Tai Chi for Seniors

Tai Chi for Seniors: How to Get Started

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The Chinese martial arts known as “Tai Chi” is an internal martial arts form, meaning that it is focused on improving the mind and spirit of the participating person.  It is a health practice that has grown in popularity in the United States since first being introduced in the mid twentieth century.

One of the attractive advantages of Tai Chi is that it can be easily picked up, including for seniors, even if they do not have the ability to attend classes in person.  It is also suitable for people of varying athletic ability.  In order to get started, you simply need Internet access and the ability to follow on with the instruction in videos.

Medical studies have indicated that Tai Chi carries many potential benefits for seniors, including helping to improve coordination, balance, and other muscle functions.  These are crucial areas that need to be exercised in order to lower the risk of falls, broken bones, and other complications that many people 65 and older can suffer from.  Read on to learn more!

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What Is the Best Tai Chi For Seniors?

While there is no form of Tai Chi that is automatically suited for every senior, the most ideal form for this age group, as evidenced by the experts, seems to be Yang.

Yang is a form of Tai Chi that places a strong emphasis on the free flowing of arms and legs in a wide direction.  It is also one of the most popular forms of Tai Chi in the world, according to the Yang Family Tai Chi Association.

Yang works through a series of movements of the hands, arms, legs, and the rest of the body taking the form of poses.  These poses are prescribed beforehand and come in multiple forms, with the most popular being the 103-form.  This form was adapted by Tai Chi master Yang Chengfu in order to be compatible for a wider body of participants.

Can I Learn Tai Chi on My Own?

The short answer is absolutely, you can learn Tai Chi on your own!  Tai Chi is meant to be practiced by the individual with their own self-improvement as the primary goal.

If you are reading this, it is likely that you either know Tai Chi or have thought about the possibility of learning it.  In the case of the latter, you don’t have to worry about a whole lot other than two things: the ability to watch videos on the Internet and to exercise your joints.

That said, it can obviously be difficult or even a bit confusing to try to pick something up if you don’t have any prior experience with it.  But as the old saying goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

You have nothing to fear if you want to learn Tai Chi, as you will learn.  If you come prepared by being willing to apply yourself to the practice, you will hopefully find it to be an edifying experience, both physically, mentally, and perhaps even spiritually.

How Can I Get Started Learning Tai Chi?

As we already mentioned, there are a plethora of resources available to help you get started learning Tai Chi and to help guide you throughout your experience.

Check out the Tai Chi for Beginners article to learn more about how to get started in the process of learning Tai Chi.

Given all the information out there, you may end up finding yourself unsure which videos to watch, advice to follow, or other information to read. 

That is where The Complete Guide to Tai Chi may come in handy for you.  This program is dedicated to providing high quality instruction videos and other learning materials to Tai Chi practitioners, from the beginner to advanced levels.

The program was created by Michael Taylor, a certified yoga and tai chi instructor with more than 30 years of practical experience in the field, including as a former competitive martial artist.  He also studied mind-body medicine and complementary medicine at Harvard and Oxford, respectfully

The Complete Guide to Tai Chi offers a generous package of practical instruction.  The first five lessons are introductory material, followed by eight lessons dealing with natural movement, five lessons on proper tai chi routines, and ending with four lessons that teach tai chi forms.

The package also includes detailed advice on how to release chronic tension, as well as advice on the implementation of Tai Chi and its principles.  In all, it is available for $179.99.

Three Benefits of Doing Tai Chi For Seniors

There is a simple truth about our bodies that exists, but which is not always easy to admit; namely that if you take care of your body, odds are it will take care of you.

It can be all too easy to lose sight of the importance of regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a positive, can-do attitude.  We all have distractions in our lives that can pull us away from these practices.  For seniors, staying committed to healthy living is a necessity as it is the key to longevity.

Fortunately, Tai Chi is the kind of exercise that is easy to not only pick up but devote portions of one’s time and energy to.  Since it engages both the body and the mind, you will find that it can offer you benefits to both that might be lacking in a normal workout routine.

But what exactly are these benefits and how can we be sure they will help us?  Let’s take a closer look!

The First Benefit: Relieving Stress in The Joints

It goes without saying that over the course of time, the average human body will incur a lot of muscle and bone tension, strains, abrasions, or even sprains or broken bones. 

In fact, according to a study undertaken by the Beneden Healthcare Society, the average person incurs approximately 9,672 ailments over the course of a life that is measured to 78 years!  In the case of someone who constantly does a physical activity such as manual labor, the number might be even higher.

Our bodies are strong, but they are susceptible to wear and tear, even while exercising.  Senior health is so important. If you are a senior who wants to either get in shape or improve to the next level but are worried about the impact that strenuous exercise might have on your joints (particularly if you have a history of injuries), Tai Chi may be an ideal alternative for you.

The Second Benefit: Relieving Stress In The Mind

For many people, stress is an everyday part of life.  Work that needs to get done, bills that need to be paid, difficulties in relationships, concerns about political and economic situations, and many other factors can lead to us finding ourselves in prolonged periods of anxiety.  These, in turn, can lead to bad habits or even addictions as well as a disregard for our health.

Seniors especially may find themselves concerned about family or retirement issues, the eventual reality of death, and whether or not they have lived their best life. 

One of the benefits of an exercise discipline like Tai Chi is that through careful exercises of the body and mind, it can help a person relieve stress by inviting them to center or refocus their energy on what is truly important.  In fact, The Complete Guide to Tai Chi offers advice on precisely this.

It should be noted that Tai Chi will only be a part of the journey and should not be used as a substitute for the professional medical help one can receive from professionals in the fields of psychological counseling and therapy.

Nevertheless, the practice of Tai can be a welcome companion to the help received in those settings.  In fact, a study conducted by the medical research publication BioMed Central stated that Tai Chi was observed to help reduce “stress, anxiety, depression and mood disturbance, and increased self-esteem” in the study’s participants.

The Third Benefit: The Harmony of Body And Mind

If Tai Chi can improve both the body and mind as has been documented by both medical evidence and the testimony of its practitioners, we can conclude that it is also helpful in uniting the two together.

How exactly does this work though?  In order to answer this question, we must first take a brief look at the history of the practice.

Tai Chi originated in 17th century China as a mix of earlier internal martial arts systems including Qigong.  It teaches that the most important thing in life is balance, and that living with mind and body in harmony with nature is the key to happiness.

Even if one does not subscribe to the religious tenets of this belief system, there is certainly wisdom here that people of all religious faiths or none can digest.  In fact, having a healthy view of one’s place in the grand scheme of things is a common belief among many of the major and minor religions of the world.

As a result, Tai Chi therefore can help to center the mind and body in a way that promotes a positive outlook on not only one’s own life circumstances, but a sense of understanding of the context of who, what, when, where, why, and how one is.

Great Tai Chi Videos for Seniors

If you are unsure of whether or not you want to invest the time and money in a program like The Complete Guide to Tai Chi and are simply looking to dip your toe in the water, there are some excellent Tai Chi videos for seniors on YouTube.

Tai Chi for Seniors In Oxford, Michigan Video Series

These videos were released over the course of a few years, and show instructor Daniella Ostezan leading a group of seniors in both introductory and more complex forms of Tai Chi.

They are a valuable resource because the instructor’s movements are easy to emulate, courtesy of both a good camera angle and audio quality.

Taiflow Beginner Video

Tai Chi instructor Leia Cohen leads participants in a “5 minutes a day” beginner video, as well as many subsequent videos on her channel that deal with different aspects of Tai Chi. 

The beginner video is just of the instructor and is easy to follow.

Daily TaiChi With Don Fiore

Instructor Don Fiore leads participants in a twenty minute beginner Tai Chi instruction Youtube video, as well as offering more videos on his channel.  The audio and video quality are superb!

Is Tai Chi Hard on The Knees?

Despite what we have already learned about how Tai Chi is good with joints, there is in fact a small risk of knee injury due to some twisting and turning in the foot that occurs in a few exercises.

Fortunately, this risk can be mitigated by finding a qualified instructor and ensuring that the poses are undertaken in the correct form.  If you ensure to do both of these things, then you shouldn’t have much to worry about!

Conclusion

Tai Chi is a form of exercise that provides discipline and stress relief to both the body and mind. As such, it should be an intriguing option for many seniors who want to improve these things through an engaging and fun workout routine.  Start anywhere.  You can check out vids on YouTube, take Tai Chi Classes Online or even look up places near you offering in-person classes.