Say kia ora to tai chi – anywhere, anytime

Exotic, "Arabian Nights"-style mosque with domed roof. Lit at night and with a midnight-blue sky.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan

There’s a lot to love about tai chi – especially that you can do it almost anywhere, at any time.

Wherever I am during the day and across the world, it is easy to practice tai chi. One of my most memorable tai chi locations was in the Kyzylkum (Qizilqum) Desert in Uzbekistan. The word “Qizilqum” means “Red Sand” in the Uzbek language. I had an exotic, Uzbek-carpeted platform to stand on and the early morning sun rays stretched my shadow far across the desert. Fabulous. It was also very cold and I needed all of my Qi (energy flow) to keep warm.

Doing tai chi on an exotic Uzbek carpet with the desert as a background

Kyzylkum Desert in Uzbekistan

 

Further below, I’ve uploaded a few of my favourite spots around the world where I’ve tried tai chi.

You don’t need a special uniform or equipment to do tai chi and you don’t need to go to a gym. Whether at home, at work or when travelling you can practice tai chi in your lounge, the park, the beach, at your desk, on a plane or in your campsite or hotel room. You don’t have to wait until the rain stops or for the sun to be less hot. The benefits of tai chi are the same, whether indoors or outside.

There is no ‘proper’ time of day, either. While you might find it easier to have a set time per day for tai chi, there is never just ONE chance per day. Some people prefer mornings, while others choose an afternoon or evening session. 15-20 minutes per day is great, although you could get benefits from just five minutes of tai chi daily. However, 10 minutes are better than five and 15 minutes are better than 10.

Doing tai chi on the deck of a boat sailing on calm green water, with rocky cliffs in the background.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

If you only have five minutes to spare on some days, then that is better than nothing. However, it is vital to warm up before you do tai chi. So, if all you have is 5-10 minutes, then just concentrate on the warm-up exercises and your breathing. Gently do a small number of these exercises according to the limited time you have, rather than try to rush through the full set. Or, just try the breathing exercises, as in the Open & Close movement in the Sun-style Tai Chi for Arthritis programme. This is perfect when sitting at your desk at work.

However, to receive the full benefits from tai chi, then you need to be doing it daily and for longer than five minutes. Still, it is better to make a start with a short session than to do nothing.

 

 

 

What are the benefits of Tai Chi for Arthritis?

  • Increases strength and flexibility
  • Decreases pain in joints
  • Decreases stress
  • Helps reduce high blood pressure
  • Increases sense of well-being
  • Improves balance.
  • Find out more in this fact sheet for health care professionals.

Anywhere, anytime – say Kia Ora (Hello) to tai chi. Start today and keep it going.

Find out more from Dr Paul Lam:

Stand tall and deliver

Photo of a woman in tai chi post, fending off two approaching statues

Stand tall and deliver

No matter what you’re confronted with, always maintain an upright body posture.  This is one of the four essential tai chi principles.

But… what does upright body posture mean?  Well, it’s not that old-fashioned walking with a book on your head.  That’s a recipe for stiff muscles plus a sore neck and back from trying to move so rigidly. What’s more, even if you did move like that the book would still probably fall off your head.

Upright posture and alignment means NOT leaning or hunching – whether forwards, backwards or sideways.  Imagine if the top of your head was suspended from a golden strand of silk – this is a magical thread because it doesn’t cause any pain. Suspended like this, gravity helps the joints in your spine move into alignment so they are stacked sweetly on top of each other, like they’re meant to be.  Your tail bone is centrally positioned at the base of your spine and slighted tucked under. You feel balanced and comfortable.

Imagine that you are now gently lowered to your feet.  Take the weight evenly on both feet and keep your knees soft (slightly bent, not flexed straight).  This will keep your tail bone and buttocks tucked under and your spine neatly stacked.  Keep your head upright (but not tense or rigid) with your eyes looking straight ahead.  This might feel a little strange at first but in time it will feel more comfortable.

So, why is all of this important?  Because, with your head upright and with correct body posture and alignment you are more likely to:

  • Release tension and pressure caused by bad posture
  • Reduce stress and pain on the back and knees
  • Reduce the chance of falling
  • Increase your muscle strength and balance
  • Improve your martial art (you will be much harder to be pushed/pulled off balance)
  • Increase the Qi/energy flow, as this flows better in an aligned body

So, kia ora/say hello to upright posture and body alignment. They’re heaps better than just walking with a book on your head.

Black and white photo from 1950s with two women balancing books on their heads and doing tai chi

How not to do tai chi

 

Find out more:

 

 

 

Cartoon with a woman sitting down reading with a big YES above her. Another woman is shown crossed out with the word NO. She has a book on her head

Put the book in your head, not on your head

 

 

New tai chi classes start Monday 15 August

P1110445-001

Say hello to better health with these new Kia Ora Tai Chi for Health classes starting on Monday 15 August, 6.15pm, at Clayton Park School hall, Wattle Farm Road, Manurewa. Ideal for beginners and suitable for adults of all ages and high school students. Try out the 6-week ‘feel better’ introductory package at only $8 per class:

  • The 6-week ‘feel better’ introductory package for $8 per class: Attend twice per week (on both Mondays and Wednesdays), 11 classes in total from Monday 15 August to Wednesday 28 September. Pay $88 for 6 weeks, in advance and online to save $22 on the regular price of $10 per class. Please text or phone Jocelyn (the instructor) on 027 493 9851 for the bank account number or use the Contact Form (Please note: There are no classes on 29 & 31 August, nor on 7 Sept.)
  • The 6-week ‘tai chi taster’ introductory package for $9 per class: Attend once per week (on either Monday or a Wednesday and you can change the day from week to week) from Monday 15 August to Wednesday 28 September. Pay $54 for 6 weeks, in advance and online. Please text or phone Jocelyn (the instructor) on 027 493 9851 for the bank account number or use the Contact Form (Please note: There are no classes on 29 & 31 August, nor on 7 Sept.)
  • $10 per class: Pay for each class as you go. Attend either or both Monday and Wednesday classes. Cash only (sorry, no eftpos or credit cards). Note: There are no classes on 29 & 31 August, nor on 7 Sept
  • Please use the Contact Form or phone or text Jocelyn (the instructor) on 027 493 9851 for more information or to ask for the bank account number.

Timetable: Six weeks of classes for beginners, as follows::

  • 1st week: Monday 15 and Wednesday 17 August
  • 2nd week: Monday 22 and Wednesday 24 August
  • No tai chi: Monday 29 and Wednesday 31 August
  • 3rd week: Monday 5 September (no class on Wednesday 7 September)
  • 4th week: Monday 12 and Wednesday 14 September
  • 5th week: Monday 19 and Wednesday 21 September
  • 6th week: Monday 26 and Wednesday 28 September

Find out more: