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The Dragon's Head Blog: Individual, daily practice – because it works…

Around five months before lockdown, I moved somewhere where there are no classes for Taoist Tai ChiTM arts… the tai chi desert! So for me zoom class calls during lockdown have actually been an improvement on the amount of input I usually get! We talk a bit about how we’re all getting on, which is lovely to hear about, and has helped me figure some stuff out more clearly myself.

I’ve been working on daily solo practice (oh, how I miss class!) and managing my health and wellbeing. I have multiple sclerosis, and my energy levels are whacky. They rise and dip down in waves. When I’m headed for a dip, I know that I can’t do too much because I tire so easily and get sick if I overdo it. But if I do nothing at all and just rest, it will actually get worse. Too much rest has a stagnating effect – I’ll be in a downward spiral before I know it, and a bad one can last weeks. Thankfully, while anything strenuous can deplete me further, relaxed and light activity actually helps.

Tai Chi is the absolute bee’s knees for this! I think there’s two main reasons. First, the movements use all of my body, stretching it and stopping the stagnation, without overstraining any one part of it. It has me sending gentle, controlled signals that keep the pathways open without knackering me out.  Also, it’s meditative, which calms my nervous system. That’s very important to me because it can become hypersensitive, firing off signals in a frenzy.

If I’m gentle with myself, Tai Chi can actually enhance my energy. It doesn’t ‘undo’ a dip exactly, but it supports me where I am, and I can work to head off the downward trend.

So when I feel it coming on, I take myself into the garden, often in pyjamas! – and ward it off with my regular exercises, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time. A whole new meaning for ‘ward off monkey!’

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