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If you are planning to have a baby, tai chi for health is a good way to prepare your body for the experience.
Pregnancy can put the body under tremendous strain.
Poor balance, along with bad habits of posture and movement can make pregnancy more difficult than it needs to be.
Typically the knees and the back suffer the most.
What can tai chi do?
Tai chi is not merely an exercise system. It involves 'motor learning'.
Motor learning is about the process of using the body, rather than simply exercising the body.
Mobility, relaxed movement, balance, structure, alignment, biomechanics, efficiency, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, skill, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility.
Tai chi combines exercise with motor learning.
Lower body strength is a key feature of tai chi practice.
Students learn how to use their legs in a healthy, comfortable, powerful way - without taxing the knees or hurting the lower back.
Instead of stressing the joints and the spine, larger muscles are responsible for doing most of the work.
Ergonomics is concerned with good alignment, comfort, strain, exertion, range and reach.
Everyday chores such as cooking, gardening, brushing your teeth or washing the dishes may be seen from an ergonomic perspective.
Standing up from a chair involves a complex set of biomechanical factors.
Picking up a heavy item or squatting to tie shoe laces all can be examined in terms of comfort, healthy body use and efficiency.
By maintaining stability during tai chi practice, you learn not to lean.
An upright, stable body works constructively with gravity rather than slumping.
It feels as if somebody has their hands on your hips as you move, supporting the body.
Modern life saps energy. People are often exhausted, unhappy, frustrated...
They are frequently emotionally, physically and psychologically unbalanced.
Feeling drained is commonplace.
Tai chi addresses this by teaching people how to conserve energy.
Relaxing both mind and body will improve your health and make you feel better.
The commitment you make towards being relaxed will prove itself worthwhile when you start to feel fresh and energised.
Calming the nervous system changes how you move - you will feel less jerky and more fluid.
Natural, freer breathing
Improved body use, decreased muscular tension and a more flexible body all result in easier, fuller breathing.
The student learns how to slow, lengthen and deepen the breath in everyday life.
This leads to a more calm, emotionally-centred sense of being.
Tai chi encourages a positive attitude to life and a cool head in the face of adversity.
Emotional balance cannot be faked.
It requires a calm mind and a positive relationship with those around you.
Students in a tai chi school are encouraged to interact with one another in a healthy, friendly manner, free from the competitive norms found in wider society.
There is a supportive atmosphere of trust and care.
The training hall is safe place to be.
There is no meanness or petty behaviour, no malice or sarcasm.
Good humour, camaraderie, polite manners, consideration, respect and fun result in a pleasant training environment.
Armed with good knowledge of how to use the body skilfully, and the physical habits acquired through practice, you can confidently explore what is happening with your body.
Good use of circulation, breathing, the nervous system, skeletal structure/joints combine to make you feel energised and create a positive therapeutic outcome.
Avoid stretching too far and take easy, small steps.
Once you've had a baby it is important to be gentle with your body and allow it time to recover.
The moderate nature of tai chi means that you can exercise without exertion, strain or needing to push yourself.
Take your time, do whatever feels comfortable and appropriate.
Ask your Doctor
If pregnant, see your Doctor before trying tai chi.
Make sure that they consider it to be appropriate and follow their guidance.
Avoid DVDs and on-line instruction videos
It is extremely unwise for anyone to attempt to learn tai chi from an on-line example or a DVD they've bought.
Doubly so if you're pregnant.
Seek tuition from the best instructor you can find.
18 April 2007
Last updated 15 February 2018