By Rosie Moore

Tai Chi means Supreme Ultimate in the Chinese language. I thought I would be taking Tai Chi lessons a while back but little inconveniences kept getting in the way. The first week — bad weather, the second week–a bad cold, third week, my kitchen flooded, (due to a faulty leak from the apartment upstairs), had to wait on a plumber. Finally, I gave up and decided to wait until the offer comes my way again.

“Tai Chi is now known as one of the most effective exercises for physical and mental well-being. Sun style (pronounced Soong) is one of five widely recognized styles. It is especially suitable and effective for those who have arthritis.

Tai Chi is the most prominent Chinese martial art of the internal style. Internal styles place emphasis on breathing (Qigong) and the mental component of their training. Qigong movements, which help breathing and relaxation, are particularly effective for healing and repairing cartilage, inflamed joints and tendons. Execution of movement is generally softer, in contrast to the External style, which tends to be ballistic and harsh, for example, Karate.

Many other martial arts concentrate on the External forms, featuring vigorous body movements, dynamic kicks, and harsh punching actions. In contrast, Tai Chi consists of fluid, gentle, graceful, and circular movements that are relaxed and slow in tempo. Breathing is deepened and slowed, aiding visual and mental concentration. The body relaxes, allowing the life force of Qi (pronounced chee), which allows the energy inside the body to flow unimpeded. These techniques help integrate mind and body into a harmonious inner and outer self. A person living in harmony is more likely to be happy, fulfilled, and healthy.

Today Tai chi is practiced throughout the world for its many health benefits. Tai chi strengthens and mobilizes the joints and muscles, improving physical fitness and mental relaxation. It is especially suitable as a therapy for arthritis because its movements are slow and gentle, and the level of exertion can be adjusted to suit each person’s physical condition. Movements may even be done in a chair if needed or desired.

Arthritis has no cure, but if the condition is under control and you are able to enjoy your  chosen lifestyle, then it is not as important. Tai Chi has been proven effective by both logical deduction and scientific evidence.

Well, I can’t wait until I can take advantage of this “Supreme Ultimate.” To be relaxed, healthy and free from arthritic pain, isn’t that the goal of everyone? And I just found out that new classes will start at Hall’s Senior Center on March 17th.

Material from “Tai Chi from the Arthritis Foundation,” compiled by Don Parsley, Tai Chi instructor.

Thought for the day: A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. Chinese Proverb

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