Coming from a Taekwondo martial arts background, which comprised of mostly 40 years of hard training, the primary purpose was the strengthening and conditioning of the body. This would be known as doing ‘Yang’ or hard exercise for the outer body. I craved the strong body, but while I may have looked well on the outside, I never gave a thought to how my internal organs were functioning, which is far more important to maintaining good health. Now as I approach the wrong side of middle age, I want my internal organs functioning at maximum efficiency and health. This softer, internal training would be termed ‘yin’.
Today I still use weights to keep in shape about three times a week but lift lighter weights for longer periods. Lifting heavier weights would be a struggle and unbalanced. To continue to lift heavy weights and perform rigorous training like I did during my thirties, would be putting great stress on my internal organs such as heart, lungs, kidneys etc.
Tai Chi allows for continued balance between muscles and other organs. The moves do not call for awkward or forced postures, but instead, use relaxation with movement as one. I had a student start with me recently and he will be 80 years young this April. I put him through an hour of Tai Chi and he just proves that regardless of your age, you can continue to make a balanced progression throughout your life. Unlike other activities, where after a certain age your performance deteriorates, Tai Chi allows you to progress to a higher level right into your later years.
Today our mad world more than ever needs that body mind connection. Yes, we need that right balance as the hundreds of Chinese people who exercise in the parks have proven this to us for hundreds of years. It’s never too late or too early to start Tai Chi.