Newsletter #67 - March 2007
In this issue:
-- From me to you, by Dr Lam
-- Practising taichi: plateaus and ‘aha’ moments, by Sybil Wong
-- Enjoy the view along the way: some tips on teaching tai chi, by Dr Janet Cromb
-- The First International Conference of Tai Chi for Health: a summary, by Pat Lawson
-- How to practice tai chi effectively, by Dr Monica Cho
-- What tai chi means to me, by Sue Binkley
-- Evaluation of the benefits of Sun-style tai chi classes for patients with vestibular hypofunction, a summary of the report by Jenny Burton
-- Winner of our ‘Widest age range’ competition, by Ralph Dehner
-- A good laugh promotes better health, by Dr Bob McBrien
As promised, in this issue of the newsletter we feature three of the morning talks given at the January annual workshop in Sydney. Our annual workshops are the highlight of the year for all those involved in them. The workshops are designed to share knowledge and skills. Most of the time is spent training and learning in small, personal classes. There are also many activities for all to learn, interact and network with each other. Each morning begins with a talk that contains useful material for tai chi enthusiasts of all levels.
The June annual workshop is from 4-10 June, in Terre Haute, Indiana. You can get more information about it from the workshop calendar page. If you want to attend, please enrol as soon as you can to ensure a place in your chosen class. Please also tell your friends about it.
Sybil, a pharmacist, and Janet, a family physician, are both instructors with Better Health Tai Chi Chuan (my school) in Sydney. They are great teachers, love their tai chi and are also good friends. The talk Sybil gave was on how to learn effectively while Janet’s was about how to teach effectively – like yin and yang, the two talks complement each other.
Pat Lawson shares with us her summary of the Tai Chi for Health conference in Korea last December.
Monica gives us some hints on how to practice tai chi effectively.
Sue, a sufferer of post polio syndrome has an amazing story to tell about how tai chi has transformed her life.
Jenny reports on a most interesting and useful study she has been involved in, teaching the Tai Chi for Arthritis program to people who suffer from dizziness and vertigo – a common and frightening problem that I encounter a lot in my work as a family physician. They have found Tai Chi for Arthritis to be an effective tool in controlling their dizziness and vertigo, while at the same time, improving their general health.
By the way, recently I met a psychiatrist who used my Tai Chi for Arthritis instructional DVD to learn the program. He told me that as a result of learning it, he has become less anxious and more focused at his work – and then at the end of our conversation he added, almost as though it was a surprise to him, ‘the arthritic pain in my knees seems to be better too’!
Also in this newsletter, Ralph Dehner, who was the judge of our recent ‘Widest age gap’ competition, announces the winner and Dr Bob gives us some examples of ‘positive humor’, humor that promotes better health, from what he believes is its richest source – children.
This month’s special offer
In March, when you buy a copy of the Tai Chi for Arthritis DVD, you’ll get a Tai Chi for Arthritis wall chart, worth AU$8.95 or US$6.50, free of charge.
The 80-minute DVD contains a complete exercise program designed to help people with arthritis to gain better control of their condition. It is easy to learn, safe and requires no prior tai chi experience. The large wall chart outlines the Tai Chi for Arthritis movements with photos and descriptions. It is a useful resource for students or for instructors to place in a prominent position for their students' easy reference.
For more information about these products and to order your copy, go to the online shop. Please quote SP0307 in the comments section to get your free wall chart.
Product review of the month
Congratulations to Sarah Houghton of Timaru, New Zealand for winning a tai chi music CD for her review of the Tai Chi for Arthritis wall chart:
‘This wall chart has been a hot seller in my class. I am about to do another order. Participants have found it most useful for something to take home and jog their memories for their homework. It is being hung on doors, walls, garages, trees and stuck to moveable boards. A product that is inspiring homework is always great!’Thanks Sarah for your review.We would like to send you a tai chi music CD for being our winner. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and give us your postal address.
Enter your review of any of my products in the Forum and you will have a chance to win a tai chi music CD too.
Upcoming workshopsby Dr Lam
March 24-25, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Explore the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
May 11-12, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Therapeutic Tai Chi for Physical Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapy Professionals
May 17-18, Bradenton, FL, USA
Explore the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
May 19-20, Bradenton, FL, USA
Tai Chi 4 Kidz Instructor's Training Workshop
June 2-3, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
Tai Chi for Osteoporosis Instructor's Training
June 4-9, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
One Week Tai Chi Workshop
Find out about other Tai Chi for Health workshops conducted around the world by me or my master trainers on the workshop calendar page on the website.
Yours in tai chi,
Paul Lam, MD
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We live in a fast society and have come to expect things to happen quickly. Being constantly bombarded by advertisements that promise quick results for little effort, we come to have very unrealistic expectations.
When we try to learn a new skill, there is an expectation that if we put in effort, then we will improve steadily. Initially, we are very keen and want to improve quickly. We practice and may initially be rewarded by improvements so we keep practising. We may continue to improve for a while, then, sooner or later, we will reach a stage where nothing seems to happen. We respond by working even harder, we may get some improvement or maybe still nothing happens. Assuming that you have found the right teacher with a teaching style that works with you, why is this happening?
As adults, we have the expectation that hard work will yield steady improvement. We are often disappointed this does not happen. Eventually, we may lose interest and give up altogether.
People often say that it is easier for children to learn. Children do seem to pick up new skills more easily and painlessly than adults. There are many reasons for this but I believe that one of the reasons is that most children will keep performing a task if it’s fun. They are not looking for improvements the same way adults do. If they enjoy doing something, they will keep doing it because it gives them pleasure, with the end result that they improve at that task without them realizing it. In short, they are enjoying the journey, not just striving for the goal.
Of course practising will result in improvement but it is important to remember that improvements often come in steps with plateaus rather than as a continuous upward slope.
Plateaus are times when skills we learn are assimilated into our subconscious, into our body’s kinetic memory and like a spring, coiled to project us into the next level when the time is right.
Plateaus can be shortened by various means, eg depth classes, reading books, discussions with your teacher or other taichi practitioners, but by and large these plateaus are inevitable and a necessary part of the journey.
There is a saying that when the student is ready, the master will appear. This master can take may forms: it may be something you happen to read or see, a demonstration you happen to watch, it maybe something your teacher said, a comment from a fellow instructor, even a question from one of your students.
Some of us call these ‘Aha’ moments. What seemed difficult and impossible to achieve before is now easy and makes perfect sense and you wonder why you did not understand it earlier! When these moments happen you know that you have reached another level.
While these ‘Aha’ moments are sweet and wonderful, we should remember to not be disheartened by the plateaus because they are normal part of the journey.
When you are on an inevitable plateau remember that improvements will happen sooner or later. Just keep practising and enjoy what you are doing. Do what children do, don’t just worry about reaching the end of the journey but enjoy the journey itself because this is a wonderful journey that has no end. If you accept that there is always more to learn, you will always continue to improve.
A student once asked his master ‘How long will it take for me to learn all there is to learn about taichi?’ The master answered: ‘That is quite a difficult question to answer, so let me answer by asking you a question. How long do you expect to live for?’
Relax, have fun, keep practising and enjoy the wonderful taichi journey. May you have short plateaus and frequent ‘Aha’ moments!
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I would like to start this discussion about teaching tai chi with a brief anecdote. Many years ago I had to make a career choice. Those of you who are of a certain vintage will know that in the early 70s teaching was a clear and socially acceptable career for us girls. So I looked about me at all the teachers I knew and them at the students I knew and decided then and there – I would never be a teacher. I just didn’t have the skill set required. So I proceeded along my chosen career path, graduated and was let loose into the wide world. Imagine my bemusement a few years down the track when I analysed my job and realised that I spent at least 50% of my time teaching.
So despite my lack of formal training in the field of education, I have a few suggestions to offer in the light of experience.
Firstly, be aware of the different learning styles. Some learn by watching, some by moving, some by reading or following verbal instruction. Most of us learn by some combination of these styles. Some people learn quickly, others have a more slow and steady approach. Having said this about different learning styles however, I think it is important to keep in mind that tai chi is an art – it is all about movement. There is often a gap in understanding that occurs when you translate movement into words and a further gap when the student attempts to translate these words back into action. So if I had to have one over-riding rule it would be ‘move more, talk less’.
The second rule would be: ‘be prepared’. Have a lesson plan and try to stick to it. The lesson plan is like your road map – if you don’t know where you’re going, there is little chance your student will get there. There is an educational tool called a PDSA cycle, which I will briefly mention here. It stands for ‘plan’, ‘do’, ‘study’, ‘act’. Planning I’ve mentioned. Often when it comes to ‘doing’, something goes awry – you end up in Bulgaria instead of France or one of your wheels falls off. Don’t despair – after the lesson analyse what went wrong – was it something I did? Or was it something one of the students did that diverted your lesson? Then decide what you have to change to avoid a repetition. I believe it was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. This incidentally is one of the few things he ever said that I could easily understand. The Socratic principle of ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’ applies here – the unexamined tai chi lesson is a waste. This is how as teachers we change and grow; it is part of our education.
The third idea I would like to discuss is the KISS principle. The polite version of this is Keep It Short and Sweet. The slightly punchier version with which most of you will be familiar is Keep It Simple Stupid. Tai Chi is particularly suitable for this style of teaching. Break the move up into simple portions, use basic language and repeat it often.
Most teachers are not masters, and are at different levels in their tai chi skills. Gaining mastery does not automatically confer teaching skills and many of the finest teachers have the ability to bring out the best in their students despite limited skills. One of the finest instructors I know is my sister’s ex-boyfriend. The fact that he was a windsurfing instructor is beside the point. He was a very successful and popular instructor, and the nudist colony in the Bahamas where he taught kept asking him to return. He had a simple drill that everyone was taught and almost before they knew it, they were sailing off. This teaching success was despite his total inability to windsurf.
What is it about tai chi that makes us passionate, and why should we want to teach it? It has simplicity and complexity; it has the ability to integrate your mind, your body and your soul, your movements and your awareness into a totally harmonious whole. By teaching we share our skills and are forced into contemplating what we do and how we do it in order to explain it to others. We cannot shed light on another’s path without illuminating our own.
Tai chi is a journey, a metaphor for life. It is a journey without a final destination –perhaps there is a penultimate destination, with always something more to aim for. Your students are your fellow travellers along the road to mastery. Treat them with respect, for today’s students may be tomorrow’s masters. Above all, enjoy the view along the way, for the journey is all.
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In his keynote address ‘Examining Ancient Practices with Modern Science’, Dr Roy Geib of Indiana University School of Medicine showed a slide of a beautiful waterfall in a lovely pastoral setting. There were trees and bushes surrounding the clearing where a waterfall cascaded off a cliff into a tranquil lake. He asked the audience, ‘What do you see?’ Some said the obvious, ‘a waterfall’, while others were philosophical and said ‘zen’ or ‘tai chi’. In the next slide the camera had panned back and this lovely waterfall was actually shown to be a fountain in the lobby of a small shop. Proper perspective is so important to our understanding!
The First International Conference of Tai Chi for Health far exceeded my own limited expectations. There were 182 participants from 8 countries; 4 keynote speakers; 6 lunchtime interest groups; 53 panel presenters; 34 poster presentations; and 4 separate instructor certification workshops. A small sampling of the topics discussed illustrates the scope of the conference:
- Tai Chi for Arthritis Empowers the Chronic Disease Population
- The Development and Effect of a Tailored Exercise Program on Physical Fitness in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease
- Tai Chi and Complimentary Intervention
- Effects of Tai Chi Exercise Program on Glucose Control and Quality of Life in Type II Diabetic Patients
- Comparison of Effects among Tai Chi Exercise, Aquatic Exercise, and Self-Help Program for Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis
The abstracts of the panel presentations were so varied and interesting that it was difficult to choose which ones to attend. As a tai chi instructor with no medical background, I was pleased to be included with the medical researchers on a panel to present how I teach tai chi to people with Parkinson’s disease. I was even more pleased to find that the researchers were eager for some tai chi background information. Medical scientists from other parts of the world than mine were seeking information from me and other tai chi instructors as to how to implement tai chi in a study. I discovered yet another yin and yang application. My perspective as a tai chi instructor was limited. The researcher’s perspective as a scientist was limited. For valid research studies we need each other. To encourage the spread of tai chi practice to those who can benefit from it, we need to work together.
Dr Rhayun Song said, in speaking on ‘Research Outcomes’, that three things are necessary for valid research: content, what we test, from the science world; quality teaching of tai chi in the study, from the tai chi world; and monitors to ensure adherence to the methods, from both worlds. We do not have to do the work of medical acceptance alone; indeed we ought not to do it alone. What I learned at the conference is that there is a whole population of medical researchers who actually want to use tai chi in studies. They need quality tai chi instructors and want this missing piece in their puzzle. We need to do what we do best and allow them to do what they do best, and work together. We may be looking at the same elephant and seeing different parts of the animal, as in the old fable. By working together we may achieve the whole picture.
Perspective is so important. I was able to attend the presentation ‘Comparative Study of Tai Chi and Taoist Training’ by Master Jong Gu Park of South Korea. He showed a slide of Lego building blocks in a pile. Slide 2: a car made out of Legos. Slide 3: a pile of Legos. Slide 4: a rocket made out of Legos. Master Park said simply, ‘The same Legos can make different things. Like Tai Chi’.
Later he sketched out a chart of tai chi masters through the centuries and what each of the four men were known for. Then he pointed to the next name, Paul Lam. He said Paul Lam will be remembered in tai chi history for making tai chi accessible to those who need it, to the common person. I realized that here we are, in the right time for positive growth and acceptance of tai chi as an adjunctive therapy, trained in Dr Lam’s tai chi for health programs. We may be a part of history. Sometimes when you are so close to a big thing you cannot see it. It is time to put ourselves in the picture. The opportunity is here. What will you do with it?
The next conference on Tai Chi for Health is scheduled for December 2008, to be held in the USA. It is not too early to start examining areas of your work and practice that may be of interest to others. Perhaps it is how you adapted your teaching method for a particular population, or something you discovered as you taught, or a need you see in an area. Through collaboration with our medical colleagues we can help provide data, instruct classes, monitor studies in order to expand knowledge and acceptance of tai chi for health. We don’t have to solve any problems, we don’t have to find the solution. We can however be a piece of the larger work; we can do what we do best and teach quality tai chi for health programs. Let’s be willing to become part of the big picture!
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What would be the most effective way to practice tai chi? There is no single right answer as it varies from person to person. Those who practice tai chi have their own methods and viewpoints gained from their personal experiences. Teachers, students of tai chi and patients doing tai chi for medical reasons all want to know the best and most effective ways do it. What are they?
Based on my practical involvement, I have determined the following to be the most important factors for effective practice of tai chi:
1) Knowledge: It is essential to have the right knowledge and understanding of tai chi.
2) Clear personal goal: You must know why you are practicing tai chi.
3) Enjoyment: You need to have fun while doing tai chi.
4) Concentration: Are you able to focus during your exercises?
5) Dedication: Do you put tai chi into practice on a daily basis?
1. The right knowledge
A traveler once said, ‘You can only see as much as you know’.
This can apply to tai chi as well. You can enjoy as much as you know. Theoretical background and clear understanding of its purpose can give you a better and broader perspective on it.
When you are on a mountain, the higher you climb the further you can see. The same applies to tai chi.
In order to learn the right tai chi postures you should learn about them in detail and connect this knowledge with your inner energy, unifying your mind and body.
By understanding textbooks and following your instructor’s motions you will learn how to unify your mind and body.
2. Clear personal goals
What are your personal goals for tai chi? Why are you doing it?
Self-defense, meditation, fitness training, or health related reasons all can be answers. If you have clear ideas about your goals you can achieve them no matter what they are. Practicing tai chi is like sailing on an ocean. The ocean’s purpose can vary depending on whether you have decided it is for adventure, fishing, travel, or another purpose.
You have to find the right instructor and style for you in order to decide how much you are willing to put into it.
Making your goals clear will help you avoid making mistakes, ultimately saving you a lot of time.
No matter what your goal is, one of the most essential factors is to have fun.
It should be so enjoyable that you find your practice time is over before you even realize it is time to finish. The ultimate goal of tai chi is to be happy no matter what your goal is, whether it is to become a martial artist or a healthier person.
We can enjoy as much as we know, and only with a specific goal can we avoid getting lost.
In the beginning you may be busy following an instructor, but eventually you will get used to it, raising the ability to use your inner strength and focusing on each form will come naturally. If you manage to focus naturally, exercises will be considerably more effective.
We make all sorts of movements during our daily lives. Most of them are habitual without specific intention, and you happen to practice tai chi only during tai chi time. There is no need, however, to separate tai chi time and non-tai chi time. You can apply tai chi movements while you are driving, cleaning up or just sitting. This way you can make up for your limited exercise time.
The purpose of studying a foreign language is to put it into daily life. Considering tai chi as a sort of body language, tai chi should also be applied and put into daily life. Wouldn't it be more effective if you could express it through your mind, body and spirit in everyday life?
So far we have discussed some effective methods of tai chi training, but it all boils down to one thing.
You get to enjoy as much as you know, you learn to focus naturally and get to the point of mindfulness. At this point you will get what you long for, and when this is expressed in life you will get to know what happiness is all about.
Health or happiness is not something we should just desire, but something that can exist right here and now. If you learn that mind and body can be one through tai chi you will get to exist as you are here and now. Tai chi is only a compass to happiness. However, since the compass is not the trip, it is only when you choose to take the road that you will see the fields and the trees and be able to smell the scents. While you are experiencing these things you will get to know your basic being of happiness.
After you experience you mind and body as one, you will exist as you are, here and now.
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An introduction by Pam Kircher, MD and Master Trainer:Sue Binkley is not only in my tai chi class at our local recreation center in Durango, Colorado but also teaches classes of her own in the Tai Chi for Arthritis form. She has been living with post-polio syndrome for several years now. I encouraged her to write an article for Dr Lam's newsletter about how tai chi has affected her life. Here it is.
In 1952, at the age of 9, I had Polio. I completely recovered (you don’t actually recover, but you think you have) and I led a 'normal' (and VERY active) life. Then, in the 1990s, everything changed. I didn’t seem to have any energy. I was tired all the time. I hurt all the time. I was depressed. I just figured it was getting older. But I found that I couldn’t do 'anything'. At least not the stuff I always had done, all the stuff I wanted to do.
I went through a prolonged period (as in 5 years) of depression. I spent way too much time on the 'I can’ts'. I can’t hike, I can’t ski, I can’t even swim much distance any more. I can’t work a job anymore (fatigue). I can’t keep up with the housework. I just can’t keep up with LIFE. I was tired ALL the time. I can’t even walk without a cane for balance. I can’t even shop!
In 1999 I was diagnosed with PPS, Post Polio Syndrome and I got a wheelchair. I also got an electric scooter, both of which I used occasionally. I got a walker, which I used frequently at home. I used the electric carts at the grocery store. We got a new bed (trouble sleeping). We got a new car (trouble riding, traveling). We even put an addition on the house so I didn’t have the stairs I had lived with for 30 years. I spent hours just doing nothing except feeling sorry for myself. Nothing seemed to help.
I was very lucky to find a masseuse who did wonders. My balance seemed to get somewhat better.
Then I found Tai Chi for Arthritis. My life has completely changed. I have found something that not only has helped my balance, it is something I CAN do! And I can do it well. For the first time in years I can do something well! I have learned a new skill. I LOVE Tai Chi. It has improved my muscle strength. I am no longer 'crooked'. My mental health has improved. I am not as depressed. I am gradually increasing the distance that I can walk. I no longer depend on a cane. I don’t always have to use the electric cart in the grocery store. And I have become certified as an instructor for Tai Chi for Arthritis! I have now been teaching for several years and I love it. My students are wonderful, the teaching itself it tremendously fulfilling. My balance and my mental health have improved greatly, and the fatigue is better.
Thank you Dr. Lam for a wonderful program. I do not feel it is too strong to say that it has saved my life. And thank you Master Trainer Pam Kircher, you are a wonderful instructor and a warm, caring, sensitive and supportive person. And thank you Ginny Brown, my beginning Tai Chi instructor, who in her gentle, non-judgmental way, got me started.
You have changed my life.
Pam Kircher provides a physician's perspective:
I have known Sue since her early days in tai chi and her improvement in balance, strength and mental outlook has been a joy to behold. It is rare that people with post-polio syndrome find anything that allows them to increase their sense of well-being and activity to the extent that Sue has improved hers. As a family doctor, I am very impressed with the benefits of the Tai Chi for Arthritis program in Sue's life and would like to hear if other people with post-polio syndrome have had similar results. If you have post-polio syndrome and would like to share your experience with me, please contact me at email@example.com. Thanks.
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This article is a summary of the report, Evaluation of the Benefits of Sun Style Tai Chi Classes for Patients with Vestibular Hypofunction. The audit and report were undertaken and written collaboratively by: Jenny Burton, Hearing Therapist; Gill Morgan, Physiotherapist; Chris Poole, Hearing Therapist and the Clinical Audit and Effectiveness Department, Amersham Hospital, Bucks, UK, January 2007.
The three co-authors of the report: from the left, Jenny Burton, Gill Morgan and Chris Poole.
‘Tai Chi may be a less expensive method of obtaining rehabilitation services because it is normally practiced in a group setting. Tai Chi, which is suited to life-long practice and is commonly used in this way, may be better suited to the maintenance of health than brief one-to-one physical therapy. There is evidence that in some populations traditional physical therapy is helpful for balance while practiced, but the benefits are eliminated when physical therapy is stopped. Thus for balance rehabilitation, it may be desirable to choose a modality that is suitable for long-term practice.’
Effects of Tai Chi on Balance, Hain T.C; Fuller, L; Weil, Kotsias, Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery; Nov 1999; 125,11: ProQuest Medical Library pg. 1191
The dilemma facing many NHS departments with balance patients is the re-presentation of patients who have already been through the system at least once. This dilemma necessitates a rethink of on-going maintenance and the ever-growing waiting times. We postulate that by providing a link for the balance patient from a traditional health care rehabilitative exercise programme to a leisure club group exercise programme may provide our patients with the opportunity and motivation outlined by T. Hain et al above. Thus enabling self-responsibility for their chronic condition reducing the impact of health-care services.
A small audit with Sun Style Tai Chi (for Arthritis) was set up in February 2006 concluding in December 2006, with two 11 and 10 week courses respectively with a 5-week mini course in the middle. The first 2 were in a NHS hospital setting, the third (10 week course) at a local leisure club. Whilst subsidised by their Healthy Living Programme patients became students and paid to attend.
‘The aim of the audit was to measure, using established outcome measures, any changes in confidence & balance in the patient group before & after a course of Sun Style Tai Chi.’
- 3 Male, 6 female
- average age: 70 years
- 2 male, 3 female
- average age: 66 years
Originally 12 patients agreed to participate but 3 had to withdraw due to ill health, a further 1 withdrew from the 2nd course (personal reasons) & 3 others were unable to manage changed time/venue for the 3rd course
Patients were required to have been:
- referred by an ENT consultant with a diagnosis of vestibular hypofunction
- assessed and have received a vestibular rehabilitation programme with customised exercises enabling them to attain the ability to stand independently for 15 seconds.
Patients were given 3 questionnaires, divided into 3 sections to complete before attending classes.
- Section 1 – Dizziness Handicap Inventory (DHI).
- Section 2 – Confidence, included questions from the CONFbal.
- Section 3 – Visual analogue scale (VAS)
The second and third questionnaires were the same and were completed at the end of the first and third courses of Sun Style Tai Chi exercise classes, but included an extra section of questions – Section 4 asking patients about their experiences.
Timed measurements were carried out, at the beginning and end of the first course and at the end of the third course to assess patients’ balance.
- ‘Timed up and go’ (TUAG) -
- ‘Sharpen Romberg’ position with their eyes open without stepping out
- ‘Sharpen Romberg’ position with their eyes closed without stepping out.
Following the first course of Sun Style Tai Chi classes:
- All 9 participants saw an improvement in the speed with which they could ‘get up and go’ from a sitting position.
- 4 participants saw an improvement in the length of time they could stand in ‘Sharpen Romberg’ with their eyes open, a further 4 participants saw no change (they could all stand in ‘Sharpen Romberg’ for 60 seconds, the maximum time measured) and 1 participant saw a deterioration.
- 8 participants saw an improvement in the length of time they could stand in ‘Sharpen Romberg’ with their eyes closed, 1 participant saw a slight deterioration.
Following the third course of Sun Style Tai Chi classes of the 5 participants who took part:
- 4 saw a further improvement in the speed with which they could ‘get up and go’ from a sitting position.
- 3 participants saw a further improvement in the length of time they could stand in ‘Sharpen Romberg’ with their eyes open.
- 4 participants saw a further improvement in the length of time they could stand in ‘Sharpen Romberg’ with their eyes closed.
Following this small experiment using Tai Chi as a method of improving the quality of life for people with balance problems it concurs with other studies of improving balance. It is less conclusive regarding confidence levels however; suggestions are that questionnaire’s need to be developed and validated for broader judgements and/or to evaluate over several days. Other studies also have provided evidence for improvement of stamina, muscle strength and flexibility all-important contributors to improved balance functionality.
It is theorised there is sufficient indications to consider larger subject number and longer-term studies. This may then provide statistically significant evidence to emerging suggestions that confirm the opening statement by Hain et al: ‘Thus for balance rehabilitation, it may be desirable to choose a modality that is suitable for long-term practice’.
Outside of the audit it was also suggested by the team that unrecorded verbal statements indicated that the relaxation benefits from the Tai Chi and specific breathing exercises, (Qigong) assisted with refocusing from tinnitus experiences.
The project team are actively involved in hosting a ‘Sun Style Tai Chi for Arthritis - Part 1, National Instructor’s Course’ in collaboration with the UK Sun Style Master Instructor 15 & 16th September 2007 in Amersham, Bucks. It is thoroughly recommended for all health care professionals who are involved in the care of patients who have chronic conditions (in our audit, chronic imbalance) to provide a bridge from health care to self-care and maintenance of their own long term needs.
Sun Style Tai Chi course details can be obtained from:
Commonweal, 56 Wellington Street, Stockport, Cheshire SK1 3AQ
Phone: 0161 928 4903 (evenings)
Phone: 0161 480 5490 (days)
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Congratulations are due to Cheryl Lee Player for winning our 'Widest Age Gap' competition! Read Cheryl's story below to see how tai chi changes lives all across the life continuum. Both Guss and June have inspirational stories and remind us that it is never too soon nor too late to enjoy the vast benefits of regular tai chi practice.
Cheryl's prize consists of autographed copies of Dr Lam's two new books ‘Teaching Tai Chi Effectively’ and ‘Tai Chi for Beginners and the 24 Forms’, and a copy of the DVDs of ‘Tai Chi for Older Adults’ and ‘Tai Chi 4 Kidz’.
Cheryl's competition entry
My youngest student, Guss Blunden, is 8 years old and started weekly classes of Tai Chi 4 Kidz with me on 1 May 2006. Guss has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and his doctor recommended Tai Chi to his parents. He has completed the program along with his brother Arthur, aged 10. Guss recently joined me at his school to do a Tai Chi demo. He was wonderful and I was so pleased to hear that he afterwards received the Principal’s Award for it (the school’s highest award). Both boys have successfully completed the program and I would like to present them with a certificate.
My eldest student, June Brooks, turned 84 last week and has been doing Tai Chi with me for 6 years. She started in a class of 8 ladies, most of them seated for the lesson, and had at that time new hips and knees. She couldn’t even lift her arms then. June had a toe amputated last year through diabetes, but is still an enthusiastic, vivacious member of our Tai Chi family who enjoys much improved lifestyle thanks to her Tai Chi training.
We have another lady, Wynne, who is 94 years of age and used to do the class up until four years ago. Wynne comes to class twice a week with her daughter, Dulcie Barrett, but is now just happy to watch. We love having her in class and she often joins us for coffee afterwards.
Cheryl Lee Player
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My number one goal for this column is to provide readers with healthy humor, also called ‘positive humor’. Curiously, funny stories and jokes that fit the healthy humor category are rare. The richest source of positive humor comes from children. They truly have a ‘beginner's mind’ and innocence. We can laugh at their stories, share the fun and no one is offended. I think readers will enjoy these stories from six-year-old children.
The view from first grade
Little Bobby was getting poor marks in first grade. One Monday morning he gave the teacher quite a surprise. He tapped her on the shoulder and said, ‘I don't want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don't get better grades, somebody is going to get a spanking’.
The Reverend Billy Graham tells of a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was. When the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, ‘If you'll come to the Church this evening, you can hear me tell everyone how to get to Heaven’.
‘I don't think I'll be there,’ the boy said. ‘You don't even know your way to the post office.’
A boy comes home from his first day in first grade. His mother asked, ‘Bobby, what did you learn today?’ Bobby answered, ‘Not enough. They want me to come back tomorrow.’
Bobby came home from school and said to his mother, ‘Mom, today in school I was punished for something that I didn't do.’
The mother exclaimed, ‘But that's terrible! I'm going to have a talk with your teacher about this ... by the way, what was it that you didn't do?’
Bobby slowly replied, ‘My homework.’
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Christian elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The cafeteria worker had made a sign, and posted on the apple tray: ‘Take only ONE. God is watching.’
Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large tray of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note It read, ‘Take all you want. God is watching the apples.’
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