LymeOnline editor Francesca Evans joins Lym Tai Chi to discover the health benefits of the exercise
IF you’re looking to try a low impact exercise class, to increase flexibility, balance and co-ordination while reducing stress and anxiety – Tai Chi may be just the answer.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition, originally developed for self-defence in the 13th century. Often described as “meditation in motion”, it has since has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health benefits.
The exercise involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner accompanied by deep breathing. It can be done by anyone at any age, helping to strengthen your physical health, improve your balance and create a sense of wellbeing.
Lym Tai Chi is currently offering two classes a week at St Michael’s Parish Church Hall and the Masonic Hall in Lyme Regis, led by Ann Yates, a registered instructor with the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain who has been practising for nearly 10 years.
Ann invited me along to try out one of her classes last week. I had never experienced Tai Chi before so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was met with a warm welcome from both Ann and her friendly class, with members – some of whom had been practising Tai Chi for years – keen to tell me more about the exercise and its benefits.
The slow pace of Tai Chi may give some the impression that it is not all that challenging, but as Ann told me, sometimes doing things slowly can be more difficult than you think.
I began to understand what she meant as we started the class with a long warm-up; slowing everything down when you’re used to modern, fast-paced living does take a certain level of focus but Ann encouraged us to be mindful and focus our attention on the here and now.
After the warm up, Ann led us through several Qi Gong movements and I was able to mirror her actions to make it easier as a beginner.
The more advanced members of the class then showed me ‘the form’ – a series of movements they practise in unison.
Ann took me through the first few movements, which demonstrated just how much precision is needed for each one. She said it can take up to a year to learn the entire sequence, but even after this there is always more to learn or improve upon with Tai Chi.
I found the entire class incredibly calming. I had arrived after an early start at work and with a busy schedule ahead of me, but after just a few minutes, the stresses and worries of everyday life seemed to dissipate as I put all my focus into following the specific movements.
It also felt great to get up and be active, rather than just sitting at my desk, but without having to push myself to extreme limits. I left feeling energised and focussed, rather than exhausted.
If you want to give Tai Chi a go or find out more about its health benefits, call Ann on 07840 004 014 or email email@example.com
No experience is required and everyone is welcome.