Tai Chi Helps to Keep Me Young
– interviewed by Instructor Lis
Susan trained as an athlete and gymnast when she was young. When she began Tai Chi in 2000, it wasn’t difficult for her physically or in terms of coordination, because of her earlier training. Now in her late forties, her body has retained its fitness and relative flexibility as she ages. Her biggest challenge came from the Qigong, learning to relax the mind and to relax internally.
Perseverance is something she learned through her early athletics training. It is an aspect of her personality she is pleased to see manifesting itself in her sons, as they grow into young men. She continued practising the Qigong, believing Brett when he said it would be beneficial. She gradually began to appreciate the value of Qigong more and more as her form and practice improved. She feels strongly that “all students need to go through this internal training to go deeply into the movements. If you don’t, you don’t understand your Tai Chi.”
When she started with the Academy in 2000, she learned the traditional Yang Style and a Qigong technique called Embracing the Tree. Some time later, she missed a few terms. When she returned to classes in 2004, we were teaching Hun Yuan Tai Chi and the current Qigong sets. “I had to start as a beginner again, but I found it much easier the second time. I understood the importance of the Qigong as well, but the exercises were easier to relax into. I didn’t find the Hun Yuan Tai Chi difficult to learn after learning the Yang style.”
Susan attends class twice each week, and her family knows Mondays and Wednesdays are her nights out. “It’s become a habit, but I like the way things change all the time. Every class, I watch Brett to learn something new. I see how low he goes and try to go just a little bit lower myself. I am amazed at how different it makes the form. It’s like learning something new all over again. That’s one of the reasons I keep coming to class — to keep learning.”
Susan has always been aware of her posture and naturally holds herself straight. However, she has become much more aware of little aches and pains or tensions in her body as she gets older. “My job involves sitting either at my desk or in a car, and sometimes my back will feel stiff. I do some Tai Chi exercises and the pain dissolves very quickly in, at most, a day or two. All my work colleagues often complain about back and neck pain. I tell them to do Tai Chi, and I also point out how sitting with a straight spine is important – ‘sit as though you’re standing’ and they think I’m crazy.” But Susan’s back isn’t chronically sore.
“I walk for an hour every morning, regardless of the weather. Every morning. Sometimes, my twenty one year old son comes with me, and I’m glad he is learning to care for his health. I haven’t convinced either son to take up Tai Chi yet although they have done martial art. They think I’m too small to use Tai Chi applications on them …… but they haven’t seen the way that Brett demonstrates!
We live near a mountain and I love to walk up to the top and do my practice in my special space. It’s my own serene spot and it’s beautiful.”
(This is an actual interview, but the name has been changed for reasons of privacy.)