Tuesday and Thursday, 3-5 pm, and 6-8 pm
Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, Pine Island Center
Contact Frank Tuma at 283-9155 or FrankATuma@cs.com.
Tai Chi – How It Works
By Frank Tuma
The Pine Island Eagle
Tai Chi has its roots in Taoism, Zen from Buddhism and the disciplined efficiency from Confucianism.There has been a recent scientific study performed in China in partnership with an American medical university to evaluate, by actual brain measurement, the value of Tai Chi and other aerobic activities.
A representative sample of 120 non-dementia elderly people, split into three groups, had two MRIs taken, one before doing their assigned tasks and one after. Significant increases in brain volumes and cognition were measured in the Tai Chi, non-aerobic exercises group. The same MRI tests were performed on people who walked and performed other aerobic exercises, and very minimal brain enlargement or increased cognition was measured. The reason assumed for these results is the very extensive brain-to-body interaction required to learn and perform Tai Chi.
The five qualities of Tai Chi are: slow, balanced, continuous, centered and graceful. All must be practiced when performing Tai Chi. The most important aspect of Tai Chi is the development of awareness, which is sensing all the energies around us.
The very slow, standing movements of Tai Chi go in all directions of the compass, moving all the body parts as we do in real life. We are living an imaginary battle with continuously attacking opponents coming from all directions for 15 to 20 minutes. This is the time it takes to do the entire form, approximately 126 movements.
As we know from bicycle riding, it is much easier to balance at speed than at a near standstill. So, we learn balance, relaxation, precision and energy movement skills from moving slowly. Life experiences have taught us that tightness inhibits speed and power. Turning at all angles of the compass to meet the continuously attacking enemy teaches spatial concepts, coordination, balance and gracefulness. Occasional exercise does not do much good. We have to do it on a regular basis. Sitting for long periods is counterproductive for the body and the brain.
The 2 hours per session class time is divided into sections devoted to internal and external preparation as well as Tai Chi form practice. We work on loosening, stretching, breathing and meditation. We also study Eastern Philosophy during the break period in order to better understand the foundations of Tai Chi.
Learning how to breathe and move the energy through our body parts is very important. By doing this, we can change the brain mood from wherever it is to a contented of a happy state. This has also been proven and demonstrated by science. Also, we know from life experiences that you cannot expend energy outward while breathing in, instead you must breathe out (for example, pushing a car). These breathing processes are an extremely important part of Tai Chi.
If you are impaired by age, misuse, or disease the time it takes to learn the form and appropriate drills and exercises increases until your body is repaired or improved. Since the form is done slowly and only with the rigor your body is capable of, your health level when you start doesn’t matter very much. As we deteriorate and stop doing things as well in life, we start to lose confidence. This makes deterioration even faster as we fear doing things we used to do regularly. Seeing and feeling this confidence return is a big step. As confidence continues to rise, the spirit rises and now almost anything is possible. Increasing our longevity doesn’t count for much if we can’t enjoy a certain level of quality in our lives.
Please contact Frank Tuma at 239-283-9155 regarding Tai Chi. Class is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at the Fishers of Men Lutheran Church on Pine Island.