Friday, 22 October 2021

Focus on... growing old gracefully with Tai Chi

OLD age is generally associated with physical and mental deterioration and the loss of mobility, independence

OLD age is generally associated with physical and mental deterioration and the loss of mobility, independence and confidence.

Increasingly research is providing evidence that tai chi exercise can slow down and counter these tendencies.

Compared with people who practised other forms of exercise, tai chi practitioners were shown to have fewer falls, longer strides and better balance.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends tai chi for people with arthritis — many of whom cannot tolerate the jarring effects of other types of exercise.

In another study, those who practised tai chi regularly were shown to have less of a decline in lung function than those who were more sedentary (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society). Tai chi exercise has also been shown to reduce anxiety and to help with depression.

Tai chi exercises and principles are easy to learn and practise. Chinese medical philosophy historically takes the stance that people should be responsible for their own health. A person should be concerned with effective self-maintenance and self-healing techniques.

This concept is one of the cornerstones of the classic text, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, which states: “Health and wellbeing can be achieved only by remaining centred in spirit, guarding against the squandering of energy, promoting the constant flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood, and nourishing one’s self preventively. This is the way to a long and happy life.”

Or, more simply, to quote the great physician Hua Tuo, of the second century AD: “The door hinge will rust if it is not used.”

Unlike other forms of exercise tai chi requires students to practise in the most unhurried, gentle and relaxed way possible in order to gain maximum benefits. The unhurried and effortless movements are practiced with calm concentration, making practice extremely pleasurable. In fact, if the exercise is not comfortable and enjoyable, the practitioner is probably doing something wrong.

Why not join the millions of people around the world enjoying the benefits of tai chi? In partnership with Oxfordshire Adult Learning, the Three Treasures School of Tai Chi is running a class in Henley specifically for the over-50s.

Classes begin on September 15, and will run every Thursday from 11.15am to 12.45pm for 12 weeks at the YMCA hall in Lawson Road.

Visit the school’s website at www. or call tutor Alan Baker on (01491) 200471 for more information.

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