Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tai Chi Chih®

I had my first experience with T'ai Chi Chih® this week. My husband suggested we sign up for an introductory class through our local community education program. Honestly, I had no preconceived notions going into the class because I didn't know anything about it. I like spending time with my hubby sans kids, and this class seemed like a golden opportunity, especially since it was HIS idea.

Before class, I went for a four and half mile run. I tried a new route sticking to city streets and avoiding sidewalks and walking paths due to snow and ice coverage. After my run, I removed all my torso layers since they were drenched in sweat. If I delay changing after a winter run I get chilled. I felt a little stiff in my lower back and right hip from my run. In the back of my head, I was thinking that maybe it wasn't such a great idea to run before going to T'ai Chi Chih®.

It was a small class of seven including my husband and I. A woman in her mid-sixties is the accredited instructor. She spoke about her personal battle with rheumatoid arthritis. A doctor warned her that due to the severity of her disease she would eventually end up in a wheelchair. She testified that T'ai Chi Chih® postponed "the inevitable" and maybe even saved her from it. Time will tell.

My husband was a bit disappointed because it wasn't the form of T'ai Chi he wanted to learn. He explained that this version was developed in the 1970's. T'ai Chi Chih® is more of the hippie version of T'ai Chi that's often used in hospitals and with the elderly. The instructor did address this. She studied T'ai Chi Qi Gong for many years and moved to Tai Chi Chih® because it was more accessible and easier to master.

This was all thoroughly confusing so I did some Googling only to discover T'ai Chi has numerous forms and styles. Two examples are T'ai Chi Ch'uan, originally a fighting system designed to maim and kill, and  T'ai Chi Qi Gong, derived from traditional Chinese medicine theories focusing on healing and longevity. All variations differ in terms of performance speed and pace also in the method of posing.

T'ai Chi is believed to delay aging, prolong life, increase flexibility and strengthen muscles and tendons. It can improve heart function, blood pressure, arthritis, depression and other illnesses. T'ai Chi is the proverbial silver bullet!

T'ai Chi Chih®, the form I'm studying, consists of nineteen movements and one pose. It's a soft, flowing, moving mediation that circulates and balances essential energy. According to its founder Justin Stone, "Nothing is more important than knowing how to circulate and balance the Intrinsic Energy, the Vital Force of the body, known as Chi in Chinese. The rewards in good health, wisdom, serenity, and longevity are great for the one who learns the ancient principles and applies them in a modern way."

That sounds pretty good to me, Mr. Stone. I guess I'm willing to give T'ai Chi the good old college try even if I'm only dabbling in the Westernized version for now. Oh, and no lie... my lower back and hip felt better after class. There just might be something to this. Now, if I can only commit to memory all nineteen movements.

No comments:

Post a Comment