7pm on Mondays, 9:30am on Wednesdays
Taoist Tai Chi
The health claims made for Taoist Tai Chi by the Taoist Tai Chi Society are generally similar to those made for all forms of Tai Chi.
In common with other forms of Tai Chi, the society says that for beginners Tai Chi starts out as primarily an external exercise, but for more advanced students it becomes more internal, exercising the internal organs and mind as well as the frame and muscles. Early in learning the Tai Chi set students may notice that the form strengthens the larger muscle groups in the legs, arms and back. According to the Taoist Tai Chi Society, the stretching aspects of the form improves the functioning of the joints, tendons and ligaments by taking them through their full range of motion. This can improve flexibility and reduce age-related deterioration.
The Taoist Tai Chi Society claims that later in their training students note increased mobility in the spine and that the form restores proper alignment of the spine with the shoulders and pelvis through the spinal stretches and rotations that are built into the set. Additionally the society claims that the form stimulates the spinal nerves, providing a balancing effect on the nervous system. Later on in practice the student may find that the set will exercise the internal organs, possibly resulting in increased circulation, digestion and elimination. The society claims that the set strengthens the cardiovascular system, improves physical conditioning, decreases fatigue and improves endurance.
Many of the health benefits claimed are related to the relaxation aspects of the Taoist Tai Chi set. The long stretches in the set may reduce tension at a muscular level and the slow pace of the set can create both mental and physical relaxation. The society claims that by relaxing the mind during Tai Chi the brain requires less blood and nutrients and that this allows the rest of the body to make use of these. This all may act to calm the heart and mind, while possibly improving strength and reducing overall stress.
Philosophically, the tai chi taught by the Taoist Tai Chi Society is stated to be taught from a belief that people are innately good but that the nature of society causes people to become self-centred and to acquire bad habits. The aim of the training is to “eliminate these weaknesses so that our original nature of goodness can again shine brightly, guiding our thoughts and actions.” To achieve this the society promotes the virtues of compassion and service to others, through students becoming instructors who then teach Tai Chi to new students without any personal gain. In some cases, Tai Chi may be taught by the society as an integrated meditation art as well as an exercise program.
The Taoist Tai Chi Society sums up the challenges:
|“||It is not easy to achieve the state of emptiness or stillness in the midst of today’s busy and complex lifestyle. To achieve stillness and yet be involved and active is even more difficult. Practicing Taoist Tai Chi fosters stillness since the focused concentration required to do the Tai Chi set (and developed in learning it) occupies the mind, drawing it away from daily worries and tensions. Learning to quiet the mind, even while moving through the Tai Chi set, lays a foundation for integrating the principle of stillness—and the recognition of our original nature—into our daily lives.||”|