Rick Barrett will lead T’ai Chi on January 13. Check out the class page for more.
By Rick Barrett
The many health benefits of t’ai chi ch’uan (taijiquan) have been known in China for a long time. It is often the first recourse for chronic illnesses in doctor-starved rural areas. Here in the pill-popping West, it has only recently begun to be acknowledged as a way to create health. Creative ways to empirically test t’ai chi had to be devised before the conservative medical health community could give its grudging endorsement. Now, such prestigious institutions as the Mayo Clinic and Harvard University are a bit more enthusiastic.
An article from the Harvard Medical School lists some of the more testable effects of regular practice: improvements in “muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning.” (Many studies show the positive effect on preventing injuries due to falls in the elderly.) The article also indicates its value in treating some medical conditions (and in helping recovery from treatment): arthritis, low bone density, beast cancer, heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, parkinson’s, sleep problems, and stroke.
While it is great to get some numbers to back up what its practitioners have known for a long time, these studies miss the more important point:
We are all capable of much more than we have ever dreamed. T’ai chi’s healing powers are none other than our own. Regular practice allows us to claim our birthright. It helps us become more aware of our potential as energy beings open to a field of possibilities. Good health is a by-product of a relaxed,joyful, integration of body-mind-spirit.
In this series of classes we will experience what it means to “Use the Force, Luke.” You won’t just feel your ch’i (qi), but learn to use it effectively. You will taste what else is possible and get some really fun tools to make it reality for you.
We are going to examine t’ai chi from the inside out–the feeling more than just the form. These classes are ideal for beginners as well as grizzled veterans with decades of practice. We will use the movements I learned from William C. C. Chen as our starting point, and investigate the energies that make them work. The principles we uncover have universal application. If you like the form you’ve been doing, they may provide a fresh perspective. If you are new to t’ai chi, you will learn some simple movements that open doors to a new world of possibility.
Even if you can’t make the whole series, try the free class on Monday, January 6 at 6pm.
My book, Taijiquan: Through the Western Gate, is available at the Open Center book store. I will be happy to autograph your copy.