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Tai Chi Articles

Tai Chi Group - Report for Annual Church Meeting - March 2009

- from Lorraine Cooke, St. Martian's Church, Droylsden, Manchester
Date put: April 2009
The Tai Chi Group, now in its third year, continues as a thriving and successful group, still with the same leader, Dr Xianglin Li, who has studied Tai Chi for 25 years, originally in his native China.

He is painstaking in his teaching, patient and considerate and popular with the whole class. Most importantly, he is aware of and sympathetic to the ethos of a church group. He has attended several community events run by the Church and was pleased to attend the community gathering when Bishop Nigel visited last year, including attending the church service afterwards.

He is keen also to share his own culture and, as in previous years, again invited members of the class to a Chinese Banquet, with his other groups; to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Receiving a grant to support the group has meant that the class can be advertised as a committed and long-standing group which continues to develop in the practice of tai chi. Two newspaper articles appeared with pictures of the group in the local press and the class is advertised weekly at no cost, in the community diary dates section of the 'Advertiser'. Consequently the membership is steadily increasing and 18 or so regulars attend each week, some newcomers to St Martin's group also attending the teacher's Ashton class.

With a welcoming feel, new members are encouraged and incorporated into the group, more experienced members now assisting others.

The benefits of this type of exercise are felt physically and emotionally with improvements in posture, suppleness, breathing and relaxation etc. The fact that it can be continued into old age is also beneficial for the social wellbeing of older people and provides a good setting for church members also to meet a wider community group.

It is a good basis for preparing the body and spirit for prayer and mediation and therefore useful for members of the Church's prayer groups. New class members of the group are told that the Church is open for quiet reflection and prayer. Some light candles, request prayer and feel much more relaxed about joining in with St Martin's church services and other community activities.

St. Martian's Tai Chi Group, Droylsden

Date: May 2008
The following article was published this month in the Parish Magazine of St Martin's Church in Droylsden where I hold a weekly daytime class.

The student who wrote the article has been attending classes in Ashton-under-Lyne for some years now and also attends the Droylsden class which is at her local church. This 18 short-form class has been running for 18 months now.

"Members of the tai chi group continue to make good progress, even if it doesn't always seem that way. As with everything else, some weeks we're better than others! How many members of the group would have thought when they first started that they'd be able to balance on one leg, spin round and maintain the tai chi stance for as long as we do now.

Does this sound too energetic? Not a bit of it, all our muscles, joints and tendons are gently warmed up at the start of the session and massaged in the relaxation period at the end. In between, we've done some deep and regular breathing while we summon our body's energy; we've practised our step exercises which improve our body co-ordination and strengthen our leg muscles and we've practised the 18 short-form, the series of movements specially devised to be repeated and practised rhythmically and regularly well into old age.

Did I say we'd also improved our circulation, breathing, relaxation and general mobility and flexibility? There are no negative aspects to tai chi, which is why it's stood the test of time so well. We don't need special equipment just soft flat shoes and comfortable clothes. Like any new exercise class, anyone with a serious health condition should discuss it with their doctor and take it gently, but all the movements have an easier version and most health problems can be accommodated.

What we do need, to learn it properly and effectively, is a patient and conscientious teacher and we have that here too. Like any good teacher he's always positive about our achievements and never belittles us, even when we continually get it wrong! One can never say 'I can do tai chi', it's a continuous process to learn it correctly, practice it and refine it to achieve the full potential, physically and mentally.

That's why we always welcome newcomers, we're still learning ourselves and although devised as a martial art, our class is specially geared to students who are older, who perhaps have health conditions but who want to stay as fit as possible for as long as possible.

The hall at St Martin's is well suited to the class but if Tuesday mornings are out of the question, the teacher runs another tai chi class in Ashton and has also recently started there, a new one hour class of stretching and deep breathing exercises which can complement tai chi or be used as a completely separate technique. Called Ba Duan Jin, this was originally devised to help Buddhist monks who spent a long time in prayer in the same posture, is quite appropriate now for us really!

In fact, the deep sense of relaxation experienced in the continued practice of tai chi and qigong deep breathing is a real aid in preparing the mind and body for meditation and contemplative prayer.

Why not give tai chi a try; you've nothing to lose but everything to gain. Details from the posters in the church hall, Rev'd Donna, or myself, or from our teacher Xianglin Li on 07877 442771. The class isn't restricted to St Martin's congregation either, so please pass details on to any else who you think may be interested.

How Tai Chi Chuan Can Lower High Blood Pressure?

By: Dr Xianglin Li
High Blood Pressure or Hypertension is not fully understood by medical science, with only 10% of cases classed as Symptom (or Secondary) Hypertension, being attributable to certain diseases. In the remaining 90% of cases classed as Essential (or Primary) Hypertension, no specific cause can be determined, however, it is thought that prolonged mental stress and emotional excitement are significant factors, resulting in the decline of cerebral cortex function and small arteries throughout the body losing their ability to relax normally.

Practising Tai Chi Chuan is an effective way of relaxing both mentally and physically, and helps to reduce high blood pressure by regenerating the central nerve, which enables the small arteries to relax. Practising Tai Chi provides at least three benefits for the people who suffer from high blood pressure: Firstly, Tai Chi can be played softly and gently, which can help to relax muscles and blood vessels throughout the body, thereby lowering high blood pressure. Secondly, practising Tai Chi requires relaxation, concentration, and visualization (Yi Yian in Chinese) to guide movement, thereby reducing the risk of high blood pressure caused by emotional excitement. Thirdly, Tai Chi movements incorporate balance and co-ordination exercises which provide additional benefits such as improving immune system. According to Chinese Qi (or Chi in English) opinion, if your body is relaxed, then Qi and blood can flow smoothly, the energy channels and joints of the body work in harmony, and internal organs are held in balance, thereby preventing ill health. A report by the Beijing Sports Medicine Research Institution(appearing in a article of Tai Ji Quan with Health and Long Life, author: Xie Wen De) provides evidence of this, from the comparison of two groups of elderly people. In the first group who practise Tai Chi the average blood pressure is 134.1/80.8mmHg, and the arteriosclerosis rate (loss of elasticity in medium to large arteries through hardening) is 39.5%. In the second group who do not practise Tai Chi the average blood pressure is 154.5/82.7mmHg, which is 20mmHg higher than the first group, and the arteriosclerosis rate is 46.4%, which is also 7 points higher than the first group.

Why Diabetics Should Try Chinese Exercises

By: Jenny Hope
From: 'Daily Mail' Newspaper
Traditional Chinese martial arts exercises could help diabetics control their blood sugar levels, say researchers.

They found that a 12-week programme of T'ai Chi led to a 'significnt' fall of 8 per cent in blood sugar levels in those suffering Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity.

Researchers from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, also discovered that the exercises boosted the body's immune system.

This is significnt because an improved immune system dampes the chronic inflammation of the body's internal organs whichh is associated with diabetes.

In a separated study, researchers from the University of Queensland found that a 12-week progrmme of T'ai Chi and Qigong - another Chinese exercise - resulted in a signiaficant fall in blood glucose levels in a dozen middle ged to older adults.

Insulin resistance also improved significantly.

Thestudies are published today before being printed in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. T'ai Chi involves moderate exercise using flowing movements and deep breathering using the diaphragm.

It is practised by millons of Chinese daily as a way to health which can continue into old age. Around 1.8million in the UK suffer from Type 2 diabetes.

Fitness News-Tai Chi helps control diabetes condition

From: 'Daily Mail' Newspaper
Regular sessions of Tai Chi, the traditional Chinese fitness regime, can help people with Type 2 diabetes control their condition, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researchers from Taiwan assessed the results of a 12-week programme of Tai Chi exercises on the immune system-specifically 'T-helper' cells which affect the immune response to disease.They found that while intense, strenuous physical activity depressed the immune system, moderate exercise, such as Tai Chi, appears to have the opposite effect. Patients' levels of the chemicals which boost immunity doubled, while their glucose levels dropped. A separate Austrialian study soon to be published found that Tai Chi and Qigong (another form of Chinese exercise) resulted in a drop in blood glucose levels among middle-aged people with metabollic syndrome - a condition linked to diabetes and heart disease.

Tai Chi Helps Asthma Sufferers Control Condition

From: 'The Daily Telegramph' Newspaper Thursday, October 30, 2008
The art of Tai Chi, which invoves slow movements and focused breathing, could help asthma sufferers to control the condition. Researchers in Tailand found positive effects on asthma control among patients after six weeks of Tai Chi lessons. The results were presented to the American College of Chest Physicians.

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