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Canadian Tai Chi Academy
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    How Tai Chi Helped Me
    Posted Februaray 19, 2018
I started learning Tai chi as a leisure activity. Being self-employed I worked 7 days a week and wasn't giving myself enough me time. I really wasn't looking to achieve anything, it was simply a diversion. Not being terribly athletic Tai Chi complemented my level of physical fitness. Tai chi for me is a very quiet activity both in the way it is practised and in it's results. A Tai chi class is the only place I've been in a room full of people that have been in motion and was surrounded with silence. After several months of doing Tai chi I noticed I had more energy and had seen an improvement in strength, it had just crept up on me so to speak. I also (apparently) seemed happier (according to my family).

Two years after starting Tai Chi my heart pump needed to be replaced. Post surgery I knew I needed to plan for my recovery. After the heart surgery I felt weak and lacked stamina. My first instinct was to ask my doctor what activity I should be doing. His question to me was what activity am I doing now? I told him Tai chi. His response surprised me. He remarked that Tai Chi is great for stretching but is not an exercise. My response was to do what all modern people do and go online and researched Tai Chi and to see if it was being used as a cardio recovery programme. To my delight, yes it was. It was being used by no less than the Mayo clinic, Harvard Medical, Tuft University Medical and UCLA Medical. I learned that Tai chi was less stressful on hearts and arteries as they relaxed and didn't tense up while exercising like they do when doing traditional forms of resistance training. It was less likely that exercising with Tai chi would cause another heart problem and people who do the Tai chi exercise are more likely to continue practising long after the initial need.

At 69 years old I am not looking to impress anyone. My days of standing on the beach and trying to look good are long gone. I am more concerned with being healthy and happy in my life. I can say without question that regular Tai chi practice has provided me with an excellent quality of life. I am not certain how it achieves its goal but I am certain it could work for you. While my opinion may not count for much, Dr Michael Irwin who has authored a dozen studies on Tai Chi says "Over time we see people who do Tai Chi achieve similar levels of fitness as those who do other forms of physical therapy."" He calls Tai Chi a good "cross fit" exercise programme.
    Ron Collins

    Health Promotion Workshop
        December 2, 2017

    Posted January 22, 2018
The Health Promotion Workshop held at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia was well attended by more than 35 participants. We benefitted from having two instructors who have training and experience in Health Promotion and Health Recovery. Trisha Martin from Bridgewater and Michael Haley from Halifax were an excellent team as they held our attention in an entertaining and enlightening workshop.

Four of the local instructors and a full complement of instructor assistants and set 'corners' were at the workshop, as well as two instructors who travelled from the Cumberland area. The workshop was open to students in the Beginner Classes and it was good to see eleven of them in attendance as well.

Patricia and Fazal Rahman hosted a 'Meet and Greet' at their home the night before the workshop. This gave us a chance to socialize and to enjoy a wonderful meal together.

As Trisha led the group in foundations, Michael assisted with verbal focus on body awareness. He directed us to discover for ourselves where each movement was generated. He explained there was no right or wrong way but that awareness was key, and with awareness, we had the option of where to focus our attention and from where to initiate each move.

Trisha and Michael shared information about our physiology and the health benefits of Tai Chi from both the Chinese and Western perspectives. We learned that, from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, disease and restricted physical activity cause stagnation of chi, and the practice of Tai Chi clears blockages and allows the chi to move freely again. Through our practice the five major organs are massaged. From the western perspective, Tai Chi increases flow of blood, lymph, spinal and joint fluids, all of which are essential to health.

Trisha asked participants to think about how their instructors could help them in their practice. One participant responded by speaking about how she has learned to do the set at a slower pace, modify the exercises and take breaks when needed, rather than trying to keep up with the group. Trisha and Michael encouraged us to understand our own personal physiology and asked us to inform our instructors of balance issues or physical restrictions and to ask for help with modifications.

Trisha introduced us to a series of stretches and exercises that could be performed while seated. We were led through exercises that address the spine, knees, shoulders, wrists and fingers to assist in reducing some of the physical stiffness and pain associated with limited mobility. Trisha also demonstrated helping a student with balance issues to walk with greater stability.

We completed the three-hour workshop by doing the first seventeen moves of the set while seated in our chairs. This was quite a workout and, in the writer's experience, not a 'light version' of the set! It is wonderful to know that people with balance and mobility issues can still benefit from Tai Chi!

Thank you to Trisha and Michael for generously sharing their time and expertise with all of us. Thank you also to all the volunteers who helped to put this together, to Patricia and Fazal for hosting the potluck, to everyone who contributed food, and to the C.T.C.A. for sponsoring this workshop. In just a few hours I believe everyone gained a deeper understanding of the health benefits of this practice. I have an increased 'body awareness' and 'sense of personal responsibility' in my practice; and an appreciation for how Tai Chi can be modified for people with balance and mobility issues. I look forward to learning more from this great team!
    Respectfully submitted:
    Collene Dahlby, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia