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The Dragon's Head Blog: Pain relief in isolation

Taoist Tai Chi® arts – my saviour 
Being introduced to Tai Chi by a friend was the beginning of a very positive chapter of my life. 
Needing two hip replacements did not make it easy to exercise. However, with Tai Chi I found both a physical and mental improvement. The slow and intense movement helped me focus on my well-being rather than my pain.

My first hip replacement in January 2019 brought some relief. Including Dan Yus and other foundation movements with my exercises regime helped me on a limited yet positive journey.

I had a second hip replacement in January 2020. Again Tai chi was a massive part of my recovery. I am now pain free and able to attempt more movements within the set.

My return to class sessions was put on hold due to coronavirus but joining a class WhatsApp group was a welcome addition to my every day life. It was an invisible tap on the shoulder to continue with my practice. Also the challenges set brought more focus. Reading posts from other members are encouraging and inspiring at a time when the world is setting its own challenges. Bridget 

Over the years I felt a strong need to help others with their tai chi and along the way have developed the understanding that you cannot help someone else unless you have understanding of it yourself.  I have also come to realise over that time that I have been slower to progress because, despite understanding and talking about the importance of discipline, quietness/stillness and self-awareness, I find it much harder to put into practice for myself.

Not having the distraction of class at any stage over the weeks ‘isolation’ that come through the pandemic has bought me into a greater realisation that this is the area that I most need to work on, hard as I might find that.

I have increased the number of dan yus I do at one time and, whilst my legs have no problem with this, when I get up to around 80 I start to feeling tightness and pain in my shoulders.  I do have shoulder damage and I am also quite a tense person ‘by nature’, but am aware that I should be able to reach a stage where these points are not relevant.  Having not fully succeeded in resolving the problem through adjusting my arm positions, I became aware that without focussing my eyes constantly at the correct alignment in space I was impeding my ability to relax sufficiently inside to avoid the pain.

Doing the dan yu exercise at home means that I am not always looking at a ‘flat screen’ (as in a wall) and my eyes can easily wander towards something off-centre.  I then noticed that, when the pain in my shoulders starts, if I ensure that my eyes are not off-centre by even a few degrees, this improves my balance sufficiently to ease the pain.  This is not the first time that I have experienced an internal adjustment from appropriate focus with the eyes (previously it happened during tor yus at a workshop), but it brought clearly to mind not only that my physical balance was better but that I very much need to work much harder now on the self-discipline, quietness/stillness, focus and the self-awareness that comes from that.  This is my challenge now. Mike

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