Article: Tai chi not just for “old”

“Tai chi is not just for old people,” says columnist Viki Mather. I know what she’s talking about. People hate anything that resembles “exercise.” Not my problem. They are so WRONG.

“There is a stigma about tai chi that it is for old people. And it is true that doing tai chi can help regain mobility, balance, prevent falls and all the other things that seniors need to stay independent and active. It does this for younger people, too. It can help you play better golf. It can improve posture, which is important for skiing, skating, horseback riding, and having dinner at Grandma’s house. And it reduces stress.”


ARTICLES: More research results on Tai Chi helping with health challenges

These two news articles refer to new research results talking about tai chi improving the lives of peripheral neuropathy patients and reducing stroke risks. I continue to hold tai chi and qigong classes in Durango for learners with a variety of challenges, as does my teacher and friend Susan Matthews in Cortez (she’s the anatomy, stroke and Parkingson’s expert). So please tell your friends about this news and help them help themselves by suggesting they try tai chi classes.

UT Tyler improves lives of peripheral neuropathy patients through Tai Chi

Tai Chi may reduce stroke risk

Session P16 – Poster WP416

American Heart Association

Tai chi and digital living: a yin-yang recipe

“As attention spans shrink,” says the digital design and marketing text I just read. It’s referring to the amount of time a mobile-device user spends on a site, which depends upon design, content, authenticity, simplicity, speed, and value. I suppose attention and time have always been entwined, but it seems that in these “times,” time lords over attention more than ever.

“…success comes from giving your audience what they want, and the experience of consuming your content is a huge part of that. We found, for example, when content is too long or load times are slow, consumers look elsewhere,…”

What does this have to do with tai chi? Well, if I gave today’s “audience” what it wants, they may never learn tai chi. Brief attention spans make tai chi more difficult to learn. Both tai chi and qigong are all about attention, and if you don’t give them proper attention you probably won’t incorporate the benefits very well into your life. Giving tai chi attention means giving it time, but not just that.

It may be that we lose sight of the fact that our perception of time constrains attention, which stresses us out. We also don’t catch this happening before it produces negative health effects. Ironically, tai chi is exactly what digital lives need to offset the pressure that we put ourselves under to live in these digital times. Nothing can be more yin-yang than the relationship between technology in our lives and tai chi/qigong.

I believe this relationship is what many of us seek to know and learn about, particularly in response to stress. It’s like we feel something is missing in our human form and it nags us until we look into what it may be.

I also believe that an equal and opposite response to living at the speed of digital time and its demands comes in the form of a natural human desire for quietude and tranquility.  Slowing down and paying attention to what you’re doing in the moment is natural. Just the thing you can get from doing tai chi.

The numbers of millennials seeking authentic mind-body experiences in a virtual world are growing. For example, one of the most consistently read posts on this blog is the one entitled, “What Do Young People Think of Tai Chi?”

It’s “well documented”, according to report from the American Psychology Association’s 2012  Stress In America Study, that millennials currently are living: “more stressed, anxious and depressed than any other living generation.” Since I began training in 1999 I’ve seen the age at which people become interested in tai chi drop. It used to be mid-40s when the body has been undeniably showing evidence of breaking down for a few years. Increasingly, millennials are contacting me about learning.

Young people, as well as people of all ages, indeed are discovering the appeal of tai chi and qigong. Tai chi is more prevalent in society, more is being written about it, more classes are offered all over, and young people are searching for activities that define their lifestyles.

Our health is another huge issue that influences the kind of lives we’re able to live. Many “noncommunicable” diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, are traced back to how we treat our bodies in our younger years. In my experience, it seems we’re getting symptoms of old age while we’re rather young. Posture is where this is evident, but that’s another discussion.

“Because many adult and older-age health problems were rooted in early life experiences and living conditions, ensuring good child health can yield benefits for older people,” according to a National Institute on Aging article.

I can attest to the fact that you’re never too young to start learning tai chi and qigong. I began practice at age 46. However, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t wait too long. With the cost of healthcare rising outrageously (in the U.S. anyway), it makes so much sense to seek out preventive, health promoting activities—even looking into old fogy stuff like tai chi.

Want to learn more about millennial stress

From APA 2015 report summary: “Younger adults continue to report higher stress, with money and work as the top stressors. On average, Millennials and Gen Xers report higher levels of stress than Boomers and Matures (6.0, 5.8, 4.3 and 3.5 on a 10-point scale, respectively) and have done so since 2012.”

Google “stress in America” to see what you get. I got 1, 360, 000 hits.

The article, “Millennial Mindset: The Worried Well” summarizes a key findings on how important health is to millennials and boomers. Interesting, but brief for the time and attention-challenged among us.

Paul Tim Richard studies and writes about Chinese internal martial arts and produces instructional videos of master practitioners. As instructor at Durango Tai Chi, he teaches fundamental principles of taijiquan and qigong. He lives in Durango, Colorado and likes to travel to study and teach.

Expose yourself to taiji early in life

200069253-001I began doing yoga at the age of 36, Shotokan karate at 44, and tai chi at 46. I wish I had been exposed to tai chi sooner in life. I wish the same for everyone else. I was always active in my work, physical labor, for most of my life, but during my mid-thirties I had become disillusioned with seasonal work and hourly wage jobs. I was beat up physically with injuries from accidents and the usual misuse/abuse of my body common to this society. Early on, the career I thought I was working towards failed, so I drifted around for years looking for I don’t know what.

One day, I enlisted in college courses, got a four-year degree, got an office job, got a master’s degree, kept working in the office. My health waned and waned some more. Yoga helped to some degree, but I wasn’t practicing it enough. But I was so busy anyway. Sound familiar? I hear that from people about tai chi often. We have to make choices from among competing interests for our time. So healthy activities that slow the aging process lose out.

Then one day a physical therapist told me she couldn’t help me anymore with a pulled “groin muscle” that I had injured in karate. “Do tai chi,” she said curtly. Strangely, a co-worker was actually practicing tai chi with the only teacher in town. So I went with him to class one evening. Long story short. I’m still practicing tai chi 15 years later. I’ve been to Shanghai China to train three times. I’ve been to training camps many times and have hosted many training camps in my town. I go to the doctor once a year for the annual check up instead of many times a year for one debilitating problem after another. I’m healthy for my age of 61. But there is a long way to go, meaning the rest of my life. Some people are lucky that way.

But nowadays we’re entering a new phase in the history of tai chi. Young people, millennials, are discovering it’s something that could work for them to prevent many of the health problems us old guys are experiencing as a result of injuries, habits, and aging processes that took root when we were in our twenties and thirties. Three millennials have contacted me during the past year or so to learn tai chi and that gives me hope for the future of tai chi and for the health of the younger generation. Also, parents of kids under 12 have contacted me to start their kids on tai chi. This is very unusual. Furthermore, more and more discussion can be found on the subject of young people learning tai chi and integrating it into their lifestyles. This is very heartening to see.