senescence some years, but ultimately, unless we die by trauma, then we all die the same way, by gradual aging.

The difference is that Tai Chi offers a way of developing skill in body usage – Tai Chi people age and die like everybody else – they have simply learned how to deal with it better than most. They learn how to manage their body and if you have not learned Tai Chi by age 50 then this is when you probably still have enough energy left to learn.

The connected movement of Tai Chi allows the whole body to act together, supporting and enhancing the weaker parts. Like a convoy protecting and supporting the slower weaker ship. We need to get the whole convoy home – the whole body – with as little damage or loss as possible.

So, like a team who organise themselves so that the strong support the weak and the quick cover for the slow, the clever for the not so clever – of which each individual will exhibit a range of attributes that need to be meshed together so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and ensuring that the weakest link does not fail.

As they grow old Tai Chi people learn to do this with their bodies, minds and emotions so that by developing relaxed integrated movement, the body organs and consequently the cells of which they are comprised are less stressed and for any action the whole body is brought to bear – thus compensating for developing weakness.

Check out our classes here

tai-chi-and-alexander-seminars-2016

Considerations on Tai Chi in the role of Falls Prevention – a whitepaper

26 November 2015
Thumbnail image for Considerations on Tai Chi in the role of Falls Prevention – a whitepaper

Experience has shown that Tai Chi is an effective practice for addressing the problems of falls in the elderly and others vulnerable to falls, leading to a reduction in risk in the order of 40% to 50%. However while Tai Chi practice of itself can work well it is not necessarily suited to everyone. There […]

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Tai Chi and other Martial Arts come full circle

21 January 2015

Having for centuries borrowed from everywhere else in developing martial arts, those same ideas and practices are being fed back into the mainstream of society, for example by use of Tai Chi as a source of meditation practice, by use of partner work in developing co-operative approaches, using mindful physical practices to improve balance and […]

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Improved physical and mental health – from Tai Chi practice

6 November 2014

My friends and colleagues at The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living have put together an excellent review of medical reports on the statistically significant effects reported in medical studies attributed to the practice of Tai Chi. These include: “Better physical and mental health statuses, lower blood pressure, less mood disturbance, more positive mood states”, “Breast […]

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Tai Chi for a Good Back

17 October 2014

I thought I might pass on some personal thoughts on how Tai Chi fits into the mix of approaches to “bad back” syndrome arising from deterioration of posture and poor habits of body use. Tai Chi emphasises keeping a relaxed straight back leading to a vertical posture carried with poise. Tai Chi achieves this by […]

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The role of visualisation in movement – Eric Franklin

18 October 2012

I have been reading a brilliant book on the use of internal visualisation in movement – Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery by Eric Franklin – this was recommended by my teacher Karel Koskuba and it has much in common with the visualisation I have come across in Tai Chi – also sharing a similar rational regarding […]

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Planning a Falls Prevention program

21 October 2011

I’ve done quite a bit of work recently teaching Tai Chi as a falls prevention program, with some brilliant feedback – but it has got me thinking a lot about the wider aspects of the subject and led me to produce a whitepaper on the considerations of setting up a Tai Chi based falls prevention […]

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