Eight Guidelines To Help You Avoid Injury And Get You On The Right Path When Practicing Tai Chi

Tai chi is an excellent choice for beginners and for those who haven’t exercised in a long time. However, despite its reputation for being the supreme “gentle workout,” tai chi can cause injury if one doesn’t perform the correct approach. The following are some tips to help you avoid pain and injury and to help you optimize your new body-mind fitness workout.

1. You first need to be cleared by your healthcare provider or medical physician. If you’ve recently suffered an injury, had undergone surgery or physical therapy or are currently taking medication, talk to your physician about the movements you need to avoid or need to be extra cautious.

2. Consult with your tai chi instructor. See to it that your instructor has a solid background working with individuals with physical handicaps or challenges. While there may be really skilled instructors out there, there also are a lot of mediocre ones. Make sure that just because someone is Chinese or “pleasant,” doesn’t mean that person is the best one to help you learn tai chi.

3. Don’t overexert yourself when performing tai chi for the first time. Take your time to learn tai chi in safely by holding back a little in the beginning and then adding intensity later on. It’s much more difficult to start out with zeal and enthusiasm and then find out that you hurt yourself or overdid it the next day. You’ll then have to spend time to heal and cope with the vexation it causes.

4. Observe your structure. For individuals getting injured in tai chi, this is perhaps the biggest culprit. Your instructor should be a fusspot when it comes to your posture and structure due to the simple fact that the very essence of tai chi is built upon it. The top of your head should always be level with the ground, your ears in line with your shoulder and your head always straight with your ears. Instead of pulled back or hunched, your shoulders should be straight down and relaxed. Your pelvis needs to be tucked under lightly to take pressure off the wall of your stomach and to lessen the extra sway out of your low back. On any lunging stances, your knees should never buckle inward. Most importantly, make sure your instructor demonstrates these structural elements. How else can your teacher help you get better?

5. Allow your breath to be totally free and never hold it. When you learn or concentrate on difficult physical movements, you usually hold your breath a little bit. This can result in tension, headache, and dizziness. Make it a point to not hold your breath. Breathe out as if you’re sighing with a sense of relaxation and relief. Let it go.

6. Perform narrower and higher stances as best as possible. Observe how you feel the next day. If you feel okay, it means that you can go wider and a little deeper the next time. It’s okay to feel a little discomfort because this implies your body is changing – but pains and aches that are really bothering you are signs that you need to hold back a bit.

7. Never ever forget to take a pause from your routine if you need it. Listen to your body and never feel ashamed or embarrassed take time to relax when you really need it. If you’re in a traditional school, bow out respectfully and be polite in all your interactions in class. A good instructor tends to generate a learning atmosphere where the student is pushed and challenged, but he also knows when to tell a student to take a break if he or she really needs it. Always keep in mind that tai chi is not about self-harm but about self-development. “Protect yourself” is the first rule of tai chi.

8. Almost all masters of tai chi believe that with constant practice, a student will undergo major changes in his energy and body around three months. Some students who are sensitive to energy may undergo changes within a month. Consider your tai chi practice as like a garden wherein you regularly tend and care for it but without overdoing it. Cultivate it with the proper principles of tai chi. Do not attempt to hasten it or use force when you begin to see any indications of growth. Never give up and be patient. Only then will you reap the tremendous improvements in your body and mind wellness.

Tai chi is really all about “balance.” Never being challenged or doing too little will do nothing but impede your development. But more often than not, the issue that often plagues beginners in class is overdoing it and trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. Neither should you blame your instructor nor tai chi if you overdo it. More importantly, you should never blame yourself. Chalk it up to experience and understand that it’s a lesson that will make your wiser and all part of the learning process.

Apply ice to the area immediately if you feel pain after practice (a standard first aid procedure). If the pain persists, see a physician. Not all pain is bad, you know. In tai chi practice, pain might just indicate that your body is in a rebuilding process. However, you need to always treat your pain with respect. Don’t make it an excuse to quit, just ease up.

By always seeking a balanced approach when following these eight steps, you’ll start to realize the positive changes in your skills, body, and most of all, in your quality of life.

Jubal J Bewick, EAMP, MSAOM – Board Certified Acupuncturist and Herbalist in Walla Walla, WA

Tai Chi & Qi Gong For The Treatment Of Anxiety

At different times of the day, in almost every park in China, you will find people participating in Qi Gong or Tai chi activities. When they’re performed, these exercises appear like a slow motion dance with practitioners fixated on having perfect and forms of their body. However, these practices also provide benefits beyond the body. In Chinese studies, both Qi Gong and Tai chi have been shown to treat the symptoms of anxiety and boost wellbeing and health.

Anxiety and Tai Chi

An ancient form of exercise in East Asia, Tai chi is a widely used type of exercise for both the old and young. It involves focus on the breath and deep concentration as practitioners perform a number of rhythmic postures that help calm their mood and give them absolute control over their bodies. Oftentimes, it is performed for about 30 minutes to an hour. People who perform tai chi are in full control of their negative emotions related to anxiety, are more mentally alert, and feel stronger.

This exercise can be practiced anytime and at any place, as it needs no special equipment and little space. Each body motion seamlessly segues into the next motion so much that it imitates a choreographed dance.

A low impact type of aerobic exercise, tai chi soothes the mind, enhances physical balance, and fortifies the body. Because of its low impact nature, it is an ideal exercise for seniors. It does not need any equipment and anyone can perform it outdoors or indoors in a group setting or in the comfort of their home.

Some of the Benefits of Tai Chi Exercise are as Follows:

? Improved muscle flexibility
? Stronger immune system
? Improved balance and agility
? Better quality sleep
? Greater aerobic potential
? Boost in stamina and higher energy
? Relief of anxiety and stress
? Reduces the risk of falls in older people
? A healthier heart, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
? Greater health and well-being

Anxiety and Qi Gong

Qi Gong is widely practiced in China and also evolved in the Far East. It can be used to balance and harmonize the mind and body and boost the circulation of chi throughout the body. Qi gong works on the notion that instead of the brain, the heart is the wellspring of most of our anxieties. This exercise can help clear out blockages that have developed in the channels of chi to the heart which results in the treatment anxiety-related shortness of breath, palpitations, and chest pain.

When performing qi gong, the patient suffering from anxiety lies or sits down with his practitioner performing some of the qi gong exercises. The practitioner courses the flow of chi steering the flow towards the heart center. To preserve the balance in between sessions, the patient needs to perform repetitive motion exercises and breathing exercises. Similar to meditation, the practitioner tells the patient that it is good to always stay in the present time.

People who prefer to practice Qi Gong at home, are advised to visualize energy being directed at keeping the chi flowing and to focus on their breath. The constant practice of these exercises leads to the cure of anxiety and helps you to feel better about the other aspects of your life. The exercises can bring health benefits and inside the body and course the movement of chi to the heart, which alleviates anxiety.

People can learn Qi Gong from qualified or experienced practitioners in Vancouver, DVDs, or the internet. As one becomes better and better at performing these exercises by themselves, sooner or later they will have no need for a practitioner or instructor to help them balance their chi and alleviate their anxiety.