Tai chi a great way to lead a better life

We have spent a good amount of time in Hong Kong over the years. One favorite thing was watching people in the parks practicing a slow ritualized set of movements every morning: tai chi.

What amazed us was that many of these people were very old. Having watched our parents struggle with balance issues and falls, this looked like something we should learn.

Tai chi is an exercise that evolved from martial arts and practiced for both the health benefits it offers and as a meditative exercise. It is a graceful series of movements performed in a slow, focused way. Because it is done slowly, with joints aligned properly, it can be done by people of all ages.

Nearly two years ago, we took a tai chi class at The Art Center. It was tailored for senior issues such as how to stand properly for least damage to our joints.

The instructor, Mark Posey, also worked on balance issues, stair climbing, and getting up from a chair or the floor.

We wanted to continue with tai chi and learned Mark has taught for more than 25 years and currently offers classes at Colorado Tai Chi, 1938 N. First St., No. 10.

We started in a beginner class about 10 months ago and now find ourselves more limber and stable with less snap and crackle when we move. Kent swears it has reduced the arthritis symptoms in his hands.

We like Mark's teaching style. He is a gentle perfectionist with the emphasis on gentle (well, and perfectionist, too).

Our class moves at a slow pace as we learn the detailed movements of the "24 Form," a version of tai chi with 24 separate postures. We are at movement No. 13 now.

There is about a dozen people in our class, ranging in age from mid-30s to 70s. The movements are taught slowly with focus on correct form. Mark uses the martial arts context to explain why a movement is done in a certain way. This makes it easier to remember the positioning of arm and leg movements.

Tai chi is a confidence building exercise you can do through your life and this confidence is a key to preventing falls. Fear of falling has been found to be a predictor for elder falls and impacts quality of life. Confidence from tai chi reduces this fear and increases quality of life.

Mark is an inspirational instructor with an interesting background that influenced his approach to tai chi.

First, he was a dancer in a professional dance troupe (ballet, modern and jazz). Then he was a kung fu and tai chi student. All of these require meticulous care of body and joint positioning to avoid injury and to even perform some of the moves.

His focus is exactly what we need to reduce pain, remove stress (not just manage it) and move through life more easily.

There are two important benefits of tai chi for us. One is that when you are doing the movements, your whole mind is occupied. The left side of the body is doing something different from the right side of the body. Your in a zone of concentration that leaves no room for all those little daily aggravations. No space to worry about finances, politics, jobs or anything else.

"No pain, no gain" is the antithesis of tai chi. If you feel pain, you are doing something wrong. We like that.

For Mark, the goals of tai chi are to "live a healthier, happier and longer life." Those speak to us.

Please note that Colorado Tai Chi is not a drop-in business. If you are interested, you need to call or email Mark and set up an appointment.

We are believers. We hope you will join us.

The Browns have a curiosity streak that runs broad and deep. So far it hasn't gotten them in too much trouble, and its rewards have been great. They are curious what interesting places you have found. Send your ideas to BrownsAroundTown@outlook.com. Their column appears the first Friday of every month.

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