When I first started practicing I Gong-and then tai chi I knew I was studying an ancient exercise form, one that didn’t include equipment as much instruction from a master. I don’t even know how long this individual had train to be thought of as a master.
Anyhow, let’s suffice to say I was ignorant of how powerful these physical disciplines are. When I first studied it I was also learning Pilates and had been weight training for years so it wasn’t clear how beneficial the Qi Gong and Tai Chi were. I knew it helped my balance and sense of space. My friend Ellen swore it helped her ankles become more flexible; which then transferred into hip flexibility. It seemed the beneficial effects were moving gradually throughout her body. Hoping to get the same beneficial effects, I decided to stick with it and eventually started noticing the benefits myself.
Over the years I have continued to practice a few days a week, but recently I started instructing a client who had Parkinson’s as well as some other physical issues. Her daughter noticed great results in her mother’s step within the first month. Not only did she appear to have better balance but her mood improved and she asked for me often to see when we could do it again!
I noticed my own balance improve as well as the strength in my legs. When I do my chores or massages I noticed I glide and feel more effective in my movement. Tai chi requires you to extend and spread, often through the knees and pushing through your feet. This reconnects the brain to the feet up through adjusting and realigning your muscles. The reason this is so helpful is it is the antithesis to the sitting we do! It also reminds your body to use the large muscles they way they were designed to be used!
In the studies done to find the benefits of tai chi, researchers found it to be helpful for healthy skin. When you understand the benefits to the lymphatic system it’s easier to understand how the lymph flow or lack thereof is evident in the skin texture. Because the movements involve reaching through ones limbs them lymphatic system is stimulated.
I am fortunate to be able to feel and see firsthand what exercise can do for myself and others. Each form of exercise brings it’s own unique set of benefits. I try to incorporate all different styles of movement and exercise in my practice. The side effect for me is that I exercise along with my clients, and it helps me while I help them. Now, that is what one could call a win win…