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Having Knee Trouble? Tai Chi Could Help

Recently I started a Tai Chi class, and quickly became a big fan. Our class meets in the local park and it has become a nice highlight of my week. I was surprised to read a story that Tufts Medical Center has just endorsed Tai Chi for help with knee osteoarthritis. They said it worked better than stretching and wellness sessions. If you have ever checked out a Tai Chi class you can see why this might be a very workable solution.

There has been a lot of research done on the health rewards of Tai Chi. A few years ago I read about research at the University of California Irvine which attracted a lot of students, staff and faculty, and allowed the professors to study the health benefits.

How Tai Chi Works

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice that has been described as a gentle way to release stress and anxiety, while improving flexibility and balance.

The class stands in a loose group facing the instructor and follows him through a session of flowing hand and arm motions that never stop moving as they focus on the poses and their breathing. There is also some shifting of the body weight and leg movements as the students learn cloud, tea pot, and moon poses, to name just a few of the many poses.

As a novice I know only a few of the poses, but my instructor is a gem. He is totally non-critical as he eases all of us into the class and we soon find ourselves moving and meditating, completely present in the class. All of the self conscious hesitation quickly vanishes as the instructor draws everybody into the class. Later talking to other participants, I found they all agreed. This was a totally easy way to stay fit and to be drawn into the moment.

At the end everyone leaves smiling, probably a little bit healthier and fitter, and definitely happier. Stress has been dropped, balance improved and overall fitness upped in what seems like an effortless class. For me Tai Chi is like a more vertical version of yoga. The same mind body stress release qualities show up every time.

If that intrigues you, or you need help with knee osteoarthritis, you might check for local classes.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of abg_colegio

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