Teaching Tai Chi
Teaching tai chi for those with cerebral palsy (CP) has been adapted to suit the needs of the clients here at Cerebral Palsy Midlands. The movements alone involve complex movements of the arms , and breathing needs to be co-ordinate . Regardless of needing physical ability and good cognition, there are some things everyone in the tai-chi classes can do. They can all breathe, and they have an imagination. And they follow a simple mantra ‘If you can breathe you can do it.’ And its true because qigong (the tai chi discipline I teach) is actually focussed on working with qi (energy) And that energy is focussed by the breath.
Everyone is welcome to attend a session and attend a class, regardless of any impairmany disability, impairments or additional needs. My instructions to anyone who comes to my classes are simple.
The moves can be done sitting down.
Work at 70% of your maximum ability
If it hurts don’t do it
Find your own breath and your own rhythm for the moves
All of which can be condensed as ‘do what feels right to you’
Qigong is designed to promote well being on several levels. Based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) , any illness is seen is being due to blockage of energy flow within the body, an imbalance of yin and yang energy types with the body. The energy flow can be interrupted by poor posture which closes off ‘energy gates’ So physically qigong encourages good posture, and use of the core abdominal muscles to promote easy flow of qi. But qi is also moved by the mind. Thats what martial artists do when they break bricks with their hands.In fact they channel their qi to their hand and THAT is what the breaks the brick. And lastly the slow rhythmic
movements are very mindful - and mindfulness is now recognised as being useful as part of stress management whatever the cause of stress.
So what do my CP pupils get out of a class?
Well largely what they take from it. And that will vary depending on both the physical and cognitive abilities. I modify what I teach , use a lot of visual imagery , and I also include short mindfulness meditations between moves and at both ends. The physically able young lady with severe cognitive impairment and learning difficulties has started saying ‘ feel good’ at the end of the sessions. Others with no vocalisation and severe physical impairment give me smiles that would light up a Christmas tree. Others are anxious to tell me how beneficial they find it. Some have started doing some moves at home, or practising mindfulness at home.
When I walk into the centre my regulars rush to get to the room they are so eager to start. They use their breath, they used their minds, they use their arms and legs as much as they can, oras much they understand. I am demonstrating the moves physically. Between us we are all improving our qi, and its a group effort. The energy of the whole class is changed and everyone benefits in some way. The main thing they take from my glass is relaxation, literally a ‘feel good’ factor. And believe me, when I walk away from my classes at the centre - they are not the only ones feeling good!
Written by tutor Sally Haynes-Preece from Krystal Wolf Holistic Care.
Tai Chi weekly Schedule:
Fridays at 11.00am
To trial a session, for enquiries and bookings please contact Sally Haynes-Preece, our Tai-Chi instructor by email firstname.lastname@example.org.