Homer's Travels: I Feel The Ch'i

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Feel The Ch'i

On Saturday the Wife and I attended our first Tai Chi class being offered by our local community college.  I'm hoping it will improve my balance and help me reduce stress and relax  As I have aged, my balance has slowly diminished.  Not terribly but noticeable to me.  It has often manifested itself as uncertainty while rock hopping - I sometimes feel unstable and uncertain.  When I was younger I was more confident in my balance.  

As for relaxation and stress - I have always been someone who finds it hard to relax.  There are times when I feel stuck in a fight or flight mode. I am also very antsy and find it difficult to stand still for long.  This manifests itself in fidgeting and hikes where I forget to stop and look around.  The Wife often says when I hike I'm racing.  She's right of course.  I need to slow down and take time to enjoy the moment.

The class started with introductions.  The teacher is a typical new-wave-vegetarian-feel-the-energy type.  I was a little worried that she would talk about the flow of life-energy and other new wave hooey.  The last time I was confronted with this kind of talk, I was at work and a consultant started talking about Feng Shui and negative energy.  I reached my limit, slammed my fist on the conference table, and said "Lady, this room is full of engineers.  We don't believe in this crap."  I have to admit that this was very cathartic at the time but I told myself I wouldn't do this in the class.  I didn't have to.  While she did talk about 'energy', she kept the mystic mumbo jumbo to a safe minimum.

I went into this class knowing very little about Tai Chi.  The teacher started taking us through some joint flexes.  Tai Chi emphasizes not stressing the body.  All motions are slow, careful, and deliberate.  This makes it perfect for people who have issues with muscle and joint pain.  It also helps with balance.  The slow pace and the slow flexing is supposed to help relaxation and relieve stress.  We moved from flexes to basic stationary moves and finished the hour with more complex walking movements.  I had some trouble near the end.  Coordinating the hand movements, foot movements, and breathing was taxing and at times I nearly lost it.  If I'd been chewing gum too, I would've overloaded and fallen flat on by a$$ for sure.

To my surprise and mild consternation the positions that are supposed to reduce the stresses on the joints were uncomfortable for me.  For example, the knees are not supposed to be locked.  You stand with your knees slightly bent.  This felt uncomfortable to me and I had to keep reminding myself to stop locking my knees.  I felt my legs shaking when I was supposed to be relaxed.  I also discovered that the slow pace of the flexing irritated me.  As I implied above, I'm not a very patient person.  I kept thinking that it was time to get on with it.  Not the best attitude to relieve stress I guess.  I have to work on that and the good thing is I want to work on it.

I'm hopeful that a lot of the issues I had should go away as my body gets used to the new motions and I get over myself and learn to relax.  I hope that six sessions will be enough to beat down my stubbornness.


  1. You're getting stressed IN a Tai Chi class? A class that's specifically meant to de-stress a person? Hmmmm... maybe add a couple of shots of whiskey before you go in...

  2. I loved my Tai Chi classes, when I went. I tried getting hubby there, but, he went to one class and was a jerk to boot in the class. I've been too embarrassed to go back.

    There are so many medical conditions Tai Chi helps. I'm so glad you and the wife have decided to try it.

  3. GH: I know I know. I'm working on it and I hoping the Tai Chi classes will help turn me around.

    Dobegil: We like it so far and hopefully it will help us improve. I like it so far.

    The wife did threaten me when I said I would try out my Kung Fu moves. I decided to take it seriously and restrained myself.

  4. I'm not a very patient person either and you've actually convinced me to forget Tai Chi whatsoever :)

  5. Godefroy: I'm learning, as I do more sessions, that I'm learning to be patient. This is a good thing. I think you should reconsider.

  6. With all due respect, I'll still say no and this for 2 reasons. I don't have any significant other pushing me do to this and given my age, my balance is still very good.

  7. Godefroy: That's your choice.

    While the Wife suggested the class, it had been something I'd thought about for a while. She just added that little motivation that I lacked.