How Tai Chi and Qigong Helps the Physically Challenged
You’ve heard this before “Tai Chi Chuan is for everyone-all ages and abilities”. Numerous studies conducted have shown some of the benefits of practicing Tai Chi and Qigong over a period of time can help a person’s balance and flexibility, relaxation, increase their cognitive ability, and strengthen core muscle groups. It has also been known to lower a person’s blood pressure and the risk for heart disease, and provide joint movement to alleviate arthritis pain.
But how does Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong help the physically challenged? Can Tai Chi stop or slow down tremors in MS and Parkinson’s disease patients? How can flexibility and balance be improved when you are in a wheelchair or use a walker? How does it help people who have suffered the effects of a stroke?
The answer: Adaptability!
Most of the Tai Chi and qigong forms and exercises can be scaled down by sitting in a chair (or wheelchair). Instead of shifting the weight from one leg to the other in standing postures, the weight shift is from side to side (one buttocks to the other). Arm movements are slow and controlled. If using a walker Tai Chi stepping is modified with the foot movements. Pause between steps to coordinate the arm movements with the stepping. And most importantly, every movement and posture is coordinated with the breath. The 10 Essential Points of Tai Chi Ten Essential Points of Tai Chi still apply whether you are seated or using a walker.
In addition to adapting the steps and movements, the person will benefit from the meditative aspects of Tai Chi and Qigong. After all, Tai Chi Chuan is labeled “meditation in motion” – whether you are sitting or standing.
With consistent practice Chi flow is developed and expressed through the movements; with adjustments to the forms, the healing aspects of Tai Chi and Qigong could have a positive impact on the symptoms of the physically challenged.
Here are a few Tai Chi postures or exercises to try seated:
– Cloud Hands (Waving Hands Like Clouds)
– Crouching Tiger (Push)
– Forming the Ball and Carrying the Ball (side to side)
– Lifting the Sky (courtesy of Anthony Korahais)