20 January 2019
Tai Chi exercises are known for their flowing movements that contain much inner strength, like water flowing in the river. Photo: Internet
Tai Chi exercises are known for their flowing movements that contain much inner strength, like water flowing in the river. Photo: Internet

My first experience with simplified Tai Chi

When people get sick, most will first think of taking medicine. Taking the right drugs could be the most effective way of treating an ailment, but not always.

According to the theory of Chinese medicine, sickness is the result of an overall decline in the energy level and defense capability of the human body.

Medicine offers a quick fix but the fundamental, lasting solution is to rebuild the body’s strength.

Tai Chi exercises have been proven to be a truly effective way of staying fit and fighting illnesses.

Although it may not be as fashionable as yoga or Thai boxing, Tai Chi has been practiced for more than five centuries.

Traditional Tai Chi exercises such as the Chen and Yang styles are widely known but their numerous forms and complicated routines may turn off a few newcomers.

If you are one of those who tend to be intimidated by unfamiliar movements, a simplified version of Tai Chi developed by Australian physician Paul Lam may be your cup of tea.

After having practiced Tai Chi for years, Lam developed a series of Tai Chi exercises with the assistance of medical specialists and physical therapists.

Some are intended for general health enhancement, while others are tailored to help patients with diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis and arthritis.

Lam and his Tai Chi exercises are not very well known in Hong Kong, and this is where Heaven Tam comes into the picture.

She came to learn of Lam’s Tai Chi exercises about five or six years ago and was convinced of its healing potential and health benefits.

She flew to Sydney, took courses from Lam and became a certified instructor.

Tam is also a registered nurse specializing in diabetes. Since becoming an instructor, she has been offering Tai Chi lessons to patients.

“After about six months of practice, there is usually a notable improvement in their conditions,” Tam said.

Tam is eager to promote Lam’s Tai Chi in Hong Kong.

She has arranged for Lam to come to the city this May to train up more local instructors and trainers, with the aim of attracting physical therapists, Tai Chi teachers and medical professionals to the group.

It’s Tam’s hope that when the instructor community in Hong Kong gets bigger, more people will know about this easy-to-learn version of Tai Chi and more patients will incorporate disease-specific Tai Chi exercises into their recovery program.

The stay-healthy version of the exercises applies to practically everyone, young or elderly.

For fragile patients, modified modules make sure the exercises are safe and not too physically demanding. There are steps that can be performed while seated.

Tam went through the beginner’s set with this writer, which consists of 12 simple movements covering neck, shoulders, spine, hip, knees and ankles.

Unlike in the case of many sports, quicker is not necessarily better in Tai Chi.

“Slow, smooth and gentle” are the key words Tam is fond of saying. And it was quite fun and relaxing.

Rather than spending tons of money on health supplements and membership in fitness clubs and gyms, devoting half an hour a day to Tai Chi might be an easier and more economical way of staying fit, young and energetic.

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EJ Insight writer

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