Alice Kuramoto, 74, has been practicing tai chi for four decades.
A bad back prompted Kuramoto to switch from judo and jodo, more violent types of martial arts, to tai chi. “I started practicing tai chi in my 30s, and I’m so glad I did, because it’s something you can do all of your life,” she says.
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This article is taken from our May 2019 cover story, How to Live Your Healthiest Life.
Inspired by her own experiences with pain, Kuramoto adapts her class for those with chronic and age-related conditions. She teaches a gentler school of tai chi called Sun in which students quietly work through a series of movements, breathing slowly and steadily moving their arms, sometimes balancing on one leg.
Unlike yoga, in which many poses are executed on hands and knees, tai chi poses are upright and flow from one to the next.
What is tai chi?
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art form that focuses on integrating meditation and gentle movement to balance the body’s energy, called chi. All of the five major styles – Yang, Wu (Hao), Chen, Wu and Sun – offer a variety of health benefits:
– Studies have shown that tai chi can help people with chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis and chronic pain syndrome, manage their symptoms.
– Tai chi helps strengthen core muscles, improving balance and helping to prevent falls in older adults.
– Studies have found that tai chi’s meditative aspects reduce stress levels.
– Kuramoto adds that participating in a group activity can help alleviate loneliness among older students.