I continued the rehab of my left knee and left side today. Doing Tai Chi walking is meditative walking and it is one of the best things I do for my rehabilitation. It is slow, mindful walking, thinking and feeling into each and every step. I slowly place my feet and shift the weight fully from one foot to the other. I sense and feel the muscles fire, first in my foot and then all the way up the leg and into the hip and back. Since I have neurological damage in my ankle flexor, knee and hip flexor, I have to mindfully fire the various muscles to get them to fire in the proper sequence. This is getting easier all the time as I gain strength. Throughout the day I try to do 100% Tai Chi walking. That means my whole daily pace is much slower. It also means that I gain strength much faster than I would if I were just doing it now and then throughout the day. I have to plan my activities to be sure I have time and energy to do the things that are most important. That's okay. My top priority right now is to get strong so I can do the things I want to do with more energy and without pain. I want to be strong for my retirement years.
The basic posture that the Tai Chi Training Team is working on now is fundamental to all Tai Chi-Qigong movement and principles. Energy flows most efficiently through a body that is straight and open, allowing full circulation, respiration and function of all the organs in the body. I am rehabilitating my left side and working on improving my gait. I constantly remind myself that I need to stand tall with my shoulders open, the crown of my head up, and my hips slightly tucked as I walk. This allows my feet and legs to move more effectively. If I slouch, there is downward pressure on my legs that drives my feet more into the ground and causes me to trip. Walking erect with my head up also allows me to use my eyes and peripheral vision more effectively to help me keep my balance. The importance of posture cannot be overstated.
On my walk this morning I was highly aware of the importance of posture. In the lower body, the hips need to be tucked. In the upper body to keep the chest bone lifted up, which improves ability to work the legs. The shoulders should be open. However, focusing on lifting the chest is a better strategy than concentrating on drawing the shoulders back, which may not necessarily open the whole front of the body. Practice lifting with the chestbone and then just drawing the shoulders back, and you will see the difference.
Great training class today! Everyone is working hard at improving their movements and at learning how to give clear instructions. The big goal here is to learn how the healing works in ourselves. Then we can be more successful in teaching others how to heal themselves.
The "Clouds" movement on the DVD. Today at our leadership class we worked on "Clouds." Clouds appears to be so simple, and yet it has deep and profound healing effects. It feels absolutely wonderful when you are doing it, giving a sense of physical peace and inner calm. The circular and elliptical patterns of the arms are soothing at the same time they loosen and tone the muscles in the upper body. Shifting the weight back and forth produces a rocking motion that is comforting at the same time it strengthens the legs and builds stability in the lower body. Repetitive movements help to neurologically train visual-motor skills and help coordinate both sides of the brain. Clouds is one of the favorite movements in my classes because of its beauty, peace and the wonderful sense of harmony when everyone is "on the same cloud."
Tai Chi is good for stroke! According to reported global estimates, 15 million people suffer from a stroke each year, resulting in 5.5 million deaths, with 5 million left permanently disabled. Typical disabilities following stroke include poor neuromuscular control, hemodynamic imbalance, and negative mood state. Tai Chi (TC) is associated with better balance, lower blood pressure, and improved mood, which are important for stroke survivors. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17698454
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