I have studied and practiced tai chi from time to time for many years, but I am clearly not an expert. I have enough private experience to share how tai chi helps to me treat in different ways. In tai chi, perfection is not necessary or obligatory for benefit. This is one of the most amazing things about practicing this traditional Chinese martial art. I learn tai chi forms and exercises, how to breathe and relax my body, where to focus my thoughts, and how to let my mind settle comfortably as I learn, grow and practice.
Recently, I fell off a curb that I didn’t notice while walking fast. As much as I wished at the time that I had only sprained my ankle, emergency room x-rays showed a fractured 5th metatarsal (little toe bone) halfway to my foot. This is a common fracture if you twist your leg in a certain way. Ordinary or not, I wasn’t happy and I was also in pain.
As an avid kicker or someone who likes to push the limits of flexibility with kicks, I realized that my kicking and kickboxing training had been put on hold for at least five to six weeks. I dutifully put on the “boot” of the provided emergency room and followed the orthopedic surgeon. Luckily, the boot is the only treatment required for now. However, I felt a little depressed about not being able to practice martial arts.
That is, until I remembered that Tai Chi offers many options depending on your ability. Suddenly I am refreshed. All I had to do was move my standing tai chi practice to a chair for a while so I could continue with this martial art that I love. Through my practice over the past few weeks, I have realized the benefits of tai chi for my personal healing.
Here my Reasons why Tai Chi helps me heal:
- Options: To be honest, I love watching groups of people practice tai chi. This group rhythm reminds me of a small wave running over a serene pool and inspires me to want to know more. When I broke my leg, I was frustrated that I couldn’t be part of the “wave” anymore. I felt that if I wanted to practice tai chi, I would basically convicted to the seated/chair version of Taijiquan! Who wants it? Well, I soon realized that doing upper body movements from a chair requires just as much thought and intention as standing tai chi (maybe even more) and provides the same amazing benefits. When I practiced tai chi while sitting, I felt the same as when I practiced tai chi while standing. And my leg just rested. No pain. No discomfort. I also do tai chi.
- Breath: The breath benefits of tai chi for me, whether standing or sitting, are simple and true. Firstly, Tai Chi breathing relaxes me and at the same time gives me strength. By learning to inhale, sticking out your stomach, you will be able to fill the breathing chamber more completely. Try to take a deep breath, sticking out your stomach, and then exhale slowly, and you will understand what I mean. Many find it difficult to relax through pain or injury through breathing, but you will find relief with this simple technique.
- Slow movementsA: There is no need to rush with tai chi. Slow movements allow you to do things at your own pace. Every movement is thoughtful and purposeful, and you learn it while sitting or standing. You can practice upper body skills while sitting and then when you are healthy again you will have a solid foundation to which you will add your lower body. or pain. I love kickboxing and other martial arts, but only tai chi gives me a sense of accomplishment when I need to heal.
- Hybrid: I hope my foot injury is almost healed after five weeks in boots. I know my ankle will be stiff when all is said and done. If your illness requires you to practice tai chi while sitting, know that you can return to standing tai chi at your own pace. Even now I stand more as my leg continues to heal, but sometimes I still sit and work out. Until I hear from the podiatrist that my foot has healed, I continue to wear the boot and practice sitting/standing hybrid tai chi to my own comfort level.
- Continuity: Continuity in the training and practice of martial arts is important. The worst thing about coping with injury or illness is when you think you can’t do what you love. If you break the continuity or habit of practice and training, you will never return to it and thus lose all of the tremendous benefits that tai chi offers for both health and healing. Do not give up. Don’t stop training. Continue your martial art journey to the best of your ability.
I share my personal story of how tai chi helps me heal. Healing is individual for each person and in different situations. I use tai chi breathing in treating other injuries when I feel anxious or restless and I have used it as a way to cope when I had trouble breathing due to Covid. While some may argue that tai chi has no “healing power”, I know the opposite is true. Tai Chi gives me the skills and techniques to improve my health or fight illness or injury. It’s a healing power, in my book.
Try Tai Chi. It is a great addition to other styles of martial arts, but of course it is an effective martial art in its own right. Along with the benefits I have mentioned here, the martial use of Tai Chi is effective. Behind every beautiful smooth movement is a protective technique that works in real applications. Tai Chi improves not only your health, but also your personal safety. This is a win-win.
I hope you are well. If not, practice taijiquan while you’re convalescing or coping with chronic illnesses. Remember, perfection is not required to be useful. Over time, you will develop your own reasons for how tai chi helps you heal.
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