Any one who ever experienced extreme pain as I have would do almost anything to be rid of it. The Tai Chi exercises have resolved this problem. Now every morning when I get out of bed I do my Tai Chi exercises, especially the ones that benefit the shoulder areas. It seems so good to be able to reach up and put the dishes away or to lift heavy objects without grimacing with pain. Thank You Tai Chi!
Tai Chi And Parkinson's Disease
by Frank Havens
In July 1995, I was in my first month of retirement when I learned I was one in a million Americans who must learn to live with Parkinson’s Disease. I have always enjoyed excellent health and looked forward to enjoying many years of tennis, skiing, dancing and digging in our perennial garden. Suddenly all these physical pursuits seemed over shadowed by my diagnosis. Recently I discovered an article on “Tai Chi and Parkinson's Disease” by Dr. Edward Schwatzman, M.D. This neurologist is a consultant to the U.S.C. National Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. He wrote “The principles of Tai Chi address each of the major manifestations of Parkinson’s Disease - including tremor, rigidity, postural instability and mental lethargy. Tai Chi strengthens those motor and mental skills which Parkinson’s Disease attacks. I believe it has the potential to help the Parkinson’s Disease patient by slowing functional decline and even restoring lost abilities,” I have taken Tai Chi Classes with Mark Tolstrup since September and I feel that the postures I am practicing help my balance and mobility. This in turn gives me a new skill to get “unstuck” and gives me the encouragement to face the future with confidence and more hope.
Qi Gong Student Marina Petro
Dear Mark, Your Thursday morning Chi Kung class is always a welcomed respite in my week. Life has never been more demanding. The benefits I derive physically, mentally and spiritually from this practice have kept me coming back week after week for the past year. I always experience a radical shift between the time I arrive at class (usually in a fragmented state after seeing clients) and when I leave-energy and composure restored. I thoroughly appreciate your style of teaching. It is perfectly balanced between imparting knowledge and practice. With gratitude, Marina Petro
Tai Chi Escape
by Viola Farnsworth
It is a great escape going to Moreau Community Center on Monday mornings to attend Mark Tolstrup’s Tai Chi class. Since I start work at the “Great Escape” Lake George at 9:30, I am a little late because of Tai Chi class, but I feel more relaxed, centered and ready for the days adventure with our guests. I was first introduced to Tai Chi at ACC where at age 61 I completed my degree. The idea is to learn from the nature of things, go with the flow, slow and smooth. We are on a raft in the river of life. By doing Tai Chi we become the river and the chi is the current. We may be the tangible (river) body and bones but the intangible (chi) is the mind and intrinsic energy. The movements are smooth, slow and at my own pace. The smoothness is a kind of balance like walking and shifting the weight from the left foot to the right foot. Always relaxing; a steady flow. With a start like that, I’m ready for a days work. During the school year I work for the school lunch program in S. Glens Falls. There too, I feel a more relaxed and balanced start for the days adventure with our model school students.
A Seniors View of Tai Chi Class
by Anita Sarchioto
Three years ago when Tai Chi was offered at the Glens Falls Senior Center, I signed up for the classes. I enjoyed doing the movements and postures from the start, and as I learned more of the form, I liked the way it made me aware of my body and of what it could do. Tai Chi movements are slow, easy and graceful, and after practicing the form, I feel as if I have had a gentle overall body workout. Doing Tai Chi has helped my balance. When I began classes, standing on one leg seemed impossible, after awhile it seemed next to impossible. Over time my balance improved. There are several postures in the form which improve balancing on one leg. There are also a couple of movements spinning on one leg. While I haven’t mastered the spins, I’m happy to be able to stand on one leg. As my teacher says, with a smile, that’s quite an accomplishment. The Five Animal Frolics, a fun class which is sometimes offered, provides another opportunity to experiment with different movements and postures. Tai Chi involves body mind and breathing, and maybe after some more years, I will come to integrating my breathing with the movements.
Qi Gong Student Noreen Jones
While hiking up a hill one afternoon I found that I was out of breath and my leg muscles burned. I decided to try a technique I learned in Mark’s Qi Gong class in an effort to move the breath from the upper chest to the abdominal area. I focused on the Low Dantien (abdominal energy center) and moved the energy in a spiraling fashion. I was pleased ( but not surprised) to find that I was breathing more comfortably and my leg muscles no longer burned. –Pretty Cool!
Tai Chi and Skiing
by Laura Gardiner
Hello Skiers! The skis are tuned. Your body feels somewhat ready. Shaped skis are on your Christmas list and you are praying for snow. Now to carve the perfect turns. There are many places to find help with our “on the slopes” abilities. One great place to start for me is with Tai Chi. Studies at Emory University have shown a 48% increase in balance through Tai Chi training. Basic balance helps from the struggle putting on your boots, to smoothly getting onthe quad lift, to really being over that properly angled edge. The balance and body control acquired through training in the slow and smooth Tai Chi postures let you be in charge of how you move. The Tai Chi training exercises help build strong legs and hips allowing you to build up endurance much earlier in the season. The proper breathing that is part of the Tai Chi techniques helps to utilize that cold air out on the ski slopes. Skiing and Tai Chi are both complex disciplines which you will enjoy most if the proper form is savored and then allowed to flow smoothly and naturally to the next position. So see you in Tai Chi class and have a great time dancing with the mountain.
Tai Chi & Health A personal experience
by Cathy Steven's
Sometimes you just don't know where a step will lead, but you have to take it. All I knew of Tai Chi was that it was a gentle martial art, which definitely seemed like a contradiction in terms; so when I saw the ad for a class in Saratoga, my curiosity was piqued and I had to call. One class and I had to return. A year's worth of classes and I was hooked. But why? What is it about this gentle exercise that so attracts me? A lot of it has to do with the health benefits that I've realized as a result of immersing myself in this ancient internal martial arts form. Within the past several years, studies have been published which discuss the varied health improvements that have occurred in people practicing tai chi. As a result of attending classes and practicing regularly, I too have experienced some positive health results. My blood pressure, although never dangerously high, decreased and remains at a normal level. My sense of balance has improved. This I noticed while simply picking up my foot to tie my shoe without using anything to lean against. I'm much more flexible now than I was when I started, maybe because the joints throughout my body have begun to open up. My weight has also gone down as my body seeks to find its balance, and my legs have gradually become stronger. Admittedly, each one of these things perhaps isn't very dramatic, but they're important to me, and put all together they let me know that something is definitely happening on the inside. I feel healthy, and that's important. What I've briefly related here are my own personal experiences and thoughts. Of course, everyone's different and will have his or her own set of experiences. I'm just writing this to possibly encourage someone to make the call, to go to that extra class, to practice on a day that seems impossible, to take the step- you never know where it might lead.
References: Bear, Katie. "A movement toward tai chi", Harvard Health Letter, July 97, vol.22, no.9, p.6. Bradbury, Jane. "And another way to reduce blood pressure", Lancet, 3/21/98, vol.351, no.9106, p.886. Rappaport, Jennifer. "Muscle and meditation", Natural Health, 3/13/97, vol.27, no.2, p.104.