I’ve started taking a Tai Chi class, offered at a local Karate Dojo in town. This Dojo offers two group classes and one individual class per week as part of it’s package.
I wasn’t so sure I was going to like it, when my friend (who’s going for the Kenpo lessons) invited me to go. I’ve tried Tai Chi videos in the past (in the 1990’s when there still was videos), and just didn’t like how slow it was. I have been looking for a way to introduce a bit more formal exercise in my life again, so thought I’d try it.
I love it.
Maybe because there’s other people, it doesn’t seem as slow as I remember it from way back in the 90’s. Or maybe, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve slowed down a bit, so it seems about the correct tempo. I don’t know.
What I know is that this is something that’s both fun and challenging for me. My muscles let me know I’ve been working out after the hour long group sessions. You wouldn’t think standing in “horse stance” for forty five minutes would be so hard. Errr, yeah. Just shows how out of shape I have allowed myself to become.
The other thing I noticed is that this exercise is having another, unforeseen benefit: it’s grounding me more into my body.
With having to remember so many things at once — standing in horse stance, walking in half moon, then the arm movements, oh, and don’t forget the deep breathing — I’m having to be very aware of my body. It’s a new and unusual experience for me.
I’ve spent a good part of my life trying not to feel my body. I dissociated a lot, for many different reasons. This is part of the reason I still don’t know when I’m hungry (or conversely, when I’m full). I just am not that in tune with my own body.
Yesterday, during the private lesson, the instructor and I were working on my deep breathing, opening up the diaphragm. The progression of sensations astonished me. First, I never realized how shallow I normally breath. Then, as I was breathing into the diaphragm, the muscles around it became sore. I was able to use that as a metric for a little bit on if I was breathing deeply or not. Until I just dissociated from my body again.
This is both frustrating and thrilling at the same time. I had a part of the lesson where I could use my body to tell me if I was doing something correctly or not. I had a part of the lesson I was able to actually feel the feedback my body was giving me. This is definitely progress for me.
Being able to inhabit my body more fully and dissociate less is a good thing. Even if I wasn’t getting any other benefits from Tai Chi, this would make it worth it. Of course, the benefits from the exersizes, such as increased strength and balence, are nice too.