When neuromuscular disease began to cause increased difficulty with my feet, my physician recommended Tai Chi as a healthy low-impact form of exercise. I purchased a copy of T’ai Chi beginning practice with David –Dorian Ross to teach me the basic movements of T’ai Chi.
I found the beginning practice to be simple to learn. After a brief introduction about the background of T’ai Chi, Mr. Ross discusses the importance of alignment and proper breathing. Mr. Ross then breaks down eight basic T’ai Chi pose into its basic elements, and guides practice. The eight moves, including Holding the Ball, Parting the Horse’s Mane, and Crane Spreads Wings, were then put together into a simple flowing routine.
The beginning practice runs for about 55 minutes with the introductory material. I found it easy to follow and very gentle on my joints. At times, I grew impatient, however, with slowing down my movements to match Mr. Ross. T’ai Chi required me to learn a different mindset regarding exercise, as it focuses on slow, gentle, smooth, continuous movement. After completing the practice, I felt relaxed, yet energized at the same time.
The bonus material includes an easy to follow AM Chi for Beginners Workout. This gentle workout lasts about 30 minutes. It was also easy to follow and relaxing.
Research has supported the health benefits of Tai Chi, including improvements in balance and strength, better sleep, and reduced joint pain for osteoarthritis sufferers. T’ai Chi is one of the forms of exercise recommended for people ALS by the Muscular Dystrophy Association as a moderate-intensity, low-resistance exercise beneficial for preserving function.
For those confined to a wheelchair, seated Tai Chi routines are available. Another option, Ai Chi, is performed in the water, combining the benefits of aquatic therapy, such as increased buoyancy and less stress on the joints, with the movements similar to T’ai Chi. Make sure to discuss any new type of exercise with your physician before trying it, however.
Overall, I would recommend this video, T’ai Chi beginning practice for learning a basic beginning standing T’ai Chi practice.
Muscular Dystrophy Association, (2010). Everyday Life with ALS: A Practical Guide. Available for free as a PDF file download at: http://www.als-mda.org/publications/everydaylifeals/ . Retrieved 4/15/11.
Ross, D., (2007). T’ai Chi beginning practice with David-Dorian Ross (DVD). Produced by GAIAM.
WebMD, (2000) Dive In! – Aquatic Therapy for People with Disabilities. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20000719/aquatic-therapy-people-disabilities?page=2 . Retrieved 4/15/11.
WebMD (2008). Health Benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong. http://www.webmd.com/balance/health-benefits-tai-chi-qigong .
Disclosure: The DVD reviewed in this article was purchased by the author for personal use.