I have some great news! We are going to be adding a new balance focused class here at Hohman based around principles from a variety of arts I have studied to create a rounded form accessible to beginners to both balance activities and who have never tried anything like Tai Chi before!
But, you know me. I love for people to understand the “why” and “how” as much as the “what.”
There is phenomenal evidence behind the use of things like Tai Chi for balance and pain relief in practice, but how do slow form martial arts in general help with that? For the balance, it actually has a lot to do with the ability to move slowly. We have a saying in martial arts, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” It means that in order to do things at speed well, you first need to develop the fine motor control it takes to do them well, and you should start that by working slowly and deliberately. With balance, this is even more remarkably accurate. I have had multiple balance experts and gurus describe standing upright and walking as “a controlled series of falls.” We are never fully standing still, we are always being pulled in various directions and having to make small corrections to control that. So how do we get better? Well we practice! Smooth, slow, and deliberate, learning how to shift our weight in various directions and with a variety of body positions to make our body more ready for any change!
So what about with pain? Well, you know my favorite thing in the world: load it, and it will learn! The slow and deliberate positioning of this type of practice places our body in positions that don’t just challenge our balance, but the muscle holding those positions, which means they begin to accept load over time! As you get better, those positions get harder and the challenge grows, but so does your body’s ability to tolerate those challenges without feeling overused, increasing your pain threshold!
Essentially, these slow “forms” and movements work a lot of what is needed to address multiple areas of health, and all in a safe, calming environment that can even be good for our stress levels! Head on over sometime and give it a try!