Monday, June 12, 2023

How writers can benefit from Tai-Chi - by Vijaya Schartz

 My love affair with Tai-Chi started over a decade ago, with two writing friends from my critique group, who wanted to exercise, to compensate for the long hours of writing, sitting in front of a computer. But they were older than me, had never been to a gym, and had a few health issues, so they didn’t want to exert themselves doing strenuous aerobics. They were looking for some mind-body discipline with a meditative or spiritual component, like yoga, but more active.

I had exercised intensely most of my adult life, but not for several years, and I decided it might be good for me to do something physical, get back into the swing of things slowly, gradually, instead of rushing into high impact exercises. So, I agreed to take that brand-new Tai-Chi class with them, close to where we lived… but I didn’t intend to do it forever. I saw it as a short transition to “real exercise.” As soon as I shed a few pounds to look decent in yoga pants, I was going back to the gym.

It’s funny how things work out. I had a solid background in Japanese martial arts (Judo, Karate, Aikido), and I soon realized the connections with Tai-Chi, which, I learned, is not just beautiful, flowing movements, but a Chinese discipline practiced by all the great martial artists. They do it to keep their skills sharp, as every form is a soft version of a fighting move. It also works with gathering and redirecting energy.

An in-depth study by the Harvard Medical School determined a slew of health benefits for recovering patients who practiced Tai-Chi. Here are some of them from the very long list of improvements: balance, posture, muscles, bone density, metabolism, weight loss, cardio function, stamina, glucose processing, cholesterol levels, joints flexibility, sleep, healing, memory, brain power, relaxation. It also relieves stress, pain, inflammation, depression, ADHD… and the list goes on.

From the first class, I was hooked. I fell in love with Tai-Chi instantly. I found such peace and serenity by emptying my mind, focusing on my body and the flow of energy, executing complicated moves that forced my mind to work in different ways. Tai-Chi is both mental and physical. Mind and body are involved. It has been called Meditation in Motion, and Stillness in Motion, and for good reason.

During the pandemic I practiced a lot to compensate for the lack of social activities. After practicing Tai-Chi for over ten years, I was offered an opportunity to teach. Now, I teach seniors four days a week, in Glendale and in Surprise, west of Phoenix, Arizona. Recently we celebrated World Tai-Chi Day at Sahuaro Ranch Park, and I was delighted to see so many of my students show up for the occasion.

I still take classes to improve myself. Right now, I'm studying the Tai-Chi Pole technique with my teacher, the head of Southwest Tai-Chi, Charles Gill.

Tai-Chi, also helps me focus on my stories and my characters. The warriors in my books benefit from my knowledge of Martial Arts. If you like action and adventure with a hint of paranormal and romance, check out my titles at these online outlets.

Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

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