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Tag Archives: Range of motion

Unconscious Muscle Tension

For most of us, our body is in a constant state of tug-of-war with itself, as muscles use tension to counterbalance other muscles that are carrying excessive tension to begin with. This state of affairs is analogous to driving a car with the emergency break on. It limits our range of expression, creates wear and tear, drains our energy, and makes living and moving seem more difficult than it needs to. This tension usually exists below the level of conscious awareness, so that we do not even realize that we are carrying it, nor are we in touch with what it feels like to truly relax.

Where does this unconscious tension come from? From every negative emotion you have ever felt and not fully expressed. From every stress-inducing situation that did not come to a complete and speedy resolution. From every impulse you have ever had to control the way you appear to other people.

How can we release it? Through somatic therapy and emotional release modalities: somatic experiencing, yoga, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, acupuncture, massage, breathwork, meditation, qigong.

And, of course, tai chi.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Stress

 

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How Yoga and Tai Chi Complement Each Other

Yoga and tai chi have several elements in common, but they also provide distinct benefits. This is how they are alike and different:

Alike

Both are mind-body arts that work by regulating and integrating body, breath, and mind, and are suitable for people of all ages and physical conditions. Practice is meditative, and benefits include reduced stress, improved balance and posture, elevated awareness, and enhanced healing and immune function.

Distinct

Yoga emphasizes range of motion, tai chi emphasizes fluidity of motion. Yoga focuses on opening the joints as much as possible, tai chi focuses on freeing the joints as much as possible. Yoga tends to make the joints exposed, tai chi tends to keep the joints protected. Yoga is practiced solo, tai chi can only be practiced fully with a partner. Balance in yoga is mostly static, balance in tai chi is mostly dynamic.  Yoga develops more external strength, tai chi develops more sensitivity.  Yoga inverts the body, tai chi does not.  Yoga evolved from devotional practices, tai chi evolved from healing practices.

How Yoga Can Benefit Your Tai Chi Practice

If you already practice tai chi, yoga will reinforce the benefits, as well as provide an extra degree of external strength, range of motion, and breathing capacity to complement your internal energy development, all of which will make your tai chi more powerful and effective.

How Tai Chi Can Benefit Your Yoga Practice

If you already practice yoga, tai chi will reinforce the benefits.  It will also help to develop fluidity of motion and active relaxation in addition to stability of structure.  It will help you to maintain your balance and poise in the face of interference, such as while moving and being pushed around by another person.  It will teach you to avoid joint posture vulnerability, as well as how to issue and absorb large amounts of force.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in Exercise, Health, Tai Chi

 

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Healing With Tai Chi

There’s an old joke where the patient says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this…”. Tai chi gives the same response as the doctor, who says “Well, don’t do that.”

Tai chi engages the body’s natural healing mechanisms, which depend on both sensitivity and activity. If a movement makes you feel light-headed, aggravates an injury, or otherwise triggers negative internal feedback, then don’t do it. However, this is not a license to be passive or stagnant; instead engage what you can engage, and move in ways that don’t trip your body’s internal alarm systems. It is not a matter of enduring, but rather discovering the freedom you have within your constraints, which lets you gradually expand your range of motion and strengthen your body’s weak points. Practice moving in such a way that you could continue to do so for an hour, even if you actually only do so for five minutes. If you find a movement that you can’t endure, ease up, slow down, make changes until you are comfortable, but don’t simply give up. It is within a state of comfortable flow that you will access the resources that will accelerate your body’s healing capacity.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2013 in Health

 

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Tai Chi Is Sensitivity Training

To get bigger, stronger, faster, we use resistance to work our muscles to exhaustion repeatedly. This is what strength training is for.

To become more flexible, we stretch to lengthen our tendons and muscles and increase our range of motion. This is what yoga is for.

In tai chi we don’t do either of these things, so what is tai chi for?

Tai chi is for building the nervous system. In tai chi you don’t see the results as bigger muscles or increased range of motion, but rather as the effects of increased neurological development. Through tai chi training you become more receptive and responsive to internal and external feedback. Physically the aim is to increase effectiveness, rather than capacity.

In truth all three of these types of training (strength, flexibility, sensitivity) have distinct and complementary benefits, so a balanced physical training regimen will incorporate all of them, regardless of what it is called.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Exercise

 

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