Tai Chi for Health
The practice of Tai Chi, and particularly the Tai Chi form, can offer many benefits for both body and mind. The slower pace encourages the practitioner to be deliberate and precise in their movement, gently and slowly building muscle strength and control. Whether one is looking to add a healthy practice to their routine, or actively looking to regain normal function after injury, Tai Chi is something that just about anybody can do.
Tai Chi Chuan translates as “grand ultimate fist,” and is an effective martial art. This aspect of the practice is not attractive to every practitioner, but there are plenty of places offering a softer, modified approach that focuses primarily on the form, breathing exercises, and methods for achieving mental and bodily relaxation. The practice of the form will gently work just about every part of your body through both small and large movements, varied stances, and rotational transitions. One goal of the form is to find a sense of physical relaxation in the midst of movement. Whether caused by stress or lack of awareness, the tension we hold in our bodies can lead to physical discomfort in many forms. Through mental awareness and consistent practice, one may hopefully achieve the ability to relax their bodies throughout their day, and therefore find a reduction in pain and discomfort.
Initially, the most challenging aspect of the practice is learning and memorizing the proper movements of the form. This intensely focuses the mind and is a good practice of concentration. Students may find this period to be the most challenging, but the rewards of consistent practice are very rewarding. Eventually, you don’t need to think your way through the movements, but let your body lead through muscle memory. This is the point at which the form can become a form of meditative exercise.
Some martial arts schools offer classes in Tai Chi, as do many local recreation centers. You may even be able to find a casual group that meets at your local park! If you are concerned about the activity as it relates to any injury or pain you may have, you are encouraged to ask questions of the instructor and be forthcoming about your limitations so that you find a class that is suitable for you. While it is recommended that you work with an experienced individual in a class setting, not everyone has the ability to do so. As a secondary option, Gaiam has put out a few good videos on Tai Chi.
Dana Reynolds: ESP Scheduling/Front Desk, 4th Degree Black Belt- Kung Fu Master
Click on the link to read Dr. St.Pierre’s input regarding Cupping Therapy for the Boulder Camera.
Here are a few Olympic videos. More are to come: Walking out to closing ceremonies, bike ride tour of Olympic village, tour of Short Track Iceberg!
People often ask “what do you actually do” with the athletes at the Olympics, or when I consult with a team or athlete. In reality, the process is very similar to the interaction within our ESP Sports Medicine practice in Lafayette, CO. (more…)
HEY EVERYONE!!!! Now that I’ve been home a few weeks I’m finally catching up on my life and able to reflect a little more on my wonderful Olympic experience. Generally, the Winter Olympic Games held in Sochi, Russia were amazing, seriously. Don’t believe a lot of the negative things you here. Although the weather is usually a little colder with consistent wet weather, the weather for these Games were warm, often hitting the 60’s near the coast and 40’s in the mountains. Unfortunately, the conditions on the mountain venues weren’t ideal and the low elevation/barometric pressure also effects the quality of the ice for our skaters, but everyone still has to compete and whoever wins is legitimately the Olympic champion, forever. Imagine a Ferrari that normally competes on an ideal track and then having to compete for instance on a sandy beach, or slush for the Sochi Olympic Games. It allows the competitive advantage for some of the world’s best athletes to be minimized, brining the competitive levels closer together as in Shawn White’s case, and allows other athletes with different capabilities to rise up. What you saw on the mountains and on the ice was still excellent performances. The conditions were a similar issue as in Vancouver. Having an Winter Olympics at low elevation and with-in milder weather patterns does effect the outcomes. So, I look forward to watching the next Winter Olympics in South Korea, which is being held in a classic winter mountain scene.
The last day of the Olympics is here. Yesterday was another up and down day watching the men’s hockey team get beat handily by Finland and out of medal contention, but also having the opportunity to enter the Medal Plaza to witness our Short Track boys receive their Silver Medals. I video taped the event for Eddie Alvarez since his parents left earlier that day on a flight home. The boys performed a “Three Amigos” skit during the ceremony that caught everyone off guard and was pretty funny! Following the medal ceremony we returned back to the USA House where the Women’s Hockey team was leading the dance party and the place was full of great energy. For how challenging it has been down here in the Coastal village to win the medals that we expected, it was nice to see everyone let loose a little bit and enjoy themselves.
So, the end is drawing near, and Team USA has represented well. However, these seem to be a Games of the favorites struggling or underdogs coming through. For instance, the Dutch have killed everyone in Long Track Speedskating, even though they’re not necessarily underdogs. It has been astonishing seeing them sweep distances that they weren’t necessarily even favored in, and racking up a medal count that even surprised them. US Long Trackers leading up to the Games were often ranked in the top three of a few events, but it just didn’t happen these Games. The sport is generally more competitive than what has happened here, but hats of to Dutch. We’ll see you in Korea 2018…
Last night I went to the USA House again to watch the USA Women’s Hockey play Canada for the Gold Medal. The energy was amazing since Ted Ligety and the two Women’s bobsled teams showed off their medals and presented their Order of Ikkos awards to special coaches or staff. The place was packed with current and former athletes, their families, team staff and other special guests. Some members of the Men’s Hockey team stayed for the complete duration of the game in support of the women and we were all deflated when Canada scored in overtime. I’ve been able to spend meaningful time interacting with both the men’s and women’s hockey teams, and through two Olympics we’ve taken 3 Silver medals in hockey, all with loses to Canada. It’s been pretty tough. Hopefully tonight our Men can win the semifinal game and move on to the Gold Medal Game. However, I won’t be able to watch the game because my team, Short Track Speedskating, has it’s last events at the same time.
Short Track Speedskating is pure racing, like Nascar. An athlete may race the fastest race of their career, but if your strategy in passing an opponent is not effective, you cannot win. Likewise, you could win a Gold medal with the slowest race of your career, of which, has happened many times. Especially, if everyone falls or crashes. I love Short Track and ice hockey players particularly appreciate it. It is the most exciting sport at the Games, but is admittedly more enjoyable when we are successful. Although Short and Long Track represent one National Governing Body, US Speedskating, we are two separate disciplines, with completely different athletic qualities. But unlike Long Track, Short Track is always a crap shoot. Anything can happen and the best athlete doesn’t always win. So, the athletes and staff are conditioned to move on to the next race. Long Track is about beating your best time and hoping no one can match it. It is an amazing sport, but in very different ways. Tonight and tomorrow Long Track will send both a men’s and women’s teams to compete in the Team Pursuit, a relay of sorts. In Vancouver, the United States provided some of the most memorable upsets, of which I hope happens again. Their team deserves some good things to happen to them. Short Track however will have three medals on the line tonight. The US Men are ranked #1 in the Relay, which actually does not include two favorites Canada or Korea, winners of every single Olympic Relay Gold. We will also have JR Celski, Emily Scott and Jessica Smith competing in individual distances. It will be fun!!!
Over the past few days I’ve enjoyed myself. Watching our last Short Track practice yesterday, working with our men and women in Sports Medicine and just hanging out as a group. Yesterday I saw Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Kristy Yamaguchi at the USA House. The day before I congratulated David Wise and Juila Mancuso on their success. I supported our Hockey women after their defeat, hung with Apolo for lunch and got to seriously catch up with our Men’s and Women’s Skeleton Teams who have kicked butt since I moved on to Short Track in 2009. They remember more about our interactions than I assumed. It’s nice witnessing people you know reach their Olympic Dreams. It’s also unique supporting high profile athletes at critical times in their career.
Saturday and Sunday we will watch if our 4-Man Bobsled team can repeat for Gold, and if our other two sleds do well. The Bobsled, Skeleton and Luge athletes of the Host country always have an advantage due to their massive training time on the track, but our bobsled teams are very good and are usually in contention.
These last few days will be a whirlwind. We fly out at 3 am on Monday morning, which means right after Closing Ceremonies it will be a rush to get to the airport. It would have been nice to have one last beer with everyone!!! BTW, all food and drink at the USA House is free, gourmet food, but they only serve Budweiser, yuck! You need passes to get in, $300/piece, but thankfully athletes without family or friends here, which is very rare, have provided me support. Thanks to my Short Track coaches, Evan Bates- Figure Skating and Ryan Kesler- Hockey for looking out for me! The Short Track athletes have been great to support, always smiling and promoting a positive attitude. It really is fun not knowing or caring what the TV programs are promoting back home. Here we just watch a live feed without commentary. The reality is that everyone is trying as hard as the can to succeed, and character is shown during tough times, not cultivated in tough times… Although I will never work full-time again with an Olympic Sport as I did in 2009-10, I will continue to stay active as best I can. This will probably be my last Olympic Games, simply for the fact that it is very rare to get one opportunity, let alone two.
Regardless of what happens over these next few days it’s been a blast. It has been very safe. I haven’t seen a military person, a gun or witnessed any skirmishes, other than on the ice… The Russian people have been wonderful, and they love interacting with us, asking for pictures and speaking great English. The Russian Olympic Committee hired mostly young, enthusiastic 20 year olds as volunteers. It’s not always fun dealing with us when we need something done now… So we give them USA Short Track pins and say thank you in Russian, Spaceeba!!!
I’ve had a Dutch person give me crap for being in their House and I’ve given some Canadian NHLers a little ribbing leading up to our game tonight. I probably won’t write another blog until I get back home, but I will upload more pictures as I move along. I warn you to not believe the hype or read into the negativity as it relates to the Games. The medals aren’t as shiny as the memories, and usually the loudest and most obnoxious individuals are part of the problem.