Exercising Outside is Inspirational! Try one of the morning beach classes.
Some frequently ask questions about Tai Chi and Qigong.
What is Tai Chi? Tai Chi is a martial art developed to help protect the passive monks of China from the road bandits of those days. Many of the movements were developed from watching animals in nature. Notice how a cat stalks it’s prey. How a crane spreads it’s wings. The various forms are based on Kung-fu movements, creating a slow moving self-defense system for your physical body. The meditative principles are based on nature and the balance of all living things. Some believe it is a natural way of life.
What should I wear? Some like to practice barefoot, others prefer more supportive shoes, but the shoes should be flat-soled comfortable and flexible. Choose loose, comfortable clothes that allow for freedom of movement. We do offer Tai Chi by the Sea T-shirts and are most appreciative of the support you show by wearing them. Do I need special equipment? An open mind and willingness to slow down is all that is needed. The beauty of Tai Chi, is it can be practiced anywhere, at anytime without any special equipment.
What can I do to help remember these exercises? Try to practice the movements you remember by yourself. Repeating the exercises will reinforce them, not only in your mind but also in your body’s muscles. There are handouts available that cover most of the class material. You may also purchase the booklet on the Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong, Dr. Paul Lam’s Arthritis videos and the Companion Workout (DVDs) are available. The workout videos are designed to help beginners learn the movements by following a complete workout.
About Tai Chi and Exercise 1. Flexibility Exercises These exercises reduce stiffness and help keep joints flexible. The range of motion is the normal amount joints can be moved in certain directions. Stiffness causes pain; therefore, increased flexibility will help in relieving this pain. Tai Chi involves gentle moving of all joints, muscles and tendons throughout the body. Many scientific studies have shown Tai Chi significantly increases flexibility. 2. Muscle Strengthening Exercises These exercises help maintain or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help keep the joints stable, therefore, protecting the joints. This will minimize future injury, and reduce pain. Improved muscle strength enables one to do more which in turn improves the circulation of blood and body fluids. Two common strengthening exercises are isometric and isotonic exercises. In isometric exercises the muscles are tightened but the joints do not move, while in isotonic exercises the muscles are strengthened by moving joints. Tai chi contains both isometric and isotonic elements. Studies have proven Tai Chi to be effective in strengthening muscles by 15 to 20%. 3. Fitness Exercises Fitness or cardio-respiratory exercises help strengthen the heart and lungs and increases stamina, which is important for maintaining health. Joints and tissues need a good supply of blood and oxygen for healing. Better circulation of blood, fluid and oxygen also helps to keep joints flexible and muscles strong. Tai Chi is a particularly effective fitness exercise. Studies also measured various parameters of cardio-respiratory fitness and have found significant improvement. 4. Posture Exercise Many doctors and therapists believe there is a fourth type of important exercise: correct body posture and body spatial awareness. When the posture is correct, there will be less inappropriate wear of the joints and muscles. When your posture is upright, the lung space is larger. The body works better in an upright posture. A stooped body and drooping shoulders is often associated with sadness, fear and negative emotions. Try to assume such a posture and you will most likely start having negative feelings. Whereas, in an upright, powerful but supple posture you will find it difficult to be depressed and negative. Right posture leads to positive feelings or a positive mental state that in turn improves the physical body. Many people with arthritis or illnesses are stressed and depressed. Studies have shown Tai Chi is effective in relieving stress. 5. Desirable Exercise The power of the mind can help the healing of the body. The immense power of the mind has not been fully estimated. Medical studies have found that Tai Chi improves many facets of the mental state for people facing challenging health problems. Many people involved in Tai chi study groups commented that they enjoy practicing Tai Chi and wish to continue after the study ended. Some of the information on this page was taken from Dr. Paul Lam’s article, “How Does Tai Chi Improve Health and Arthritis?” Students may progress at different rates and are encouraged to practice on their own. Making Tai Chi a part of your daily routine is very beneficial.
A Complete Workout Session Warmups~A basic series of slow moving stretches. Starting at the top with the head and working down to the ankles. This increases the blood circulation, preparing all of the muscles for the workout session. Basic Tai Chi movements~The warmups continue by learning basic Tai Chi form movements. Repeating these movements helps relax the body and teaches the muscles the foundations of Tai Chi’s forms. These movements are then used in the walking exercises and later put together to create the Tai Chi forms. Walking Balance Awareness~Tai Chi exercises develop ones awareness and increases balance and stability. Daily practice of these simple walking exercises may improve balance and help prevent injuries from falls. Learning how to coordinate the movement of hands, feet, body weight, and mind are some of the rewards of continued practice. Qigong-Breathing Chi~Discover the difference breathing from the “belly” (tan tien) can make. Simple meditative breathing exercises help calm the mind, increases awareness, and improves the circulation of good chi “energy.” This chi is used to open blockages in the body’s channels, meridians, and pressure points used in acupuncture. Qigong will help you open your own body to the healing energy and maintain a healthy chi flow. Tai Chi Form~The basic movements of the Tai Chi form are linked together to create a continuous moving meditative exercise. Proper practice of the postures and breathing with the form movements are covered. Closing Meditation~The class ends with exercises to wind down the workout. This allows the body to cool down in the same slow controlled manner the class started with. Meditating on the breath and body.