Do You Ski? "Do" Tai Chi!

February 8 2010

Picture this: a gray-haired (prematurely, of course) skier -- a congenital klutz, several dozen years past the stage of shouting "yee-hah!!!" while careening down the slopes just barely in control  -- now sublimely, gracefully, carving an exquisitely rhythmic white path at 9,500 ft, 9,400 ft, 9,300 ft…

Ski lessons? No.

Well, how about that couple-of-days-a-week routine that might include time on the treadmill, elliptical, leg press, bicycle, rowing machine? Helps some with strength and stamina. But grace? Uh, uh. Stretching? Yoga? Good for flexibility, but not grace.

Ok, the title's the spoiler. And apologies to the purists say you don't "do" tai chi (but that's another topic).

My husband and I signed up for a tai chi class at our local "Y" about 6 weeks before heading out to Colorado. Better skiing wasn't the motive. My interest was piqued by the supporting role that tai chi played in the novel "Everything under the Sky" which I had recently finished reading. But there's no other way to explain my skiing transformation: the direct result of the tai chi lessons.

A clarification about tai chi may be in order. Many people equate tai chi with the martial arts. That's how the practice originated. However, you've probably also seen images of elderly Chinese people performing slow, stately movements in a park. Hardly martial arts!

Tai chi offers "ordinary" people important therapeutic benefits from tai chi exercises. Do a quick search on tai chi benefits. You'll find thousands of resources, ranging from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health to local practitioners and teachers.

Our class was conducted by Mary Young, who earned several certifications through the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi. She's starting a new class beginning February 23, 2012 at the Lattof YMCA in Des Plaines, a suburb NW of Chicago. Hope you can join us!

PS - The deep-breath, slow inhale/exhale practice also shortened the time it took for us flatlanders to acclimatize to the higher altitudes. Nice!

Category: Now You Know
Filed under: Exercise