by Kim Kubsch: Tai Chi-Qigong is practiced around the world by a wide variety of people and ages.
Originating as one of the martial arts, Tai Chi and Qigong originated in China centuries ago. Its values include tranquility, harmony and reflection.
The practice of Tai Chi and Qigong helps relax the mind and body and is effective for every almost everyone, including those with physical challenges and chronic diseases. One of many beauties of Tai Chi is that it can be done everywhere standing or seating and for a variety of levels: beginner, intermediate, chair, including those who use wheelchair or walkers. Public and private, individual Tai Chi practice is conducted around the world in public venues, at home or garden, on the airplane, at senior centers, assisted living centers, fitness centers, community clubhouses or in a hotel room.
Each and every Tai Chi or Qigong practice is one that can make us feel younger by reducing stress and facilitating relaxation with slow, deep breathing. So why are people like me so passionate about teaching easy and gentle Tai Chi-Qigong to older adults to feel younger?
The safe movements of Tai Chi and Qigong enhance overall health, increase flexibility, improve balance and coordination, and reduce stress, while building bone strength? One in three people over 65, fall in their homes each year. By preventing falls, people feel stronger, youthful and more confident to keep moving.
As a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), my focus is active aging and preventing falls, NOT reacting to falls. Iam a firm believer that “Life in balance is a body in motion!” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “Tai Chi has been shown to reduce risk of falling between 47and 55 percent.”
The beauty of Tai Chi for older adults and especially those with chronic diseases or physical challenges include enhancing vitality through flowing movements, breath, massage, and meditation, modifying and adapting the movements to remain in your individual comfort zone and it can be practiced almost anywhere on a flat surface: no equipment is required. Tai Chi and Qigong are enjoyed by all ages and older adults feel young while enjoying their practice next to a teenager or college student, yet modifying movements for their individual ability.
“Tai chi is often described as meditation in motion, but it might well be called medication in motion. There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice has value in treating or preventing many health problems,”according to Harvard Medical Health Publication.
An interesting note –the average age at my assisted living center class in Sun Lakes, Arizona is 88 and two ladies are 94. They stand tall enjoying the flowing, fluid and graceful movements of Tai Chi each and every week! Attending easy and gentle class at a multi-generational fitness center is Hazel who is 97 years young. She sits, rather than stands, and tries to breathe deeper each week – a true challenge for those like her with COPD. She reports that her Pulmonologist is thrilled to see her benefit from Tai Chi and is very thankful to her daughter for sharing this safe movement class with her.
The oldest Tai Chi-Qigong enthusiast I have taught to date is a Chandler, Arizona centenarian! Maynard is 105 and attends the Chair Tai Chi class. Imagine attending your first Tai Chi class with those who are 20-40 years younger than you. Even though his vision and hearing are challenged, Maynard always has a smile, loves to socialize before and after and he keeps his entire body moving! He not only feels young, but thinks young.
Dr. Oz is so correct when he says, “If you want to be healthy and live to be 100, do Qigong.” What a testimonial Maynard is that safe movements are essential for life in balance at every age!