I was 50 and in pain.
Going upstairs caused a shooting pain in my right hip. I thought I was way too young to have hip problems. Doctors suggested medications and surgery, but I wanted to avoid these at all costs. Back in my college days I had been on the NYU Karate team…but I found that to be too physically taxing at this point in my life. So I sought out a therapeutic exercise that I thought could be helpful, which led me to Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is short for Tai Chi Chuan…which means Grand Ultimate Fist. While based on martial arts, it is practiced today for its therapeutic health benefits. It is an ancient Chinese exercise incorporating many animal movements including birds, snakes, tigers and monkeys. Turning off rational thinking and tapping into visualization, imagery and intention, the fluid, rhythmic and synchronized movements lead to greater vigor and energy, greater flexibility, balance and mobility and an improved sense of well being. In fact, Tai Chi is often referred to as “a Moving Meditation”, incorporating mindfulness into each movement while integrating mind and body.
So after about 6 months of doing Tai Chi, my hip pain had subsided dramatically and today, no longer exists. While not a panacea for all pain, Tai Chi can be helpful.
When I retired from my executive life, I was seeking something enjoyable to do to keep myself physically active, fit and mentally engaged. I had been training in Tai Chi Chuan for nearly 15 years at this point, training with a number of different instructors and schools, and wanted to share my passion for the art with others.
Around the time I was transitioning from full time employment, a fellow Tai Chi instructor suggested I be in touch with the Wainwright House as they were seeking a Tai Chi instructor and he was unable to do it. I had always enjoyed teaching and this seemed like a natural segue as my “second act”.
And so in 2014, I began teaching at the Wainwright House. A few years ago, Dr. Peter Wayne authored “The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi…12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart & Sharp Mind”. This book examines the underlying scientific research supporting the many health benefits of Tai Chi. I’ve incorporated many of the learnings from this book into our class. Our one hour classes include gentle warm-up exercises, some Qigong (energy work) exercises, a guided meditation and instruction in the Yang Short Form…a series of choreographed movements. I try to keep the classes “light” and fun, creating a sense of belonging, community and family, while respecting and not compromising ancient principles of Tai Chi.
About the Instructor: Stu is a member of the Tai Chi for Health Institute and was certified as a Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor. Stu has practiced Tai Chi for nearly 20 years and continues his training with Grandmaster William C.C. Chen in Manhattan. He has also completed the American Red Cross Adult First Aid and CPR/AED course.
Stu will be offering his Wednesday Tai Chi class virtually beginning, Wednesday, March 25th. You can sign up here.