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Tai Chi

I have tried Tai Chi in the past and found it frustratingly slow and complicated and rage-inducing. But I’ve found that yoga encourages too much flexibility for my injury prone body of late, and I need to work on my balance and managing stress better, so I am trying Tai Chi again. It helps that I found five minute lessons on YouTube, with a very clear instructor (Leia Cohen). I like that she wears loose clothing instead of skin tight body suits like other exercise instructors, who seem to feel the need to advertise the effectiveness of their exercise routines, along with their clear genetic gifts.

Tai Chi is one of the only forms of exercise I’ve found that does not interest Cricket. Yoga inspired her to stretch and paw at me and bring me her toys. Sit ups and leg lifts were a clear signal that I wanted to scratch her back for twenty minutes at a time. But Tai Chi puts her to sleep.

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“I could use another blanket, Mommy.”

I had to stop the Tai Chi experiment for a couple of weeks while the two dogs (and the bird) were visiting. I was getting so much exercise from walking the dogs, and picking them up, and breaking up fights, but also it wasn’t safe to try to do Tai Chi in the living room with three small dogs weaving between my feet.

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There really wasn’t any room for me on that floor.

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Izzy did her version of Tai Chi with a banana chip.

But, a few days after they left, I started back up again, from the beginning, five minutes a day.

I’m not sure why it feels so difficult, or why five minutes seems like my limit. I’m not even sure if the limit is physical or emotional or spiritual. There’s physical pain involved in doing such slow movements, and being aware of each movement and how it feels in my body. There’s discomfort. Maybe that’s the more appropriate word for it. Tai Chi is supposed to be moving meditation, an attempt to center in the body and breath and find some calm. And maybe calm is uncomfortable for me, and attention to the body is uncomfortable.

All of my different aches and pains seem to get air time when I do Tai Chi, like a room full of senior citizens grumbling and groaning. I try to keep them on mute the rest of the time, with medication and distraction techniques, but Tai Chi seems to take me off mute.

My hope is that five minutes a day will lead me to ten minutes and eventually I will feel stronger and more centered, but I don’t know if this will work for me. All I can do is try.

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“You go ahead, Mommy. I’ll wait here.”

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

88 responses »

  1. Good Luck! I’d like to try yoga again myself..

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  2. Had to laugh at the pic of the floor strewn with dogs and toys. There wasn’t room for you. Good luck with the tai chi. It’s worth a try.

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  3. At least you’re TRYING. I may have to look into that series myself as I need to do something physical or I’m going to be very sorry I think. And be kind to yourself. It’s damp outside (at least it is here) and arthritis and/or achy joints and bones don’t appreciate damp. At least mine don’t. I got a smile from the crowded floor…they do seem to kind of fill up the empty spaces, don’t they?

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  4. I was at one of our local parks and was fascinated watching a woman doing Tai Chi. It looked complicated to me, but I loved how the moves flowed from one to the next. No interest from Cricket? Give her another blanket and carry on, Rachel.

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  5. I am glad to hear you say that about Tai Chi because I have tried it twice myself and had the same response — I am able to follow the moves in (very basic) yoga just fine, but Tai Chi looks like it should be so easy and flowing, but I find it very difficult and it makes me grumpy. I will have to try those YouTube videos.

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  6. I’d be interested in where you found the lessons you liked. I keep thinking I should try this, too. My husband was in a tai chi class for several years until a broken ankle set him back. I’ve been taking a ballet class for over 30 years, but my balance has gotten to be so bad that I think the tai chi (if I could do it at all) might help.

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  7. Thanks for mentioning Leia Cohen. I just checked her out and did the 5 minutes with her. Although I’ve done yoga and karate, I see what you mean by discomfort. I was unable to flow like she does, and found my body tensing. I’m sure it takes practice, lots of it. If you think about, any skillful person makes what they do look easy, but they’ve put a lot of work into it. I’ve always wanted to learn Tai Chi but there were no classes close by or at a convenient time. I’ll follow through with her lessons, and Rachel, I hope you do, too. In time, we’ll look like experts also.

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  8. I love the doggie antics! Thanks for your thoughts on Tai Chi. I’ve heard it’s wonderful for older folks and balance. It’s what I need!

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  9. Best of luck with the Tai Chi! I totally understand dogs weaving around your feet. When I try to do yoga I get a lot of noses to the face 😅. I’m not sure I end up with the right calm just then. Take care Rachel 😊❤️

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  10. Let Cricket do it and show off her genetic gifts.

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  11. Exercise usually gets easier as time goes by and your body gets used to it. I swim a great deal, and it used to be difficult. Now, it’s easy. 🙂 Good luck!

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  12. Keep going. It will get easier. Don’t give up!

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  13. Sounds interesting. I may give it a try. Keep us posted on your progress.

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  14. I did Tai Chi classes in the past (as a Christian I would not do it now, nor Yoga knowing what I now know). It was complex activity despite it attracting lots of very old ladies and the routines went on and on and on. I don’t have that sort of memory and would stop dead! I liked my teacher though, she was a black belt in Karate and very much like the Victoria Wood fitness character. A bit of cardio, resistance with light weights and regular stretches does me daily. I wish you success in your fitness and mobility. What about a trampette? No pressure on joints. Cricket I am sure would love to see you rebounding in the air 😀

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  15. Tai chi takes strength, focus and discipline sadly none of which is something I have. Those afghans really are beautiful! Lucky Cricket. You have a lot of talent.

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  16. Keep going Rachel. Everything is hard at the beginning. Be kind to yourself. Just try to be aware of how your body feels and don’t compare yourself to Leia. I’m sure she didn’t flow immediately!

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  17. Have you ever tried Qi Gong Rachel? It might suit you slightly better. Matthew Cohen has a nice DVD called ‘Fire and Water’. If anything like that is too strenuous you can try ‘Restorative Yoga’, which is very gentle. Hope you can find something you can enjoy! ☺💖 xxx

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  18. I have never tried anything like that, but whatever you manage to do will have some benefits, I’m sure.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  19. try a dvd for seniors- beginners, it really teaches you its almost like a ballet moves, good luck 🌷

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  20. I have tried doing tai chi as well. I tried it a couple of years ago and did not appreciate it as much. Of course I was a whole lot younger. At this stage in my life tai chi works for me. It is all relative to where you are in your life.

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  21. Great self-awareness, Rachel. And…I may have to check out the tai chi. I wonder if my ballroom dance training will help…

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  22. I attended/attempted a local tai chi class a while back and while I saw some merit, my knees did not. It is wonderful for body awareness — my knees really reminded me of the venture. The instructor told me I did everything wrong. I hope you have better success. In the end, I settled on Pilates — which has been a miracle for helping with my spine issues, and me knees seem happy. Maybe check it out if you decide tai chi isn’t the answer!

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  23. I’ve never tried it, and had a half hearted attempt at yoga. Walking seems to suit me as the best form of exercise, so I’ll stick with it. Keep well Rachel.

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  24. Fantastic post – thank you for sharing. I love the photos 🙂

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  25. As a trauma survivor, I find any body centered activity is best experienced in very small doses. I think five minutes is admirable. To be in one’s body is to connect with all that has happened in it and to it. For some people, that is a major challenge.

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  26. If tai chi doesn’t work out try the ancient art of mai tai. It makes me feel so much better!!!!

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  27. My doctor is a big fan of Tai Chi and has recommended it…especially as we get older. 😉 Been looking for some good videos, thanks for the YouTube suggestion!

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  28. I love this analogy: “like a room full of senior citizens grumbling and groaning.” Ha! Very funny. Five minutes sounds perfect. I have an 8-minute routine that I’m too lazy to do even though it’s effective. Pat yourself on the back for keeping at it!

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  29. I can so relate to your Tai Chi experience. I have found a Qigong version that works better for me. You may also look up Jeffrey Allen (energy healing).

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  30. It seems you are already very much tuned into your body/thoughts, which indicates that you’re already farther along on the “moving meditation” spectrum than maybe you thought. Five minutes a day is much, much better for you than zero minutes. Brava on your commitment!

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  31. Great images from the instructor garb to the muted aches/seniors. Thanks for making me laugh.

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  32. wishing you success
    at healing the pains
    and smiling to tai chi 🙂

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  33. God bless you body, your dogs, and your Tai Chi

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  34. I had trouble with tai chi; I think because I had an instructor who was intent on telling me I was doing it wrong, constantly, and my ego is a little too fragile for that. I have better luck with yoga, maybe because I end up flat on back laughing while being licked by two dogs!

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  35. Not all Tai Chi is slow. So if Tai Chi is something you think will be beneficial perhaps there is a different form out there that you will like. There is also Qi Gong. I have only had a little snip of of Qi Gong, but we moved faster than the Tai Chi I have taken. Perhaps that is something you would like more. Both work to help move Qi. Good luck.

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  36. You should give yourself credit for the 5 minutes Rachel. You can build on that but realize that the 5 minutes count and you are doing something. You are definitely in the right direction! 😎

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  37. I understand home exercise regimens that the dogs mistaken for play. “Oh boy! You’re in the floor with me, trying to play with me on my level!” I’ve also struggled with that. Good luck with tai chi!

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  38. Tai Chi is something I’ve never done myself, but I’d be interested in giving it a go. All the best with it!!
    As for the photos – gorgeous as usual and made me chuckle 🙂
    xx

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  39. Despite living in China for almost 6 years, I never did try Tai Chi. My on-off love affair with yoga continues

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  40. Thanks!! Gracias!!! I am in the point that I hace tiempo take a decission between Yoga and Tai Chi.😊😊

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  41. I find yoga to be incredibly slow and frustrating also, and I become impatient to just get it over with! Do you think it doesn’t work because we can’t turn off our minds and just be in the moment? I’ve thought that and tried harder, but the harder you try to not talk about the elephant in the room, that’s all you can do.

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  42. “Maybe calm is uncomfortable for me”. That’s true of many people with active, restless minds and maybe with a work ethic that keeps nudging them if they don’t seem to be working. How do you feel when your body is still and you’re meditating or praying?

    As a Quaker with an active, restless mind I’ve found I can sink into the deep, silent contemplation of a Meeting easily. What I can’t do is keep coming in and out of it, which is one reason why I find Quaker business meetings difficult.

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