Every new school term a new class begins. New students, new faces, new complications. By that I mean a whole new set of health problems that people are hoping to fix through Tai Chi.
This is where warm-ups are so important! Get the body moving with gentle movements BEFORE starting the Tai Chi section of the lesson, so that the muscles and joints are ready for action, not ready for damage!
Week after week, I stand in front of the class, and remind my students to only move as far as is comfortable for them. Sometimes you can see a grimace of pain on their face, others nod in agreement. I always tell them to get their doctors O.K. before doing any form of exercise, and I tell them that just because Mrs. Smith in the front row can turn her head further than anyone else, doesn’t mean that everyone can or should move that far.
Eventually, my students start to listen to their own bodies, and they stretch and move to their own limits. It’s wonderful to see, there are no more grimaces, just small smiles of pleasure. They lose their self consciousness, and start to enjoy the warm-ups and cool-downs as much as the rest of the lesson.
Warm-ups are so important, but they must be done right, they must be done slowly, and they must be done to each persons own range of motion, or they’ll end up doing more damage than good.
Usually after 3-4 weeks, one of the students will tell me that they haven’t had a migraine for 2 weeks, or that they can now sleep for 6 hours instead of three. Some of these revelations are astounding! But these people all say that they do the warm-ups every morning, because they felt so good the first time they did them in class that they wanted the benefit all week, not just for one day.
I always encourage them in this, after all, if they’re doing the warm-ups every day, then they are also doing the Tai Chi every day, I hope!
Sue Airs, TC4A Instructor.