I did Tai Chi this weekend.
It was a wet miserable Sunday in the UK and I had nothing better to do so I thought I’d give it a go.
I’ve been before actually, but it was a long time ago and I’d forgotten how therapeutic and relaxing it is. I think the main reason it’s so relaxing is that you can’t actually think about anything else for the entire class because the moment you let your mind wander, you lose your rhythm.
Personally I have to stand directly behind the instructor so I can copy his moves. Being opposite a mirror however is a bit of a distraction but there’s no chance of checking your form because the moment you look at yourself, you lose track of what’s going on.
Anyone thinking of going but worrying about embarrassing themselves, don’t let this put you off, nobody’s watching you, nobody’s watching themselves, they’re all watching the Tai Chi master.
I love the music. It’s peaceful and relaxing. I love the movement which is fast and flowing but not in an out of breath kind of way.
It doesn’t matter how old or fit you are, anyone can do Tai Chi, in fact the guy that taught me today is actually a 55 year old full time cardiologist. He’s a big believer in eastern forms of exercise and medicine and favours them over synthetic drugs any day.
I remember travelling in Vietnam about five years ago, we got up at the crack of dawn and I mean crack – 4.30am to go on a ‘Good Morning Saigon’ tour. The whole point of the tour was to witness Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) as the sun rises. There were literally thousands of people in the park doing Tai Chi or other forms of exercise. As we wandered through, several things struck me. 1. That there were a variety of ages – from the very young to the very old, 2. That there was every form of exercise class available – from the more traditional yoga and Tai Chi to trampolining and badminton, and 3. that everyone was slim.
The west has a lot to learn from the east in terms of health. Over the past few decades we’ve declined in terms of exercise, fresh air and nutrition. It’s no wonder we have a mass obesity epidemic.
The benefits of Tai Chi are massive and studies have shown that it can help people aged 65 and over to reduce stress, improve balance and general mobility and increase strength. So just think about what it could do to our nation’s health if we encouraged it from a younger age.
If Yoga and Tai Chi were available on the NHS for both physical and mental health issues I’m sure we’d have a fitter nation.