Today: Jul 14, 2024

Tai Chi for Wellness’ sake

Jennifer Fengler, Special to Southern News-

Everyone slowly raised both hands making an “OK” sign with one and pointing with the other, continuing to simultaneously change each hand to reflect the other hand’s sign. Each time the hand signals were switched, students tried to do the movement faster without messing up. This was just one of the exercises that guest speaker Rich Szeligowski, an expert on Tai Chi and martial arts, had everyone do at the Wellness Appreciation event. 

“The reason it’s good for you mentally is because any sort of coordination, especially having to balance the two halves of the body, forces communication between the two hemispheres of the brain which actually builds new neuron connections between both sides of the brain,” said Szeligowski.

Standing on a balance board for two or three minutes can give a similar type of benefit.

“That constant instability that forces communication between your feet and your brain does increase intelligence believe it or not,” said Szeligowski.

Szeligowski played football in high school and has been practicing Tai Chi for a little over seven years now. 

“I feel a lot better and have more of a relaxed mind,” said Szeligowski. 

Tai Chi translates to English as “Supreme Ultimate” and refers to the Yin-Yang concept.

Tai Chi was first introduced in the United States by Cheng Mung-Ch’ing, a Chinese doctor, practitioner and painter. 

“There’s this view of the world, this view of the universe, that there’s no fixed absolute truth,” said Szeligowski. “Everything is relevant and everything is changing into everything else. That’s what they sort of ejected into the Tai Chi movements.”

Yang Cheng-Fu, the first to introduce Tai Chi in a style that would benefit people’s health, did one thing: made it popular around the world. 

Tai Chi has been proven to increase a person’s life span too. A man Szeligowski knows of, who practiced Tai Chi, lived to be one 103 years old.

“One of my old Tai Chi teachers is 75 years old and he can jump around about as high as my waist,” said Szeligowski.

Another exercise that was done as part of Szeligowski’s lesson on Tai Chi at Southern was for everyone to hold out both hands with their palms facing each other for awhile and then try moving them towards or away from each other to feel the bio electric energy between them.

Jason Polakowski said the most interesting part of Szeligowski’s presentation was this very exercise. 

“You could definitely feel the energy,” said Polakowski. “It was kind of cool to have that feeling between your hands when nothing was really there.”

One of the main concepts Tai Chi uses is bio electricity. Developing bio electricity in Tai Chi increases awareness of the body and makes it easier to use the body more efficiently. Tai Chi meditation usually involves either the breath or movement of the body which relieves stress.

“If I’m mentally tense, I will be physically tense,” said Szeligowski. “If I’m physically tense there’s a higher tendency to have more mental chatter, more of the inability to mentally relax and focus.” 

Casci Canada and Polakowski said they will both look into taking Tai Chi classes.

“It would be a good stress reliever over all so I think it would be a good thing to have,” said Polakowski.

Relaxation is very crucial and one of the first steps in developing any of the qualities that are needed in Tai Chi.

“I think it was absolutely great to give the students and people who were here a different perspective on an activity they could do for their health,” said Brigitte Stiles

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