Tai Chi for Seniors

“This is my 7th year taking tai chi class with Laddie. My mental and physical health would not be as strong as it is today without the knowledge I received from class from Laddie. The approach & skill with which he teaches is overwhelming. My breathing( I have asthma) and balance(I have an artificial hip) has much improved. Just take a class for a month or two and see what I mean. Thank you Laddie for giving me a different outlook on life and health”

-Martha B. 72, Mansfield, CT

Tai Chi is a movement system which has evolved over milliennia from various Chinese martial art styles of fighting. The techniques were enhanced over time by concentrating on relaxation, balance, breath control, and efficient use of joint power versus muscle strength. Tai Chi is practiced slowly, deliberately, and calmly. Visualization suggestion is used to assist the mind in making movement more “perfect” (perfection is a verb here, meaning to continue to hone skill).

“My tai chi class is really enjoyable. We spend about 1/2 an hour on stretching exercises, then we do a tai chi routine, then we work on some new tai chi movements. Some of the class members have been going for six or seven years, but I didn’t find it difficult to join in. My instructor believes in doing the movements rather than spending a lot of time on explanation. I really like his approach, and can follow along fairly easily.

The class is held in our local senior center, in a very lovely little dance studio, complete with bars and mirrors. Our instructor throws in some philosophy as well, so it is very meditative. It’s also very graceful and dance-like, and I feel as if every muscle has been very gently stretched and moved. It’s excellent for moving my shoulders through their range of motion. You can look it up on the internet–it’s very interesting to read about. It’s reputed to be good for balance and for lowering blood pressure, and well as just keeping one limber and flexible. It’s low impact, but you do keep moving through most of the hour. It apparently burns a lot of calories, surprisingly enough. It’s something you can learn and do every day, anywhere.

If you go to China, you can join the hundreds who do it in the parks every morning! I’ve done yoga and pilates over the years, but this suits me right now. Very elderly people in China keep it up. It’s also martial if you get into it deeply enough, which MIGHT be useful, but I doubt very much that I’ll get that far. That’s a matter of balance and being aware of your opponent’s balance, and then using that awareness. Very interesting.

One belief about it is that it loosens tight places and frees up inner energy–very Chinese. It might be an interesting way to do stretching for you, if you wake up stiff. We do it to music, which is lovely. I plan to get this instructor’s video. Well, it’s something new and different for me, and fun. “

-Marilyn W., Storrs, CT. Age 66

Some still train and practice Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art, but it is more often practiced as a health enhancing activity. It is moderately challenging mentally and physically, and with the right combination of serious study and levity, it is fun. Tai Chi is more and more commonly being used to train balance among senior citizens, and strong evidence is building about Tai Chi’s ability to boost the immune system, improve memeory and mood. Just as importantly, it builds confidence in one’s ability to move about, and results in the perception of an overall improvement in the sense of well-being.

“I had no idea how bad my balance was until I joined Laddie’s tai chi classes class. He has designed movements for seniors that address balance and improve it successfully!”

– Ida G., aged 80, Mansfield. CT

What is Tai Chi for Seniors at Starfarm?

The Tai Chi for Seniors Program I offer combines the movements of Tai Chi for total balance, coordination, relaxation effect, along with a period of warming up and stretching using movements of several different (qigong) training systems for training balance and breath control, as well as a variety of activities for re-learning to engage the “core” muscles, and to develop new neurological pathways from the mind into the body, and from the body back into the mind.

” I am definitiely becoming more focused and calmer. While it’s clearly an ongoning process, it’s encouraging to already see signs of progress.”

-Mili R. Pomfret, CT 65 years

Some of these claims can be measured in scientific experiment, some can only be measured in “self-report” or anecdote. Perception is reality! If you have the confidence to get up and go, you will get up and go! If you “feel good”, you feel good, period.

Scroll down to see just a bit of what the scientists are “discovering”. Click here to see what your neighbors are saying.

“very enjoyable, calming…may come into practice feeling achy and shakey…leaving feeling great and lighter” Beverly L. Thompson, CT

Emory University Medical School
Falls Prevention
“In a previous study known as the FICSIT (Frailty and Injuries: Cooperative Studies of Intervention Techniques) study, we looked at the effects of tai chi, balance training and wellness education in elderly people,” Wolf said. “This study enrolled older individuals in the community who were otherwise healthy and strong, often identified as ‘robust.The results showed that tai chi reduced the incidents of multiple falls by 47.5%.”

“Practicing Tai Chi with Laddie has been transforming. His patience, insight and imaginative encouragement has brought new control, balance and calm.”

-Emily M., aged 82, Mansfield, CT

Tai chi hasn’t been studied scientifically until recently. Preliminary research shows that for older adults, in particular, practicing tai chi regularly may:
* Reduce anxiety and depression
* Improve balance and coordination, reducing the number of falls

* Improve sleep quality, such as staying asleep longer at night and    feeling more alert during the day

* Slow bone loss in women following menopause
* Reduce high blood pressure
* Improve cardiovascular fitness
* Relieve chronic pain
* Improve everyday physical functioning

Read More Testimonials for Starfarm Tai Chi for Seniors:

“Tai Chi helps me to relax and move my body more fluidly.”

-Trudy R. Storrs, CT age 92

“I was using 7 breathing medications before Tai Chi class. I am using no breathing meds at all.”

-Joyce T. Voluntown, CT age 61

“Balance-I am not falling anymore! Using my cane less.”

-Barbara S. Voluntown, CT age 65

“…It has helped me with relaxation, breathing, balance, joint care, stress, bliss, recreation…big difference in body movements.”

-Arline S. Thompson, CT age 67

“It has helped me with relaxation in driving. Being awareof posture and relaxation during all my activities. I enjoy it very much.”

-Agnes O Thompson, CT age 77

“Tai Chi has helped immensely to keep me moving. I have lower back problems and Tai Chi keeps my back in shape.”

-Nancy H. Dayville, CT age 72

“Tai Chi practice has helped with balance and recreation. A feeling of tiredness in the morning of session becomes one of relaxation and a new feeling of peace after the exercise.”

-Richard H. Dayville, CT age 78

“With the birth of my second child, my body has more aches and pain. The range of motion of my right shoulder was poor. Once the pain between my right shoulder and neck was so bad, it caused me terrible tension headache. But after ONE session, I have no more tension and have not had another headache. After a few weeks of Tai Chi class, I only feel occassional pinching.”

-Van S. Quinebaug, CT age 31

“Thanks to Tai Chi my sense of balance has improved much more quickly than expected after two hip replacement operations.”

-Marge H. Plainfield, CT age 73

“I have been learning Tai Chi for several years. I began because I have M.S. and wanted help with balance. It helps me with balance, relaxation, and stress. The techniques have become a part of my daily life. It is fun and rejuvenating. I love it!”

-Diane J. Thompson, CT age 53

In my experience of some 8 years now in working with “seniors”, I have found that what most seniors want is to be able to lead meaningful, independent lives. What that means is being able to get around and participate in life’s activities without the fear that some frailty will cause injury. They also want “to feel good”. Students regularly report to me that practice makes them feel more grounded, more surefooted, and as one 85 year old woman, a Finish immigrant told me, “It feels me good!”.

I believe in T’ai Chi as a viable modality for training seniors in the body movement skills they need to continue to feel capable of independent lifestyle, to provide a pain management technique for arthritis, as well as a means for coping with stress.

My experience only adds to the huge body of anecdotal “evidence” of Tai Chi’s potential health benefits for seniors, but modern medical science has, for too long to ignore, been confronted with this anecdotal evidence and begun to seriously, scientifically research the possibilities. If you were to search the term “Tai Chi Hospital” you’d find dozens of listings of hospital sponsored Tai Chi for Seniors programs. Maybe they know something scientists don’t know!

To find a program being taught near you; follow this link, or to get a program started in your community email: Starfarm.

Knowing T’ai Chi does not provide the benefits, only regular practice does that. Lao Tzu says: well used garden gate shows no rust at the hinge.