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http://www.worldtaichiday.org/LIBRARYArticles/LIBRARYTaiChiPARKINSONS.html

 

Parkinson’s Disease & TAI CHI THERAPY
 

by Bill Douglas


 

In a special to CNN, the Mayo Clinic’s mayoclinic.com reported that, “Parkinson's disease is progressive, meaning the signs and symptoms become worse over time. But although Parkinson's may eventually be disabling, the disease often progresses gradually, and most people have many years of productive living after a diagnosis.” This would indicate that there may be effective interventions that could perhaps slow the progress of the disease. When we get such a diagnosis, our first reaction might be to withdraw and give up. However, the old adage “use it or lose it” tells us that just the opposite is true. If you have Parkinson’s, you’d likely be best off to use everything your body is, every which way, on a regular basis.

 

Tai Chi movement’s gentle balance enhancing motions can obviously help the Parkinson’s patient by helping to reduce the gradual lose of balance that Parkinson’s sufferers often experience. However, there may be much more it offers. For example, Tai Chi movements rotate the human body in about 95% of the ways the body can move, when a long form is practiced. This is far beyond what other exercise offers, and in fact the closest would be several swimming strokes, which together would only rotate the body in about 65% of the ways it can move. For Parkinson’s sufferers, or anyone for that matter, this would indicate that by “using” 95% of the body’s possible motion several times a week, the possibility of “losing” the ability to do so diminishes accordingly. This isn’t rocket science, but simple common sense. Yet, perhaps Parkinson’s patients have even more to gain from Tai Chi.

 

A few years ago I taught several classes at local medical centers. I was continually frustrated because although I’d seen emerging reports that Tai Chi was beneficial to people with Parkinson’s Disease, or arthritis, or chronic hypertension, etc., even though the departments that specialized in those conditions were often just down the hall from my Tai Chi class . . . they might as well have been a million miles away. Because the physicians who ran those departments were either ignorant of or unwilling to refer their patients to the possibilities that Tai Chi offered their lives.

 

I remember though, that at one medical center a visionary neurologist began to refer patients with balance disorders to my Tai Chi classes and the result was very beneficial for his patients. Another physician actually wrote prescriptions for my Tai Chi classes to treat the chronic hypertension of his patients, who’d seen a significant drop in their blood pressure since beginning the classes weeks before. A clinical psychologist brought me in to teach Qigong (Chi Kung) meditation and Tai Chi to her patient group to enhance their sense of well being and provide effective stress management training. So, even back then some physicians were seeing the potential Tai Chi offered their clients, and even more are now, but the number of physicians who are still not informing their patients of Tai Chi’s direct therapeutic or at the least adjunct therapy benefits to their patient’s efforts to deal with their conditions and life, is increasingly indefensible in this day and age. Given the research that has exposed the many physical, mental, and emotional benefits Tai Chi offers, for physicians to not educate themselves on this and share their knowledge with each and every patient is tantamount to mal-practice. Health educators should likewise be making such therapies part of their medical student education programs as well.
 

Tai Chi for Parkinson’s is being recommended increasingly by support groups and some progressive medical centers, but until everyone that has Parkinson’s knows about it, then our work at World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is not done, nor is the medical community’s. There are many obvious reasons everyone with Parkinson’s should be doing Tai Chi, but it’s the ones that are not yet obvious that may be the most intriguing. One obvious reason is that Tai Chi is the most powerful balance and coordination enhancing exercise known. In many studies at major universities Tai Chi was found to be TWICE as effective in reducing falls as the other balance enhancing exercises being studied. For people with Parkinson’s, who often see their balance deteriorate as their condition progresses, it is unforgivable for them to not be informed of Tai Chi’s potential benefits at the earliest stage possible while their balance is still good.
 

Now, regarding the less obvious reasons Tai Chi may benefit Parkinson’s patients. Both my wife and daughter, who co-taught a Tai Chi class together noticed that a young man with severe Parkinson’s tremors . . . completely lost his tremors once he joined the class in flowing through the Tai Chi movements in class. In another class I was teaching an older man with advanced Parkinson’s attended my classes for many months, and he always came in very slow with his walker. Once we began the Tai Chi movements he no longer used his walker, and had learned the entire long form of Tai Chi I taught, which was over 15 minutes of continuous changing forms. His form was unique and tailored for his limitations, but nonetheless a challenging set of exercises he was able to accomplish without the use of his walker.

 

What do these anecdotal experiences portend for others with Parkinson’s? I don’t know, but there should be massive research dollars coming from the National Institutes of Health to find out. Given the promise Tai Chi seems to offer people on so many profound physical, emotional, and mental fronts from preliminary research, the current total research money earmarked for complimentary and alternative medicine’s (CAM) is a mere pittance.
 

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), now in its sixth year, supports more than 300 research projects and has an estimated budget of over $120 million for 2005 (up from $50 million in 1999). Total spending on CAM by all NIH institutes and centers is expanding as well, and is expected to reach $315 million by 2005.
 

Sounds like a lot? However, $120 million is less than “one half of one percent” of the total NIH FY2005 budget. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges the NIH’s total annual budget for FY 2005 is $28.8 billion (http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/05pch8.htm). Remember, we are talking about only spending much much less than one half of one percent to study an exercise that preliminary research has shown to:

 

n Lower High Blood Pressure (about 1/3 of Americans have hypertension – roughly over 90 million Americans)

n Boost Immune Function profoundly (a study sited at drkoop.com indicates that a Tai Chi practicing group was TWICE as resistant to the shingles virus, and researchers believed this would carry over to other viral resistance as well.)

n Dramatically reduce falling injuries by about half (complications from falling injuries in older Americans is the 6th leading cause of death for seniors in America)

 

If Tai Chi only addressed this chronic condition affecting 1/3 of Americans, while boosting the immune system of all practitioners profoundly, and cutting in half the sixth leading cause of death for seniors, without any negative side effects, that would seem to be, for the rational person a reason for pouring massive resources into researching it further. However, Tai Chi’s benefits only begin with the above preliminary findings. We also know that it may very well relieve depression, anxiety, and mood disturbance, as well as reduce ADHD symptoms in teenagers diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. There are indications that Tai Chi may greatly reduce or even eliminate chronic pain conditions, and lessen allergic and asthmatic reactions, and improve overall respiratory function. My point is, “where is the massive attention this would garner on talk shows, and in health newspaper sections, if this were a drug or surgery that could provide such a seemingly massive breakthrough in health treatment?”

 

Peter Chowka, in a brilliant two part series for Natural Health Line, entitled “Complementary & Alternative Medicine in 2000,” wrote, “Conflicts of interest are not uncommon in most aspects of life. But in medicine, the biggest business in the U.S. (over $1.5 trillion a year constituting over 14 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine report issued January 10, 2001), serious conflicts are particularly well entrenched.”

 

Mr. Chowka wrote of physicians like Dr. Marcia Angell voicing concerns of the “troubling” result massive research money from drug and medical-equipment companies was having on the scientific process. In the New England Journal of Medicine’s May 18, 2000 issue, Dr. Angel wrote an editorial entitled, “Is Academic Medicine for Sale?” She wrote, "As we spoke with research psychiatrists about writing an editorial on the treatment of depression . . . we found very few who did not have financial ties to drug companies that make antidepressants. . .The problem is by no means unique to psychiatry. We routinely encounter similar difficulties in finding editorialists in other specialties, particularly those that involve the heavy use of expensive drugs and devices."

 

So, who can make a multi-billion dollar fortune teaching Tai Chi to people? No one can. Tai Chi cannot be bottled, or mass marketed. It is a decentralized labor intensive industry that employees many people, but keeps the profits small and local. Yes, there are videos and DVDs that teach Tai Chi effectively, but ultimately even those who utilize videos are drawn to live class like structures.

 

As I mentioned before with the “anecdotal” experiences of my students with Parkinson’s, Tai Chi seems to offer something profoundly beneficial to the quality of life of Parkinson’s sufferers. It needs further study. We are in a catch 22, where many health professionals feel they cannot recommend Tai Chi because too much of the preliminary research is anecdotal. However, when Tai Chi is jockeying for position to get a crumb of the .5% of total NIH money going to ALL complimentary and alternative medical therapies . . . the result will be many long years of millions of people suffering needlessly from conditions or symptoms of those conditions that Tai Chi could likely safely lessen or even eliminate.


WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT TAI CHI AND PARKINSONS?

 

Tai Chi is being recommended by some forward thinking medical institutions already. The Cleveland Clinic of Neuroscience Center encourages Parkinson's Disease patients to seek out a hobby or activity they can enjoy and stick with such as “Tai Chi” and other activities. The Alexian Neurosciences Institute in Illinois offers a course in their The Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center. Also, the American Parkinson’s Disease Association at Stanford University Medical Center, in it’s “Beyond Pills.... Alternative Approaches to Coping with Parkinson's Disease” program, offered “Tai Chi, The Art for Living with Parkinson's” by Mwezo & Jane of Kujiweza Healing Arts. (Learn more at: http://parkinsons.stanford.edu/symposium.html). The Parkinson’s Society of Canada recommends Tai Chi for Parkinson’s patients, suggesting “Tai Chi may prevent or at least slow down the onset of degenerative diseases; in the long run, it can reduce need for rehabilitative care.” (http://www.parkinsons.ca/managing.html#taichi)
 

In a Mayo Clinic article entitled, "Essential tremor," (http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?objectid=F6E4B5CA-
03A1-41F8-B2D3FC0DDFB12021), their Self Care section of the article recommends Tai Chi as an effective therapy for reducing tremors. The Mayo Clinic report suggests, "Learn to relax. Stress tends to make tremors worse and a relaxed state often improves them . . . Although it's not possible to e

In the United Kingdom a Parkinson’s Tai Chi study was conducted at Camborne Redruth Community Hospital, Cornwall. Their conclusion of the study was such, “Tai Chi training was well tolerated by PD patients in this study, but had no measurable effect on motor performance using UPDRS score or GAG time. There was a non-significant improvement in quality of life scores (PDQ 39). Larger studies would be needed fully to evaluate the value and efficacy of Tai Chi. However our results are encouraging, and provide evidence for its safety and tolerability and would support the feasibility of further study.” (http://www.pdcornwall.org.uk/showarticle.pl?n=30&id=81)
 

WCHS TV during a news report focusing on Tai Chi’s ability to boost immune system function, also reported that “Tai Chi has also been shown to help illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and arthritis.” (http://www.wchstv.com/newsroom/healthyforlife/2177.shtml)
 

The Neurology Channel reported, “The slow flowing movements of Tai Chi help maintain flexibility, balance, and relaxation. The Struthers Parkinson’s Center in Minneapolis, which teaches a modified form of Tai Chi, consistently reports benefits achieved by patients in all stages of Parkinson’s.” (http://www.neurologychannel.com/parkinsonsdisease/surgery.shtml)
 

Physicians at the Mayo Clinic recommend Tai Chi for Parkinson’s therapy, under their Parkinson’s “self-care” section for avoiding falls, where they suggest you “Ask your doctor or physical therapist about exercises that improve balance, especially tai chi. Originally developed in China more than 1,000 years ago, tai chi uses slow, graceful movements to relax and strengthen muscles and joints. “
 

At a popular health website called “RemedyFind.com” viewers can vote on therapies they’ve found benefited their condition, or didn’t benefit it. The rating there for Tai Chi as a Parkinson’s therapy received a rating of 9.8 out of a possible 10. (http://remedyfind.com/rem.asp?ID=13945)
 

A Study at the University of Florida in Jacksonville found that patients who attended Tai Chi classes for one hour each week for 12-weeks were less likely than a group of control patients to experience an increase in the severity of their condition and a decrease in motor function. . . .[of alternative therapies] the most popular therapies being Tai Chi, yoga, and acupuncture. (http://www.worldhealth.net/p/275,1526.html), (SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.reutershealth.com on the 13th November 2002)
 

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported, “Parkinson’s Meets It’s Match in Tai Chi.” In this article they write that Dr. Mark Guttman, director of the Centre for Movement Disorders in Markham, Ontario, recommends people with Parkinson's do exercises that involve a lot of stretching, similar to the movements of tai chi.
 

"Tai chi is wonderful; it can help people with disabilities as well as people with Parkinson's," he says. He added that studies on animals show exercise induces a change in the brain that prevents the symptom’s of Parkinson’s from emerging.
 

The Tai Chi teacher for this program, Ms. Embree, spoke of how people with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, and Parkinson’s often attend her classes . . . “Doctors are now sending people here," adds Ms Embree. (for the entire article, go to: PARKINSON’S MEETING IT’S MATCH IN TAI CHI, April, 13, 2005, http://www.ajc.com/health/content/health/0304/lvtaichi7.html)

 

At the National Parkinson’s Foundation site, Melanie M. Brandabur, MD; NPF Center of Excellence, University of Illinois at Chicago and Jill Marjama-Lyons, MD; NPF Center of Excellence, Shands Jacksonville, wrote, “Most patients derive a great deal of benefit from today's medications and surgical therapies for Parkinson's Disease . . . However, benefits of these therapies can be limited. As time goes by, the medications may not seem as effective as they once were. Side effects or unpredictable response may develop. Surgical therapies are not curative and often treat only selected aspects of Parkinson's Disease. For these reasons, patients may decide to explore other modalities, such as massage therapy, Tai Chi, yoga, or herbal preparations to augment their Parkinson's medication . . . Many patients with Parkinson's Disease have become interested in complementary therapies to supplement medications and other traditional PD treatments. These physicians also suggest that as Tai Chi and other modalities benefits are exposed by clinical research, physicians will advocate their use more widely. (http://www.parkinson.org/site/pp.asp?c=9dJFJLPwB&b=238635)
 

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day joins a growing number of health professionals specializing in fields like Parkinson’s who believe that much more research needs to be done to illuminate the full spectrum of benefits Tai Chi offers all people as well as those specifically with chronic conditions. This will enable more physicians to make Tai Chi a regular prescription written as therapy or adjunct therapy for a host of maladies many are already enjoying the benefits of for their condition, but paying out of pocket for. Ultimately more and more health insurance plans should and will make Tai Chi classes a deductible medical expense for their clients. The end result of this shift may portend the savings of hundreds of billions of dollars annually in saved health care costs as patients are better trained in self care techniques, training the great visionary Thomas Edison referred to as “the care and maintenance of the human frame,” which Edison envisioned would more and more reduce the need for expensive surgeries and life long dependence on medications as human beings maximized their own self healing abilities. Traditional Chinese Medicine has spent centuries developing and evolving self healing technologies like Tai Chi. Now the west can learn about their results, and physicians can prescribe them to their patients and our entire society will be healthier and more abundant for it.

This article does not advocate self-treatment, but encourages all to engage their physicians in a wider discussions of prescribing health options, including Traditional Chinese Medical health options, like Tai Chi, that research is indicating may benefit a plethora of health issues people face.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, Founder of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong. Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. Bill is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). Bill is the author of the ebook, How to be a Successful Tai Chi Teacher (Namasta University Publishing). You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, search a worldwide teachers directory, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org

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Forgive me if this was posted in this thread already but is there a "go to" Tai Chi video that most PWP use? I will be joining my local Y in the next few months for other exercising but they don't offer Tai Chi and I would like to do it in my home. All I have read about it is so beneficial both physically and mentally. Just thought I would see what ya'll might recommend. 

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Forgive me if this was posted in this thread already but is there a "go to" Tai Chi video that most PWP use? I will be joining my local Y in the next few months for other exercising but they don't offer Tai Chi and I would like to do it in my home. All I have read about it is so beneficial both physically and mentally. Just thought I would see what ya'll might recommend. 

 

 

   Review this thread from the beginning and you'll find plenty.....

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http://www.taichiparkinsons.com/

 

(from the above blog)

 

 

It’s Friday morning and I meet my fellow Tai Chi practitioners in the park.  As we stand silently among the budding rose bushes and almond trees, I struggle to empty my mind. I feel nervous. Will I be able to get through the form?  Will the others notice my trembling hands?  Will I lose my balance while doing the kicks?  

My Tai Chi instructor, Arieh Breslow, slowly takes a deep breath, exhales and sinks into his right leg. We all begin to follow as he starts the form.  I take a deep breath of the cool Jerusalem air and exhale as I sink, telling myself to relax, relax.  As I progress through the form, I begin to gain confidence in my body.  Breathing deeply, sinking, flowing, relaxing, releasing tension, I realize that I can still do this.  I feel good.  I feel wonderful.   

Starting the form was not always filled with such trepidation. There was a time when I felt completely confident. But, Parkinson’s disease has changed that.  I had my first symptoms of Parkinson’s at the age of 49.  My left shoulder wasn’t moving easily during warm-up exercises and my left hand wasn’t always in the correct position when doing the Tai Chi form. At first, I shrugged it off as stiffness. A year later I developed a small tremor in my left hand and my arm didn’t swing properly when I walked. It was then that I decided to see a neurologist - I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. 

I knew that if I wanted to maintain a high quality of life, I would need to develop a program for coping with this disease. My doctor prescribed a cocktail of medications for reducing my symptoms, with a myriad of side effects.  This prompted me to investigate alternative approaches that would allow me to function as normally as possible.  My medical journey led me into Chinese herbal medicine and Ayurvedic treatments from a doctor in India, pressure-point massage and acupuncture from a Tibetan monk, and Yoga lessons. Although these treatments gave me some relief, I felt that none of them could match the combination of proper medication and Tai Chi.

Today, my personal program is based on three pillars:  medication, exercise (with Tai Chi as the basis), and a low-fat vegetarian diet high in antioxidants to protect and boost my remaining brain cells. The program is by no means static - I constantly adjust it to my changing medical condition. Over time, I’ve noticed the accumulative effects of my health regimen. A good Tai Chi workout seems to be as effective for me as taking a pill and the results of a session last for hours.   

Tai Chi is an internal martial art form that uses the mind to control the movements of the body. It helps you become aware of your body and the integration of each part with the whole. Visual imagery is used to help in this mind–body connection and to aid in movement and coordination. The slow, deliberate movements of the Tai Chi form can directly address many of the major Parkinson's symptoms. For example: 

<>·Preventing falls and developing flexibility - The constant sinking, turning, and shifting of weight in the Tai Chi form gives a tremendous workout to the legs and lower body. The constant transition from move to move stretches the hip and groin area strengthening the muscles and joints. Each stance ends with roots sunk deep into the ground, while remaining flexible like a tree in the wind.

<>·Balance - In Tai Chi, proper alignment of the body is obtained by tucking in the chin, raising the back of the neck slightly, and elongating the spine as if it is suspended from the top of the head like a string of pearls.  This “string” imagery relieves the stress on the back muscles, relaxes the shoulders and improves posture and balance.

<>·Rigidity and freezing - It is not unusual for Parkinson’s people to experience rigidity or to suddenly become frozen when walking. Concentrating on flowing like a river in the form produces beautiful even movements that are thrilling to experience.

Through Tai Chi, I get a sense of accomplishment and well being, knowing that I can still function relatively well and, in some cases better, than a person with no physical limitations. It has given me an acute awareness of my body, which parts are not aligned and how to bring them back into the whole of the body so that it functions as one unit.  Tai Chi has helped me to cope with Parkinson’s and has heightened my enjoyment of life.  

For a detailed account of my journey with Parkinson's, you can listen to my blog radio interview on Parkinson Recovery.   http://www.blogtalkradio.com/parkinsons-recovery/2009/12/03/pioneers-of-recovery
Edited by lethe
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It’s been almost a year since I started Tai Chi again and the changes have been remarkable, beyond expectations.

 

Sleep - before -  since my bad med reaction  almost ten years ago I had been unable to sleep more than  3 hours a night, and MMJ (medical marijuana) gave me an additional hour or two.

 

Now - I am sleeping better than ever, often sleeping 7 hours! I rarely wake-up and need MMJ to get back to sleep and I can comfortably lay in bed for a half hour awake but groggy. Sleeping is no longer a problem!!  The only thing is that no matter how late I stay up, I awake at 6am.  A BIG difference.

 

Balance – before – during off times, and sometimes on-times, I would often not walk a straight line. In trying to walk faster I would walk uneven which would be hard on my feet. I now walk much better, more relaxed with measured steps.

 

Before I had to avoid slow-running to catch a bus because I would lose my balance and fall forwards. Now I can confidently run to catch a bus, even while carrying heavyish bags.

 

My “sense of well-being” has improved and I am more stable, recovering from stressful situations faster.

 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, last summer I had to hold the grab-bar in the shower while washing.

 

Now I don’t need to hold the bar at all.

 

I am now confident that Tai Chi is at the top of the list as far as being a highly effective and easy to do, as a therapy for PD.

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I forgot to include in my last post regarding tai chi and my health the following:

 

Neuropathy- for the last 3 years or so I have had neuropathy - a strong numbness in my thighs and ankles, lack of feeling in several layers.  i realized in the last month that I have almost all feeling restored in my thighs and an improvement in my ankles.

 

Last summer I cut down on my leva-dopa - from 10 daily to 6, from 5 times a day to 3 times, from every 3 hours to every 4 hours, in hopes of lessening the dystonia. By fall the cramps lessened - from my whole foot it went down to just one toe.  Since than I have improved weekly - every week or two I noticed further improvements in my foot, more relaxed.  For this reason it is hard to gauge to what degree Tai Chi helped in weaning down meds.

 

What is strange is that when I'm late taking meds I get dyskenisia (sp?) and get spastic and tremors increase. I take my last med at 5 pm. I take my first at 9am.  But when I wake up I can walk normally, tho I have to stretch my foot every now and than for toe cramp. This makes me question taking the meds at all. I was originally taking mirapex for mild tremors, but after the bad med reaction i went onto 10 levadopa daily.

 

So its the meds that are casing the walking problems.

 

When I find a new specialist I will probably try getting of all meds and just go with tai chi and MMJ , both of which have proven highly effective.

 

Also - I usually run out of MMJ the last week or so of the month, so I get really squeemish, lose my appetite, tremors increase, and I don't feel like doing ANYTHING at all, I feel really terrible and just lay around, trying to sleep as the only form of "escape"

 

This month I ran out last Wednesday and have to wait until Tuesday, and even though I get antsy I am doing much better this month, periods of relative comfort and i am doing more this time, such as posting today. (still I can`t wait till Tuesday, and RELIEF!)

 

 

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http://www.taichimas...-tipping-point/

 

( reposted from march 2014)

Tai Chi Tipping Point: Will Tai Chi Go Viral?

By Tai Chi Master Bruce Frantzis

 

 

Is the Tai Chi tipping point on the horizon or not?

 

 

Everybody who has been involved in tai chi in the West for the past 10-15 years has known that tai chi is probably going to reach a tipping point were it really reaches the masses; where tai chi really becomes known to the public rather than being some strange exercise that hippies practice.

 

The simple fact still remains most of the public know little of the tremendous benefits of tai chi, how tai chi works or how to learn tai chi. Lets connect Malcolm Gladwell, Swami Vichinanda,Jane Fonda and Bruce Lee with the Tai Chi Tipping Point…

 

 

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, he describes the “three rules of epidemics” to determine the conditions for something to go viral. What needs to happen for tai chi to meet these three rules and spread like crazy? And can we learn anything from the popularity of yoga in relation to tai chi?

 

Tai Chi Compared to Yoga

 

Yoga had been around in the West for over 115 years where, in contrast, tai chi has been around for less than half that time or about 40 years.

 

A little known fact is that the West’s awareness of yoga is generally considered to have been brought over by Swami Vichinanda in 1893 at the Parliament of World’s Religions. Yoga’s growth path was unremarkable for most of those years, until about 1980. So what caused yoga to take off in the 1980’s?

 

Well one reason is that some celebrities started promoting it. One of the foremost was Jane Fonda, who is also considered to have founded the aerobics movement. She is a Hollywood star and clearly one of the sex symbols of her generation. So when she started

practicing and promoting yoga many women got on board or more literally on the mat.

 

It is no great surprise that Yoga exploded in part because of Hollywood publicity as many trends are created there.

The Three Rules of Epidemics

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell says that there are Three Rules of Epidemics. Here is a short summary of the three rules:

  1. “The Law of the Few”—Gladwell states: “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” He goes on to talk about three types of people. Connectors link people up together. These people have massive social networks. Mavens are people who connect us with new information. Finally there are Salespeople who are good at persuading us to try or buy.
  2.  
  3. The Stickiness Factor—Stickiness is related to how a message is remembered and passed on. How much does something become the “topic of the day”?
  4. The Power of Context—Context is an important area taking into consideration the environment and conditions that would need to be present for a trend to go viral, such as demographics and value systems.

If we look the promotion of Yoga by Jane Fonda, we could say that she is a connector, a maven and a saleswoman all in one.  In the early 1980’s one of the big new inventions was the VCR, which dramatically helped the trend to become “sticky.” Finally, the population demographics of the baby boomer generation fit the slot where yoga and aerobics would be appealing. So we could say that yoga definitely meet all of Gladwell’s rules.

 

Who Does Tai Chi in China?

If we look at tai chi in China, 50 percent of all people who practice tai chi are over the age of 50. Tai chi is known for incredibly regenerating people’s bodies—making them healthy—and being one of the best longevity anti-aging programs (see my book Tai Chi: Health for Life).

 

Tai chi is the only non-impact exercise in the world that has a dramatic track record for reversing the aging process. Nothing else has the track record of tai chi. But still, up until the 1960’s when tai chi came to the United States, tai chi was an odd “thing” out there.

 

Some think tai chi is just a martial art, which is just not the truth. Others will say tai chi is a dance, and of course that is not the truth either.

 

What can be said in the current times is that most people associate tai chi with being somewhat good for your health. It is also becoming more well-known that tai chi is also good for all kinds of illnesses, including diabetes, arthritis and fall prevention.

 

However, what has been missing in the tai chi tipping point equation in terms of context in the West is very simple: The baby boomer generation population in America and Europe is only now starting to reach an age where tai chi has real appeal. When you are in your 20’s and 30’s the idea of a low-impact exercise for longevity just doesn’t have the same attraction as it does for a person as they age . When you’re young, you more typically climb mountains, run long distances and do other higher-impact sports.

 

The baby boomer population has finished running their marathons, buying houses, tried and given up psychedelics, and gone through the householder stage . They are now just entering a completely new phase whereby health, extending their life and releasing stress is of utmost importance. They want to see their grandkids grow up.

 

Enter Tai Chi

 

To some extent, whatever the baby boomer generation decides to do, the entire society follows because they constitute something like 30-40 percent of the population. As a result a lot of money follows the boomers along with marketing and paradigm shifts.

 

The tai chi community has been saying for about 10 years, maybe even 15 years, “Well, ya know the baby boomers are about 40, 45, and 50.” Well right now we are in the slot because the first wave is coming when they start hitting 60.

 

Baby boomers will finally be confronted with their own mortality. The earlier vanities of youth will flip into the cold hard realities of getting older. This is when many may jump on board with tai chi. As I have said elsewhere, tai chi really is the foremost preventative healthcare solution on the planet. Here is the demographics in the US from the year 2000.

 

US-Population-2000-for-Tai-Chi.png

You can see from the graph the bulge that represents the boomers (note this chart is 10 years old). We’ve now reached the point where the first edge of baby boomers has tweaked over the 60-years-old bracket. The largest segment is just reaching 50, which just happens to be the same age in China when most people start practicing tai chi.

 

What makes Tai Chi sticky?

So what could create “The Stickiness Factor”? You’d have to be living in a cave not to recognize that for the past 15 years the level of general stress in America and Europe is escalating to the point where even medical associations are saying that it is the greatest cause of disease.

 

Tai chi is the one exercise that actually focuses on relaxing your nerves; yoga doesn’t even really do that. With the exception of yin or Taoist yoga, most yoga is not taught with releasing the nerves as a primary focus.

 

Tai chi (and also qigong of which tai chi is a subdivision) systematically trains your nervous system to relax. Tai chi is about relaxation. Relaxation is the opposite of stress and stress is a fancy word for tension. Tai chi is an antidote for tension.

 

Tai chi’s main selling point is not that you are going to look good, but that you’re actually and truly going to feel better. And it’s not a psychological thing about “everybody loves me.” When you wake up with aches and the pains and stress that kills you, you don’t feel good.

 

People get hooked on tai chi when they hit the “aha” moment where they realize they have a fewer pains and also can relax the nagging thoughts and stressful events that overwhelm the system.

It can be said that a large number of people who start and continue practicing tai chi get REAL results or they wouldn’t bother with it. Tai chi works. It addresses the biggest issue of our times directly—relaxation to counter the stress. It also doesn’t take five years of practice five hours a day to feel results. You generally feel results rather quickly, especially if you are training with a qualified tai chi teacher.

 

I might also mention another important aspect that makes tai chi sticky. In most cases tai chi is practiced in groups. This in itself is “sticky” because people like to get together, socialize and practice together. I have seen time and time again long-term bonds and friendships form in tai chi groups. As more and more tai chi groups form, the entire tai chi movement will build.

For tai chi to take off, it will need to be a grassroots trend. I have witnessed it happening in both China and America.

 

The unblocking move is that people have to realize that they can do tai chi in gym clothes. You don’t have to wear some fancy silk outfit. As tai chi makes it way into gyms and parks the momentum will pick up and it will spread quickly. The last point here is that tai chi does not generally require a massive investments – most tai chi classes are affordable and compared to the cost of healthcare tai chi is a great bargain

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For the last few months I've been going to a Tai Chi class at a YMCA, but it was about an hour from my house. I've learned in that time the 18 fan form and become acquainted with the 24 Yung form, mainly from trying to follow as they used it each week as a review and warm-up. All good, but I knew from having the DVD that there was no attempt in the class to do an official warm-up exercises; it was all based on just learning the forms. Additionally, I failed to practice it each day, so it was a once-a-week event for me.

 

Then I happened to run across an ad in our local paper about the Highland Lakes Tai Chi class that was starting up. It is about a 30 minute drive and most importantly, inexpensive. Donation based, so one could take it free. I went to it last Friday, and the instructor seemed to know his stuff. He starts one out in the "Fundamentals" class. Once you graduate from it, then you can go to the standard Tai Chi class where you learn the forms. And this instructor stresses daily practice, and that if you don't, you can end up "holding the whole class back," and I think if it were bad enough, he might "expel' one from class. So there is motivation to do the practice.

 

That said, the weekend was so crazy busy I'd not touched it until today. Just went through the warm up exercises and some of the Qi Gong exercises he taught us in the Qi Gong class that immediately followed.

 

I do have one question for anyone here. When I'm doing the "Hugging the Tree" position, my hands start shaking and my left arm gets tight, like holding any such position instead of moving brings out the worst of my symptoms. I can't even last 5 minutes in that position. Does anyone have any tips on how to minimize that, and/or modifications one can make with holding positions like that. As long as I'm moving, I might shake some, but I'm okay. It is the holding postures that give me fits, even like just doing Wuji position.

 

Of interest, I was told by the instructor that one other person in that class has PD. I didn't get a chance to meet him, so maybe this coming Friday. Maybe we can "work out" together some.

 

Anyway, I was excited to find a fuller Tai Chi class closer in at a low cost (they request a one-time donation of $25 which I provided), and that should motivate me to make this a standard part of my daily life, as hard as that will be. Some days it is just so hard to carve out an hour for doing it. Like this past Saturday, my wife and I woke up and left the house at 8:30 am to go to Zumba and Hydro Fit, eat lunch, go clean a trailer for a move-out/make-ready trailer, which took us 7 hours, grab a bite to eat for supper, then it was almost midnight. And I still had to prep for church services the next morning. Just no where in that day I could have done any Tai Chi, save not going to my other regular exercises, which isn't going to happen for more than one reason. I'll just do the best I can, but at least it should motivate me to do more than I did before. I put in my time today, for instance.

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Rick -- we called it the "holding the sun" -- but arms around in a circle, and elbows up.  I've worked up to 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Starting off I was good for 30 seconds.   We've been doing a lot of weights in our Power for Parkinsons Fitness Class.

 

I had been been using 2# weights for most of last year, just bought some 5# weights.  20 reps of different lifting, movements. I've

got muscles!  When fatigued my arm shakes like crazy. Just keep going.

 

Just your schedule leaves me exhausted! :)

 

Oh.... Just noticed this photo of Power for Parkinson's class.  I had to do a double take as it is Kristi leading a class... didn't

realize I was in the photo.  Hint, I'm not a small person. :)

http://www.powerforparkinsons.org/#!Parkinson%27s%20Fitness/zoom/c17yk/image_1b69

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For the last few months I've been going to a Tai Chi class at a YMCA, but it was about an hour from my house. I've learned in that time the 18 fan form and become acquainted with the 24 Yung form, mainly from trying to follow as they used it each week as a review and warm-up. All good, but I knew from having the DVD that there was no attempt in the class to do an official warm-up exercises; it was all based on just learning the forms. Additionally, I failed to practice it each day, so it was a once-a-week event for me.

 

I’m glad you’re still taking it. I was wondering.

 

Warm-up is apparently fundamentally important in getting the energy going and also doing the moves properly, developing the body. The majority of my class is exercise - out of a 90 minute class about 60 is exercise, with a emphasis on donyus and toryu’s; 10 minute break and about 20 minutes doing the set.

                 

 

Then I happened to run across an ad in our local paper about the Highland Lakes Tai Chi class that was starting up. It is about a 30 minute drive and most importantly, inexpensive. Donation based, so one could take it free. I went to it last Friday, and the instructor seemed to know his stuff. He starts one out in the "Fundamentals" class. Once you graduate from it, then you can go to the standard Tai Chi class where you learn the forms. And this instructor stresses daily practice, and that if you don't, you can end up "holding the whole class back," and I think if it were bad enough, he might "expel' one from class. So there is motivation to do the practice.

 

    I think regularity is important too. Daily is ideal but 3 times weekly is ok too. Even twice weekly. This is doubly important to us PWP as we are literally fighting off a slow but unrelenting progressive disease - once a week hardly seems enough.        

                        

I do it daily, about 45 minutes each time - about 15 minutes exercise and 30 minutes the set.

I try to do it 3 times a day, but some days I can only manage once or twice.

 

I have to time myself.  I take my meds 3 times a day and need to wait 1 hour before it fully kicks in. So 1 hour after meds I do tai chi and than I go shopping etc for about 2 hours walking (usually twice a day).   Some weeks I get a little exhausted and need to rest.                

 

I’ve had to make tai chi a priority and make a schedule for it. But it’s been worth it.

 

I think the instructor not wanting you to “fall behind” isn’t the best attitude for PWP.

 

In taoist tai chi there is no pressure to ‘advance’.. All levels can exercise and do the sets together. Everyone learns together through (for the most part) quiet observation of others movements. There is no pressure ...

 

I do have one question for anyone here. When I'm doing the "Hugging the Tree" position, my hands start shaking and my left arm gets tight, like holding any such position instead of moving brings out the worst of my symptoms. I can't even last 5 minutes in that position. Does anyone have any tips on how to minimize that, and/or modifications one can make with holding positions like that. As long as I'm moving, I might shake some, but I'm okay. It is the holding postures that give me fits, even like just doing Wuji position.

 

 

 

I don’t do that one yet. But that’s the PD for sure. Hard to stay immobile for long.

 

Stick with it Rick. It WILL be worth it.

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http://www.taichiparkinsons.com/
 

Tai Chi for Parkinson's blog.....

 

232284.jpg

It’s Friday morning and I meet my fellow Tai Chi practitioners in the park.  As we stand silently among the budding rose bushes and almond trees, I struggle to empty my mind. I feel nervous. Will I be able to get through the form?  Will the others notice my trembling hands?  Will I lose my balance while doing the kicks?  

My Tai Chi instructor, Arieh Breslow, slowly takes a deep breath, exhales and sinks into his right leg. We all begin to follow as he starts the form.  I take a deep breath of the cool Jerusalem air and exhale as I sink, telling myself to relax, relax.  As I progress through the form, I begin to gain confidence in my body.  Breathing deeply, sinking, flowing, relaxing, releasing tension, I realize that I can still do this.  I feel good.  I feel wonderful.   

Starting the form was not always filled with such trepidation. There was a time when I felt completely confident. But, Parkinson’s disease has changed that.  I had my first symptoms of Parkinson’s at the age of 49.  My left shoulder wasn’t moving easily during warm-up exercises and my left hand wasn’t always in the correct position when doing the Tai Chi form. At first, I shrugged it off as stiffness. A year later I developed a small tremor in my left hand and my arm didn’t swing properly when I walked. It was then that I decided to see a neurologist - I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. 

I knew that if I wanted to maintain a high quality of life, I would need to develop a program for coping with this disease. My doctor prescribed a cocktail of medications for reducing my symptoms, with a myriad of side effects.  This prompted me to investigate alternative approaches that would allow me to function as normally as possible.  My medical journey led me into Chinese herbal medicine and Ayurvedic treatments from a doctor in India, pressure-point massage and acupuncture from a Tibetan monk, and Yoga lessons. Although these treatments gave me some relief, I felt that none of them could match the combination of proper medication and Tai Chi.

Today, my personal program is based on three pillars:  medication, exercise (with Tai Chi as the basis), and a low-fat vegetarian diet high in antioxidants to protect and boost my remaining brain cells. The program is by no means static - I constantly adjust it to my changing medical condition. Over time, I’ve noticed the accumulative effects of my health regimen. A good Tai Chi workout seems to be as effective for me as taking a pill and the results of a session last for hours.   

Tai Chi is an internal martial art form that uses the mind to control the movements of the body. It helps you become aware of your body and the integration of each part with the whole. Visual imagery is used to help in this mind–body connection and to aid in movement and coordination. The slow, deliberate movements of the Tai Chi form can directly address many of the major Parkinson's symptoms. For example: 

<>·Preventing falls and developing flexibility - The constant sinking, turning, and shifting of weight in the Tai Chi form gives a tremendous workout to the legs and lower body. The constant transition from move to move stretches the hip and groin area strengthening the muscles and joints. Each stance ends with roots sunk deep into the ground, while remaining flexible like a tree in the wind.

<>·Balance - In Tai Chi, proper alignment of the body is obtained by tucking in the chin, raising the back of the neck slightly, and elongating the spine as if it is suspended from the top of the head like a string of pearls.  This “string” imagery relieves the stress on the back muscles, relaxes the shoulders and improves posture and balance.

<>·Rigidity and freezing - It is not unusual for Parkinson’s people to experience rigidity or to suddenly become frozen when walking. Concentrating on flowing like a river in the form produces beautiful even movements that are thrilling to experience.

Through Tai Chi, I get a sense of accomplishment and well being, knowing that I can still function relatively well and, in some cases better, than a person with no physical limitations. It has given me an acute awareness of my body, which parts are not aligned and how to bring them back into the whole of the body so that it functions as one unit.  Tai Chi has helped me to cope with Parkinson’s and has heightened my enjoyment of life 

For a detailed account of my journey with Parkinson's, you can listen to my blog radio interview on Parkinson Recovery.   http://www.blogtalkradio.com/parkinsons-recovery/2009/12/03/pioneers-of-recovery
 
 
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“What is true stillness? Stillness in movement”
– Bruce Lee

 

 

“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapelesslike water.
If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.
If you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle.
You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.
Now, water can flow or it can crash.
Be water, my friend.”

– Bruce Lee

 

 

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
– Bruce Lee

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“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
– Lao Tzu

 

 

 

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RickCopple, on 14 Sept 2015 - 9:05 PM, said:

 

I do have one question for anyone here. When I'm doing the "Hugging the Tree" position, my hands start shaking and my left arm gets tight, like holding any such position instead of moving brings out the worst of my symptoms. I can't even last 5 minutes in that position. Does anyone have any tips on how to minimize that, and/or modifications one can make with holding positions like that. As long as I'm moving, I might shake some, but I'm okay. It is the holding postures that give me fits, even like just doing Wuji position.

 

I do zhan zhuang, just standing with your arms in front of you like holding a big balloon, or tree. The first 5 minutes my left arm trembles and my hand shivers, thumb twitches, etc. After several minutes (sometimes as much as 10) it subsides. I try to stand as long as possible, I built to stand for 30 minutes so far. After this, its total bliss, no more trembling or shivering! Just hold it and relax, imagin healing energy from the cosmos oozing in................
 

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I attend health recovery classes with Bradley at the Brandon, FL facility. Rarely would anyone ever guess that he has spinal cord issues. He is a true testament to the benefits of Tai Chi!

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I attend health recovery classes with Bradley at the Brandon, FL facility. Rarely would anyone ever guess that he has spinal cord issues. He is a true testament to the benefits of Tai Chi!

 

     Wow.... small world.... (but i would'nt want to have to paint it).

 

     Thanks for the feedback.  BTW, squirrels are one of my favourite creatures. They are so playful, and keep dogs in shape and on their toes.  i once observed a cat "sneaking up" on a squirrel over the course of a dozen houses, until the squirrel grew tired and rested, with the cat doing the same thing, the cat sitting about a foot away from the squirrel. They sat about a minute and than went on their seperate ways.....  probably it was their daily routine

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