Together we can create real change.

Hello and thank you for being a part of the Institute for Rehabilitative Qigong & Tai Chi (IRQTC) community, joining us all together in bringing healing back into health care. A few months ago I met a wonderful therapist at a program in New England who related to me her own personal experience with Tai Chi. She came to a Therapeutic Tai Chi for Balance and Falls Prevention course after recovering from an acute episode of spinal inflammation, which rendered her a quadriplegic.  Prior to this devastating event she had only taken one Tai Chi class. However, while lying in the hospital bed unable to move, she visualized what she had learned over and over again, mentally practicing the forms.  She credits the simple Tai Chi she learned and practiced internally as the reason for her recovery and now has the calling to learn more and to share it with others. I too know this calling and have met so many wonderful health care practitioners during the Therapeutic Tai Chi for Balance and Qigong for Neck & Shoulder Rehabilitation programs. I am looking forward to our upcoming tours in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and others yet to be announced.  Consider sharing your own Tai Chi stories with us, realizing that together we can create real change. Hope to hear from you soon, Brian

Heron Walking

The Great Blue Heron walks with stunningly beautiful grace and precision.  Tai Chi walking models itself after this amazingly patient and well balanced creature, reconnecting the practitioner to their body and engendering fluid stability. Research on Tai Chi walking continues to reveal the positive aspects of slow, mindful gait as quoted from the review paper Tai Chi Chuan in Medicine and Health Promotion “Compared with normal gait, Tai Chi gait had (1) a longer cycle duration, and duration of single-leg stance; (2) a larger joint motion in ankle dorsi/plantar flexion, knee flexion, hip flexion, and hip abduction; (3) a larger lateral body shift; and (4) a significant involvement of ankle dorsiflexors, knee extensors, hip flexors and abductors, longer isometric and eccentric actions, and longer coactivations of muscles [7]. Normal muscle activation patterns are characterized by activation and relaxation related to the agonist and antagonist muscle groups during a specific activity. Coactivation of muscle groups is a common strategy adopted to reduce strain and shear forces at the joint [8].” In summary, Tai chi walking leads to improved joint range of motion, sway response, neuromuscular activation, and synergistic muscle performance with many studies indicating Tai Chi as a safe method in balance improvement and fall risk reduction.  Studies also reveal that using imagery direction such as “walk like a graceful bird” leads to improved balance performance in older adults.  Symbolism such as this is inherent to Tai Chi wisdom as a method of evoking a holistic response, which involves multiple body systems simultaneously.  As a final observation, consider how much fun children have acting as if they are tigers, horses, or birds; be with their smiles and laughter, a hallmark sign of the parasympathetic nervous system shift.  It’s doubtful that asking them to focus on ankle control during the stance phase of gait would evoke the same response! Remember that by practicing your own personal Tai Chi, a new sense of health will begin taking shape for both you and all those you meet!