The principles of Tai Chi practice are common ground for thousands of Tai Chi gestures and forms.  These fundamentals include an upright yet relaxed spine, abdominal breathing, and movement from the dantien (body center).  Various Tai Chi schools also make use of the eyes to elicit both autonomic and neuromuscular effects.  “Yang” or wide open eyes activate the nervous system while “Yin” or closed eyes relax it.  “Tai Chi eyes” are half open with relaxed eyelids, allowing both reception of information from the outside world and a calm centering within.  Certain Tai Chi & Qigong gestures like Cloud Hands include visual scanning as convergent and divergent vision practices as well as tracking hand movements to elicit specific neuromuscular activation.

Speech / language pathologists and vision / vestibular specialists have commented during Rehabilitative Qigong & Tai Chi seminars on the similarities between the clinical vision exercises they use with clients and the visual tracking employed in Tai Chi.

A study titled “Tai Chi and vestibular rehabilitation improve vestibulopathic gait via different neuromuscular mechanisms: Preliminary report” compared standard vestibular rehabilitation (VR) to Tai Chi (TC) with neutral gaze. The study concluded “The TC group’s improvements were associated with reorganized lower extremity neuromuscular patterns, which appear to promote a faster gait and reduced excessive hip compensation. The VR group’s improvements, however, were not the result of lower extremity neuromuscular pattern changes. Lower-extremity muscle energy expenditure increases corresponded to attenuated forward trunk linear and angular movement in the VR group, suggesting better control of upper body motion to minimize loss of balance.”

The Rehabilitative Qigong & Tai Chi method employs the Body, Breath, Vision (BBV) focus.  For each gesture or movement we ask, “what is the body focus and where is the breath and visual focus?”  In this way, Rehabilitative Qigong & Tai Chi bring together the foundations of both vestibular and neuromuscular rehabilitation creating a holistic treatment approach.  All in favor of a holistic, integrated bodymind approach to rehabilitation say “EYE”!

Brian Trzaskos, Founder IRQTC