Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

August 5, 2018

Saunas Linked to Numerous Health Benefits

It must be true if the Mayo Clinic researchers are saying so…

And… I have covered the subject of saunas and the health benefits several times over the years here in this Blog. Sauna good!

Each report seems to provide a few more details regarding the best practices for sauna use: more seems to be better. About 160 -170° for about 20 minutes several times per week seems to be the sweet spot for maximum health benefits, but any seems to better than none.

“A stint in a sauna is not only pleasant and relaxing but may also improve health, according to the authors of a new, comprehensive literature review. Among the benefits they identified were a reduced risk for cardiovascular, neurocognitive, and pulmonary illnesses such as asthma and influenza; amelioration of pain conditions such as rheumatic diseases and headache; decreased risk for mortality; and an improved quality of life.

Overall, “[t]he physiological responses produced by an ordinary sauna bath correspond to those produced by moderate- or high-intensity physical activity such as walking,” Jari A. Laukkanen, MD, PhD, from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä; the Department of Internal Medicine, Central Finland Health Care District, Jyväskylä; and the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, all in Finland, and colleagues write in an article published online July 31 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. In fact, the advantages of sauna bathing plus physical activity may be additive, they write.

The findings build on earlier research by the same authors linking sauna use to a decreased risk for stroke. In that study, there was an inverse relationship between frequency of weekly sauna visits and stroke rates per 1000 person-years of follow-up. The authors listed a variety of positive effects associated with sauna baths that might account for that finding, including lower blood pressure and improvements in lipid profiles, arterial stiffness, carotid intima-media thickness, and peripheral vascular resistance, as well as a reduced risk for hypertension, dementia, and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

Key Findings Emerge

In the current review, the researchers examined observational studies as well as randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials on the health effects of sauna bathing available on MEDLINE and EMBASE from the inception of those search engines until February 24, 2018. They confined the analysis to traditional Finnish sauna baths, as those have been the most widely studied to date.

In a Finnish sauna, temperatures range from 80°C to 100°C (176°F – 212°F), with 10% to 20% relative humidity. A bather will usually spend 5 to 20 minutes in the sauna and follow it with a swim, a shower, or just a cooling-off period at room temperature, the authors explain. Finnish people typically have “a sauna bath at least once per week, with the average habitual frequency being 2 to 3 times/wk.”

Several key studies included in the review showed a decreasing risk for certain acute and chronic conditions associated with greater sauna use. For example, in one study the risk ratio of hemorrhagic stroke among people who had four to seven sessions per week was 0.33 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.07-1.51) compared with people who used the sauna only once per week. In another study, four to seven sauna sessions per week was associated with a relative risk for dementia and Alzheimer disease of 0.34 (95% CI, 0.16 – 0.71) and 0.35 (95% CI, 0.14 – 0.90), respectively, compared with one session per week. Similarly, sessions of 19 minutes or more were associated with a relative risk for sudden cardiac death and all-cause mortality of 0.48 (95% CI, 0.31 – 0.75) and 0.83 (95% CI, 0.87 – 1.20), respectively, compared with sessions lasting 11 minutes.”

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August 4, 2018

Brett Jones of StrongFirst writes on Tai Chi & Learning

He doesn’t realize that he is righting about tai chi, but everything that he says about learning and about kettle bells does apply to tai chi directly. And a complete system with a varied syllabus, taught well and practiced regularly, is a way to realize all the benefits of learning using the latest scientific technics. Tai chi has been doing it for 800 years!

May 5, 2018

Can you say Cranial Sacral Therapy?

http://neurosciencenews.com/brain-waves-consciousness-8715/

August 23, 2017

For Tai Chi Students: The EvCC Fall Tai Chi Class Syllabus – share with anyone interested

(This is an Everett Community College Class. Anyone who applies, registers, and pays may attend.)

 

Instructor:                 Dennis Dilday, DC

Course:                        PEHW            102            S

Class Sessions:          Thursday, 7:20 p.m. – 9 p.m. (with a 10-minute break)

Location:                    Student Fitness Center, Room #231

Credit:                         1 credit

Office Phone:            (425) 348-5207

Course Description:

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese system of exercise, and self-defense, based on the principles of stillness overcoming motion, and softness overcoming hardness. It teaches (1) how to breath, so you can relax and manage stress, (2) how to align yourself to relate to gravity and other forces, (3) how to move in a way that is safe and strong, and (4) how to be sensitive and aware. This Class will focus on teaching Tai Chi principles by learning part of the Long Round Hand Form, and three basic, foundational, Push Hands drills.

Course Objectives:

  1. Learn the beginning of the Long Round Hand Form (Styles 1- 17)
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of basic Tai Chi terminology
  3. Describe and demonstrate both Front and Back Stance
  4. Describe and demonstrate elementary Push Hands (e.g., 7-Star Step)
  5. Learn the 5 Components or “Five Pillars” of Tai Chi

Clothing: Street clothes are fine, loose enough so that you can move, or gym clothes. Flat-soled shoes are preferred for balance purposes. Wear shoes that will not mark up the floor.

Class Policies:

  1. Arrive on time
  2. Clean is good – so is trimmed nails and little or no jewelry
  3. Do not eat or drink too much before class, but do not come on an empty stomach
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Please turn off, and put away, your Cell Phone

Course Outline:

  1. Warm ups
  2. Tai Chi walking/stepping
  3. Beginning of the Long Round Hand Form
  4. Push Hands: Fixed Step (Single Hand & 4 Directions) and 7-Star Moving Step
  5. Discuss functional aspects of Tai Chi (e.g., self-defense applications, stress management)

Evaluation:

  1. Letter grades are used
  2. ATTENDANCE is required
  3. If you are late, or absent unexcused, your grade will be lowered:

 

9- 10             classes attended = A

8                   classes attended = B

6-7                classes attended = C

Less than 6 classes attended = FAILING Grade!!!

 

 

A PASS- FAIL formatted make-up test will be offered on week 8 or 9, which will raise your Grade one level.

 

CAVEAT: The above schedule and procedures are subject to change in the event of unusual extenuating circumstances; students will be given advanced notice of changes.

 

IF YOU ARE GOING TO MISS CLASS, CALL 425-334-6944 AND LEAVE A MESSAGE

 

Cheng Tin Hung lineage – Wu Style – Tai Chi chuan (Hong Kong)

1. The Ready Style 11. Brush Knee Twist Step
2. Beginning Tai Chi Form 12. Form of Seven Stars
3. Form of Seven Stars 13. Stroke The Lute
4. Grasp the Bird’s Tail 14. Step Up, Parry and Punch
5. Single Whip 15. As If Shutting A Door
6. Flying Oblique 16. Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
7. Raise Hand Step Up 17. Cross Hands
8. White Crane Flaps It’s Wings
9. Brush Knee Twist Step
10. Form of Seven Stars Left

 

 

“Think and enquire where does the final purpose lie? It lies in seeking longevity and keeping a youthful appearance.”

                                                            – Song of the 13 Tactics (4th Tai Chi Classic)

 

 

“What has taken China thousands of years to build can not be grasped by theft. We must, instead, earn it to possess it.”             – Carl Jung

August 22, 2014

From Water to Waving Hands In Clouds; Health, Healing & The Fascial Connection

Qi

Qi

 

An interesting article connecting concepts from Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture/acupressure) and the internal martial arts such as Tai Chi together by way of our recent revelations about the structure and function of the myo-fascial system of connecting tissue found throughout the body. It’s a good read and helps hint at the genius of developers of Tai Chi and those who master the body-mind connection inherent in the practice of any type of so-called “body work.”

Here (this Blog) I’ve talked about Exercise, Energy Medicine, and Stretching; I’ve talked about water (often) and I’ve talked about Tai chi (endlessly), and of course the role of diet and nutrition. Their importance can’t be overstated and their impacts are so broad and all-incompassing that to miss the opportunities for health and wellbeing that they offer seems a terrible shame. Today their gifts are needed as much as they ever have been – there is a lot of unnecessary sickness and suffering going on.

The point here is that these options (which I live to help make available) are all inter-related. They each affect the other: a conscious water policy isn’t just about water; doing Tai Chi isn’t just about getting exercise; and taking whole food supplements isn’t just about getting your fruits and vegetables.

In Tai Chi we teach that when you practice all aspects (Hand Form, Weapons Forms, Applications, Internal Strength and Push Hands) you benefit from the integration in ways that practicing only one or two aspects won’t give. With a full syllabus you have a complete system of exercise and self-defense, with all the attendant health benefits to numerous to even count.

And while in Chiropractic we talk about keeping things simple by addressing the Physical, Chemical and Mental/Emotional aspects as if they were separate, we know that they are not. Each is as much one as the other, but that’s a conversation much more difficult to have:-)

December 3, 2013

Tai chi more effective than yoga?

ATT00007

Read all about it here: The Times of India…

The Everett Community College Tai chi class will start soon. You can get registration information here.

And the Monday night Peak Health & Fitness Tai chi class is going great with a steady stream of new folks and a growing number of “advanced” practitioners.

March 16, 2013

A Force For Health

Health Expressed!

Health Expressed!

Escape Fire airs tonight!

I haven’t directly shared this newsletter before but have referred to it often. This one has a lot in it that may be of interest to you or someone that you know.

Enjoy!

April 7, 2012

Dr. Oz does Tai Chi

Well, I don’t know about that, but he does apparently endorse the practice. Here is the quote introducing the World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day site where there is an extensive reference list of the health benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong. It’s a surprisingly long list. Check it out!

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.
Harvard Medical Health Publication, 05/09

Timmothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, was interviewed in one of the fitness magazines last year. He talked about getting the greatest possible benefit from the least amount of time in doing whatever you do.

Tai chi is an example of getting a huge number of benefits for every minute spent doing the practice. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing. Here (Dr. Oz) the connection is to the health-giving benefits of the chemicals released while practicing Tai chi.

Unfortunately, few will take the time to find a good Tai chi teacher, learn a traditional long Form, and then practice it long enough to even begin to experience what Tai chi offers. What’s most unfortunate about that is the fact that once you put out that initial effort of whatever length of time, energy and money – most can learn a Form in 6-8 months, but I have taught people the entire Form in 3 – your daily practice needs only take 15-20 minutes. By that I mean that’s how long it takes to do the Form. Many people do it twice a day. Some take the time to teach themselves the mirror-image Form so they actually have two. Done one after the other you have 30-40 minutes of the best exercise on the planet.

We will be in Legion Park doing our right-handed long round Form this year for World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day. That’s 10 AM April 28th. The public is welcome to join us to watch or participate. Rehearsals are Saturdays and Sundays at 8 AM between now and then. You are welcome to come by and learn a little about Tai chi.

DrD

September 9, 2011

The Tai Chi Front Stance & Functional Rehabilitation Exercise

The Front Stance occurs fourteen times in the first section of the Hand Form.

Fourteen times the hip flexor muscles are stretched. I have talked elsewhere about why that is important in relation to walking and bending and lifting, etc. The right and left hip are lined up so that one is not ahead of the other. The front foot is straight in front of the associated hip; the rear foot is straight behind the corresponding hip: sometimes pointing straight ahead, sometimes at a 45-degree angle out to the side (think of the difference in flexibility required).

Fourteen times the hip external rotator muscles are stretched to normal length. These are very commonly found to be overly tight and shortened resulting in loss of hip flexibility – think Piriformis Syndrome. This is now recognized by the experts as a BIG factor in lower back pain cases. I may loose you here but just realize that if you consistently ask the low back (or the knee) to do (in terms of motion) what the hip should be doing, you will have functional problems, which leads to pain somewhere eventually.

Fourteen times the ankle is flexed stretching the calve muscles. This is a critical functional requirement of the squatting motion: think bending and lifting or sitting.

Fourteen times the ilio-tibial band (IT band) running along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee is stretched. An overly tight IT band is a common finding associated with knee, hip, pelvic and lower back pain syndromes and complaints.

In the front stance almost all of the weight is on the front foot, the front knee is directly over the foot (think knee rule – you are practicing it). This position is half way to a lunge and feels similar. More importantly for most people and for a long time, this position is a balance challenge.

It is definitely a strength challenge. The longer you hold the stance, the greater the challenge.

In the front stance the spinal column is aligned as it would be if you were standing straight up (think neutral spine – you are practicing it). It is however inclined naturally so that it is in a straight line and an extension of the rear leg. Maintaining that neutral spine position while in the Front Stance trains all the muscles fashionably referred to as the “core.”

Because of all of the alignments referred to above, all of the tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, cartilage, etc.) are properly relating to each other in terms of stress, stretch and leverage. In this position, issues of shortness, weakness, imbalance, and connection (functional integration) can be brought into better harmony…

Because the Tai Chi Hand Form is done slowly (usually), you can gently and carefully (think safely!) ease into and out of the Front Stance. This deliberate, gradual transitioning facilitates all manner of physiological processes, including blood flow and lymph circulation.

Practiced as a static posture, Front Stance can help rehabilitate knees, ankles, low backs, hips, and thighs: it can improve balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility.

All of the above is found in just the first section of the Tai Chi Hand Form – and that is just the Front Stance!! The Box squat occurs (or should if you do it well) seventeen times, the Back Stance occurs twelve times, and one-legged stance occurs at least nine times. There are twenty-two Styles in the first section of the Hand Form.

There are 118 Styles (many of them repeated many times, of course) in the full Hand Form. It takes about 15 minutes (it can take a little less or up to 30 minutes). Imagine how many times the Front Stance occurs; the Back Stance, one-legged stance and the Box Squat motion. Imagine the accumulative effects of learning to do that Form and the benefits of a regular daily practice. Hard to imagine? Try the Front Stance and find out how it feels after a few minutes. Then try Back Stance and moving back and forth. Then try walking. Before you know it you will be amazed at what you can do and how easy it is to do what used to be hard.

There is nothing more “functional.”

Lastly, as with any Tai Chi stance, or other practice, moving or static, you have a chance to work on relaxation – especially while under the stress of demanding discomfort and fatigue. You get to work on breathing through this discomfort and noticing all that can be relaxed while at the same time maintaining the posture or stance, either in static or dynamic mode. This may be the single most important feature of your Tai Chi practice. Nothing is more fundamental than breathing – and proper breathing is a requirement of relaxation.

August 13, 2011

Index of Blog Posts

/////////NEW PATIENT VIDEO//////////

Hand Form: An Index of Martial Art Techniques

“I cannot describe how happy you made me last FRI….was thinking how bad that I wanted you to adjust me! Last time that I asked Doc he said it was all muscle…wanted me to see [DELETED] D.O. in Edmonds…I did and think it was a real scam…felt worse and paid $240….after you adjusted me…I felt better right away and it was such a relief…had a good massage on MONDAY….I barely have any pain now at all and I actually was using RX pain killers….just want to say a big THANK YOU AND APPRECIATE YOU!” Sharon

Chiropractic

Activator Methods Technique
Chiropractic Adjustments “Articulate”  The Joints

Bad Apples
Recurrent Low Back Pain- Research on Effective Treatment
“I just bent over.”
Modified Chinese Walls Squats AKA The Functional Squat
Chiropractic approach
And kids…
And tai chi (article in Dynamic Chiropractic) with Video of Ian Cameron
Slosberg Handout on Chiropractic and Exercise (Front Stance photos)
Chiropractic. What’s it good for – Upper Cervical Techniques- D.D. Palmer
Dr. Weil Endorses Activator Method Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic/Back Pain Related
Sitting Postures: Part 2, The Postures
Bending & Lifting
Neutral Spine
Hip Crease/Modified Chinese Wall Squat – risk for Low Back Pain
Video clips

And Rehab Principles

Tai chi and Zhang San Feng
Basic Spine Exercise (LB ROM #1 & #2)
Basic Spine Exercises (Dorsal Twist) Basic Spine Exercises (Sphynx)
Basic Spine Exercises (Million Dollar Neck Exercise)
Basic Spine Exercises (Cat-Camel) w/ link to YouTube demo video
Multifidi, Dr. Slosberg, Stuart McGill “It’s all there.”
A Story by a Tai Chi teacher, a very interesting story
Natural History of Back Pain:: Slosberg Handout on Chiropractic and Exercise (Front Stance photos)
Chiropractic, Tai Chi and the “Line” (The Vertical Axis)
The Fitness Line

Diet & Nutrition Related

The COSTCO connection
Beginning Tai Chi Style for Safe Bending & Lifting
Old News
Green Tea is Good Stuff
Take Your Anti-Inflammatory (Diet)
Meat or meat?
This stuff grows like weeds in our back yard
A S.A.D. story
Coconut oil article
Supplements, yes or no? Which ones?
Dehydration
Wellness Programs-Dr. Sachs
Gum Health/Prevention Plus with Dr. Eggleton
Nutritional Research or…
Keeping it Simple (4 Doctors Video clip)
A patient chewed me out last week
Dr. Colin Campbell and The China Study
Water Quality (Puget Sound)
More on meat
Acid – Alkaline balance and the diet (Government study)
TIME magazine on the value of fruits and vegetables in the diet
Why Organic? And “The Dirty Dozen”
Multi-vitamins, the risk (Annals of Internal Medicine article)
High Blood Pressure and herbal tea – a Government study
Miracle at a Wisconsin High School
Another Government study on neutralizing and acid-producing diet

General Health

“I just feel better.”

Inflammation Reduced By Berry Juice Compounds

Your Heart and Your Diet

Obesity and Chronic Pain
General Health; (walking and risk of death) Dr Oz
Sustainability and general health
Chiropractic. What’s it good for – Upper Cervical Techniques- D.D. Palmer
Sustainability
Miracle at a Wisconsin High School
Sitting Postures Background
Sitting Postures: (the postures plus mention of the full squat)
Gym Ball Recall
Tai chi and weight loss
Chai Tea

Mental Health

Mental health and Corporate Wellness
Taoist influences
Relaxation verses Meditation
Tai chi video clip
Mindfulness
Meditation, TM, and Centerpointe
Tai chi and weight loss

Rehab

Rehab and Corporate Wellness
Neck Injury Rehab and the Tai Chi Spear Form
Ergonomics
The Functional Squat
Stress Management
Chinese wall squats (video clips)
Tai chi as functional fitness (with videos)
Multifidi, Dr. Slosberg, Stuart McGill “It’s all there.”
Slosberg Handout on Chiropractic and Exercise/Natural History of Back Pain (Front Stance photos)
CrossFit Article, “What is fitness?” – mention of Progressions and perspective
Functional Exercise and the concept of “carry over” or… Lessons learned in a Montana Fire Camp
Chiropractic, Tai Chi and the “Line” (The Vertical Axis)
The Fitness Line
Tai Chi Back Stance
Tai Chi Front Stance

The Medical Approach to “Health Care”

Where is the Health in Health Care?
The More It Costs, The More You Save!
And Weight Loss
Tylenol is really good for some things
Be careful who you listen to….
The China Study
The Medicated Child
Shingles and Tai chi: A Randomized Controlled Trial – A look at how to look at health and disease

Tai Chi Related

Tai Chi and Corporate Wellness
Tai Chi: Mental and Emotion Benefits For All Age Groups
Why Do We Practice Tai Chi
Arterial Compliance Improved with Tai Chi
Dr. Oz Does Tai Chi

Tai Chi and Insomnia
Tai Chi and Depression
Tai Chi in the Workplace-Mayo Clinic Research
Is Tai Chi the Perfect Exercise?
Tai Chi and Fybromialgia
Ian Cameron clip
Zhang San Feng
Tai Chi and Depression
Taoist influence
Relaxation verses Meditation
Tai chi and Rehab Principles (Spear Form)
As a Path to Health
Tai Chi and the Financial Crisis (simple & sustainable)
Tai Chi and Fall prevention
Martial video clips
Ian Cameron clip
Long Round Hand Form video clip
Grand Master Dan Docherty video clip (Hand Form and some push hands)
Multifidi, Dr. Slosberg, Stuart McGill “It’s all there.”
Tai chi in the news, and it’s all good
Tai Chi and the research at Tuft’s University
Functional Exercise and the concept of “carry over” or… Lessons learned in a Montana Fire Camp
Shingles and Tai chi: A Randomized Controlled Trial – A look at how to look at health and disease
Tai Chi and Diabetes….
Tai chi or Qigong?
A great tai chi article from the International Herald Tribune with a quote from my teacher’s Master, Cheng Tin Hung
Tai chi and weight loss
Chiropractic, Tai Chi and the “Line” (The Vertical Axis)
Tai Chi and Heart Health
Tai Chi and the Breath
Tai Chi and the Aging Brain
Tai Chi Back Stance
Tai Chi Front Stance

Work Place Wellness

Evidence-Based Workplace Wellness

Gallup Gets It!

The Rise of Workplace Wellness: Fitness Journal

Workplace Wellness Considerations

Safety Training Follow Through

Reducing Low Back Injury Risk – Measuring Success in Prevention Programs

Corporate Wellness Tai Chi: Your Best Investment
Obesity-A Risk Factor For Chronic Pain
Mayo Clinic Research Recommends Tai Chi in Workplace Wellness Programs
Presenteeism
Workplace Injury Prevention (Leading Indicators)
Wellness Programs, are they worth it?
Workplace Wellness Menu Options
Workplace Wellness Programs – Simple & Sustainable
Fitness After Fifty: Progressions Are The Key
Safe Bending & lifting
Yoga Journal, A Caution (neutral spine and attitude)
The Natural Step, Fourth Principle
Eckhart Tolle on the breath
Fitness Goals For The Rest Of Us
Rehab Principles (work on the basics)
Path to Health (the process)
Fall prevention
Gym Ball Recall
How to stick to healthy habits
Tai chi as functional fitness
Tai chi as a simple and sustainable option verses a typical “20-minute circuit”
The Fitness Line

Sustainability

Multifidi, Dr. Slosberg, Stuart McGill “It’s all there.”
Motivation – Or What You Can Do With Your Health
“Tai chi and Qigong will play an important role in global awakening.” E. Tolle, A New Earth
World Tai chi and Qigong Day video
What’s the point? You can’t do prevention in a month, or… the benefits of a healthy lifestyle
Shingles and Tai chi: A Randomized Controlled Trial – A look at how to look at health and disease
Tai chi and weight loss
Chiropractic, Tai Chi and the “Line” (The Vertical Axis)

For more information go to www.doctordilday.com or call (425) 348-5207

June 20, 2011

Tai Chi Is An Anti-Inflammatory!!

Single Whip Style (Posture)

From the folks at: World Tai Chi & Qigong Day

Qigong’ helps cancer patients,
Science Alert – University of Sydney, Australia, Friday, 27 May 2011

The improvements included greater physical, functional, social and emotional wellbeing, and enhanced cognitive functioning.

Cancer patients who used a 5000-year-old combination of gentle exercise and meditation experienced significantly higher wellbeing levels, improved cognitive functioning and less inflammation compared to a control group, new University of Sydney research has found.

Dr Byeongsang Oh, a clinical senior lecturer at the Sydney Medical School who led the study, said the reduced inflammation in patients who practised medical Qigong, a form of traditional Chinese medicine, was particularly significant.

Read entire article at Science Alert

May 18, 2011

Beginning Tai Chi Style for Safe Bending & Lifting

Master Wu Tunan doing tai chi at the age of 100 – something to think about (Not our style of tai chi BTW, but here is a 1937 clip of someone doing Wu Style Tai Chi (nearly the same as ours).

Tai Chi Hand Forms are a series of “Styles” performed in a sequence. Think of Styles as Postures – identical to Yoga “Poses.” Most people think of Tai chi as a continuous movement practice: holding static (still) Postures is also a part of Tai Chi practice. In Tai Chi a “Style” encompasses both the static posture as well as a movement which includes an “opening” and a “closing’ component – as well as other aspects.

Three keys to safe bending and lifting are the Neutral Spine, Knee Rule, and Hip Crease (described in detail in this post). Here I will describe how these critical concepts and principles of safe biomechanics are trained in just one of the Tai Chi Hand Form Styles, “Beginning Tai Chi Style.” (Incidently, this is the third Style in the sequence, not the first: correct breathing, focused awareness and standing up straight come first:-))

From a neutral standing position, feet under hips, upright with an elongated spine, and the arms hanging naturally at the side, the arms come up and out to the front, back toward the body and down the front of the body, palms down; as the hands descend, the knees bend (following the knee rule), the hips sink back and down, and the spine stays in neutral alignment (straight but with the natural curves – think of a Bow as in Bow and Arrow – the Bow has a curve or curves but it also has a straight line).

The "Line" (Ignore the hands, this is not Beginning Tai Chi Style)

As the arms go up and move through their circular arc, the shoulders relax and sink. As the hands and hips simultaneously descend, ending their decent at the same time, the hands separate. They follow a path around the body and back, eventually circling back around to the front – as the hands separate, the weight of the body is shifted to one side (in the Right Handed Form it would be to the right).

With the weight shifted to one side and the hands as far back as flexibility allows, the hands now move forward. As the hands go forward the foot without weight on it steps forward. The leg remains straight, and the foot is set down without any weight on it – the heels are remain shoulder width apart, in other words the foot steps straight ahead. This is Back Stance.

Back Stance: Neutral Spine w/ Hip Crease

The body and the left foot rotate to the right 45* while the hands trace an arc to the right ending at the right hip. All the weight is still on the right leg. From this position the weight shifts from the right leg to the left leg as the right hand pushes straight forward and the left hand accompanies it.

When all the weight rests on the left leg, the right (rear) leg is straight, the heel remains on the ground – the force of the shift comes from pushing through that rear heel. The spine is still in a straight “line.” The neck and head are also an extention of this “line” (you are looking as if over a set of glasses, not tilting your head back). The nose, the right hand, and the knee are in a the same plane.

This is Front Stance, the foot turning part is situational: not part of basic Front Stance. This is also the position of static posture for training this Style.

Front Stance: Neutral Spine & Knee Rule (Ignore the hands, this is not Beginning Tai Chi Style)

By adding the breathing, focused attention and conscious relaxation, and the fact that the hamstring muscles are stretched in the Back Stance and the hip flexor and calf muscles are stretched in Front Stance, you can see that there is a lot going on here.

I mention all this detail only to illustrate that in just this one Style at the very beginning of the Hand Form, you have the opportunity to train and practice correct lifting body mechanics, to learn whole body movement, to develop flexibility, strength, muscular endurance, balance, coordination and alignment. You can learn this in your first hour of Tai Chi practice – most of it anyway. Enough to practice your self at home afterward.

With practice you would get better, more relaxed, more flexible, stronger. As you gain confidence and competence, you can bend the knee more, and get even more flexible and even stronger.

This Style teaches so much. Once you have learned this Style you can practice Tai Chi walking as s drill. Moving from Back Stance to Front Stance, stepping, shifting the weight by pushing off the back heel, and learning to use the whole body to move. When it comes time to bend and lift you will be safer in every way.

By practicing this Style along with Tai Chi walking you will gradually discover all the areas of your body that tense up unnecessarily during these movements, and you will consciously relax them – through practice. Eventually, you will cease to tense up any muscles that are not required during the movement. Think about how efficient you will become; think of the energy you will save.

By stressing correct alignment during this practice you will develop the habit of neutral spine, the habit of following the knee rule, and the habit of the hip crease. These will become unconscious, automatic and normal for you.

Consider that in a 15 minute Long Round Hand Form you will step forward and back into and out of front and back stance many many times from all different angles and with dozens of simultaneous arm and hand gestures. The Form builds in complexity so in the beginning – before Beginning Tai Chi Style, you learn abdominal breathing, you learn to stand up straight – extending the head upward while keeping the chin down; and extending the tailbone downward without reversing the normal lower spine lordotic curve. You learn to have just a little bit of Yang in your Yin – the Tai Chi at Rest Style.

As the Form progresses the demand for flexibility, balance, coordination and strength increases gradually. By the time you get to the kick section, standing on one leg moving the other leg and both arms while turning the body is within your capability: a challenge, but possible.

The mental demands of remembering what comes next offer a means of focusing your attention. Being present is critical to tai chi practice and to safe bending and lifting. You have to pay attention. And that becomes a habit as well.

BTW, I didn’t mention how this one beginning style also helps to improve your shoulder range of motion – especially stretching out the front of the shoulders and chest where most people are tight from slumping over computer screens and steering wheels. Think about what 15 minutes of Tai Chi Hand Form could do for you.

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