Tai Chi

Hello all, thought I would write a bit of an update following the helpful responses I got to my previous post asking about the value of Tai Chi.

I did go along to local classes and found that I was far more tottery than I had thought! couldn't manage to synchronize the hand and leg movements and was frequently in danger of over-balancing. That convinced me it was something worth pursuing, as the exercises should help to strengthen and improve balance.

I can whole-heartedly endorse what some of you told me: the teacher's style/method is very important. I found the one I'd picked very gentle in approach but (for me) not focused enough on helping class members to work out the detail of the movements so that we could replicate. On the other hand, he was very definite about not over-stretching, etc, and stopping/resting when needed. I also found that the sessions left me feeling very (pleasantly) tired, but oddly also quite energised.

I've now bought some dvd tutorials and have decided to continue practising in the comfort of my own home. I can already see an improvement in my balance, and the tiredness that follows is good because it's not the result of stress. Many thanks to all of you who gave such helpful advice.

22 Replies

  • Good, nice to hear that its works, or is working, for you. I've though about trying it, but at the moment am sticking with Pilates, unfortunately can't do them all. Pity we can't get something like that on prescription occasionally. I know lots of places do that with ordinary exercise classes but they're not really suitable for PMR et al.

  • I've come to the conclusion that hitting on the right class with the right instructor and at the right timing, while at the same time living with the ups and downs (physical and emotional) of PMR, can be really tricky. One day I was running late to get to the class, and found myself getting into a real tizz - not usually my style! So, doing exercises in front of the TV reduces stress for me - but of course demands good motivation to get going at all!

  • I am currently investigating the possibility of a GP referral for classes, locally. I have two friends who benefit from this scheme: one with Parkinsoons and another who was referred as part as an exercise/diet regime to combat high cholesterol. She went to her first class on Friday and said it was quite gentle. I would assume ( perhaps wrongly) that as it is part of health-related therapy, it should be towards the gentler end of Tai Chi. Planning to see the GP, this week (fingers crossed!) so will report back.

    P.S. I'm in Wales, so don't know if that makes any difference, but we do get free prescriptions, too!

  • Tai Chi, although based on martial arts, as practiced today is gentle, at least the Yang style which is the most commonly found version. Very slow movements, and you only go as far as you can when stretching or balancing. It's recommended for old people!

  • Hi,

    It probably does! As I said some local doctors do give exercise prescriptions to those who need to lose weight, but think Tai Chi may be a step too far! Especially the way the NHS is going.

    I'm quite happy with my Pilates, only a small class and very good instructor, but might try and find a Tai Chi class one day.

  • I do think the idea of referring patients to classes a good idea though, rather than just filling them full of drugs. My GP practice did give free tickets to the swimming pool but have stopped. The trouble was people could just do what they fancied with the tickets, I think proper lessons are a better idea. Also I feel GPs could advertise facilities available. In my village we have an outdoor gym on our recreation ground, I wrote to the GP's surgery about letting people know about some training sessions we had organised for free but never heard anything back. It seems they are too busy.

  • It has just been announced that the German fundholders are allocating 450+ thousand euros to "preventative medicine", more than double previous allocations. It is to be used to provide weight loss classes and other such helpful projects. I suspect it will also include sending people to exercise classes...

  • Perhaps UK will copy them, I think some forward looking surgeries do try, but we do seem to be reactive rather than proactive in this country. I read that the Germans are stopping or have stopped accupuncture as part of their health system, so UK is thinking of doing the same thing. Mind you UK seems to be hell bent on stopping everything!

  • They had a brief essay here subsidising gym/physio but it was very restrictive in what was covered and nothing even remotely suitable for PMR... :-(

  • Yes, and it's a bit hit and miss. Our local leisure facility doesn't seem to partake, yet another 25 miles away, but in the same county and under the health authority doesn't! The one that doesn't is run by a nationwide company, the one that does is jointly run by a private company and the local authority.

  • I'm in Wales too so will be interested to see if anything is available.

  • Where abouts are you in Wales? Did you know if you ironed Wales out it would be bigger than England!!

  • In the wet bit! Merthyr Tydfil.

  • What do mean in the wet bit? Living in Wales is like living in a goldfish bowl. Cross the Severn bridge and it starts to rain!

    I think there will be Tai Chi classes in that fantastic Leisure Centre you have.

  • Yes, there are classes there and certain people can be GP referred, thought don't know whether PMR counts. Sunny, today!

  • Have a go with your GP, nothing ventured nothing gained. It may not be that expensive anyway if they refuse. Sunny in Wales, goodness me!!

  • P. S. We do tend to find that Wales is a country that is roughly the size of Wales, though you could well be right about its being bigger than England!

  • I'm near Lampeter in Ceredigion, living in the last decade I think.

  • Lucky you, on both counts!

  • If you are interested in an online version, when I was starting out I found the Best Four Hour Tutorial for Beginners to be really good. He went over every single move many times, also did a little demonstration of common mistakes to avoid, and never had high expectations for any stretching, etc - warned against overdoing things. I've moved beyond his tutorial now, but for the first year I found it invaluable for practice between classes and in the summer hiatus.

  • Many thanks for this link Heron -didn't find this one when I was trying to decide which dvd to buy. In the end I went with Tai Chi for Beginners by Dr Paul Lam and find this clear and slow enough for me. Will also check your suggestion - can't have too many helpful lessons!

  • Yes, I borrowed Dr Lam's DVD from the library. He is excellent. I'm too much of a skinflint to buy the DVDs and Dr Lam is careful enough not to have much of his material on YouTube! My classes were offered through our local department of recreation, and were very inexpensive, but unfortunately the instructor has developed a serious health problem of his own (operation on what I believe was a benign brain tumour) so classes are cancelled indefinitely. I've got to the point where I can carry on in my home, but it was always nice to have the company, and there is never any end to learning tai chi!

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