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How do you spell relief? Tai chi

Created date

August 25th, 2009

[caption id="attachment_2089" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Instructor Mike Pilachowski demonstrates a series of fluid movements during the Thursday tai chi class at Oak Crest."]

Age-old solution, modern problems

Besides exercising the muscles and joints, tai chi has been shown to reduce stress; increase flexibility; improve muscle strength; and increase energy, stamina, and agility. Evidence also suggests that tai chi offers other benefits like reducing anxiety and depression, improving sleep quality, and relieving chronic pain. A growing body of research is building a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age, says Peter M. Wayne, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Tai Chi and Mind-Body Research Programs at Harvard Medical School s Osher Research Center. Researchers have reported stroke patients who practice tai chi may improve their balance, reducing the risk of falls. And a study in the journal Sleep shows that nearly two-thirds of people who learned tai chi experienced significant improvements in sleep quality, compared with about one-third of those who participated in health education sessions that included information on how to get a better night s rest.

In good form

Frank Chen has been taking Pilachowski s class for three years now and says that after just 20 minutes, you begin to feel relaxed and have your blood flow improved. I started out learning some basics at a YMCA, says Chen. After we moved to Oak Crest, I heard about the classes here. It really helps keep your body flexible and in shape, and it improves balance. Most modern styles of tai chi trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. The students at Oak Crest practice Yang tai chi, one of the most popular and widely practiced styles of tai chi in the world today. This July, Pilachowski helped organize the 2009 U.S. International Kuo Shu Championship Tournament held in Hunt Valley, Md. The three-day event drew more than 500 competitors in tai chi, modern wushu, Lei Tai fighting, and light contact sparring. We had over 200 events at the tournament, says Pilachowski. Competitors come from Brazil, France, South America, Canada all over the world.

Constantly evolving

After more than 14 years, Pilachowski plans to continue teaching tai chi at Oak Crest, and Seitz shows no signs of stopping. You really have to be dedicated in order to succeed at tai chi, says Seitz. It s not something you can just pick up overnight. I ve been doing it for 14 years, and I m always learning something new and perfecting movements. It s really a lifestyle and something that you practice for years and years; and if you re serious about it, it can really improve your overall well-being.