Monday, 31 July 2017

Tai Chi, Nature, and Health

“We seem to know that time spent in green space is just what the doctor ordered.”
I wrote the above quote as part of a guest blog for the support organisation AfterTrauma. In that blog I talk about how natural spaces can help us cope with the ups and downs of life and the growing evidence from science that supports our intuition. And what has this got to do with your practise of tai chi chuan.

Well, if you delve a little deeper into the roots of tai chi you soon find out that those roots spring from the rich cultural and philosophical ground of Taoism (sometimes written Daoism). This short, beautiful film below gives a good primer on Taoism and how it relates in particular to the martial arts of China, the same roots from which our tai chi for health programme stem:

I often encourage people who come to our classes and workshops to see if they can find a little private space, a garden if they have one, or a quiet corner in a park for instance, where they can practise their tai chi form outside.

People don't hesitate to say how their practice of the tai chi form takes on a new sense of meaning when they do so. Some of the sequence names found in the various styles of tai chi that we learn, such as wave hands in clouds and gather celestial energy, suddenly make perfect sense when performed outdoors.

I hope this short blog and the links within it encourage you to get outdoors. You don't have to practise the tai chi form outdoors to get the benefit, taking a short stroll, or taking a seat in a green space will reward and reinvigourate you. You'll find yourself slip effortlessly into that mindful state that eases our sense of wellbeing in the world.

The health benefits of forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku.
Forest Bathing or Shinrin-yoku

In Japan you will find people go to specially designated forest trails to ‘bathe’ in the healing balm of the trees. They literally call it forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku, and researchers have found that regular strolls in these lush spaces can offer profound health benefits for people living with many different long term physical and mental health conditions.

As I wrote in the guest blog for AfterTrauma, time taken to relax in green spaces proved especially important for my recovery from the significant trauma I experienced when I had my accident. It continues to remain an important part of my ongoing health and wellbeing today. So, if you can, get outdoors, relax and enjoy.

If you enjoyed reading this you may like to visit my other blog/website where you will find more pieces that touch on the arts, medicine, poetry, and more.

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All the best