In China, Tai Chi is thought to enable people to live for a very long, vitality-filled time. Lewis Paleias, who teaches the ancient art of Tai Chi to seniors at the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mt. Sinai Hospital and various nursing homes in New York City, suggested two techniques to keep your chi—or the body’s bio-electricity, as Paleias thinks of it—flowing freely. Tai Chi also boosts the immune system, so it’s a good thing to do during cold and flu season to help protect senior health.
Tai Chi for Seniors Technique #1:
Energy Stimulation Flow
You can use this series anytime you need to quickly build up or restore your energy reserves. The energy points are sometimes named according to their effect on the body, as in the Three Mile point. According to Chinese legend, if you open the Three Mile point, you can walk three additional miles when you’re tired. Points can also relate to a location on the body such as “Abdominal Gurgling Sounds.” “If you don’t have gurgling sounds in the abdomen, you’re in trouble,” noted Paleias.
1. Kidney 27: “Elegant Mansion”
Location: Under the collarbone in the hollows on both sides of the breastbone.
Motion: Briskly thump (like a gorilla) for 15 to 30 seconds.
2. Conception Vessel 17: “Sea of Tranquility”
Location: On the center of the breastbone 3 finger widths up from the base of the bone.
Motion: Briskly thump for 15 to 30 seconds with one loose fist or fingertips.
3. Spleen 16: “Abdominal Gurgling Sounds”
Location: Draw an imaginary line from the nipples straight down to just under the ribs.
Motion: Briskly thump for 15 to 30 seconds.
4. Bladder 23 & 27: “Sea of Vitality”
Location: In the lower back (between the 2nd and 3rd lumbar vertebrae) two to four finger widths away from the spine at the waist level.
Motion: Briskly rub up and down on your lower back with the knuckles of both hands, palms facing, out vigorously enough to create heat for 15 to 30 seconds.
5. Stomach 36: “Three Mile Point”
Location: Four finger widths below the kneecap toward the outside of the shinbone.
Motion: Briskly pound both sides with loose fists for 15 to 30 seconds.
Tai Chi for Seniors Technique #2: Breath of Vitality
Breathing is another component of vitality. Try this simple trick to optimize your breath:
Stand with one hand on your belly under the naval and one on your back slightly above naval height. Inhale and feel the hands come apart. Exhale and push the hands in lightly.
For a more invigorating breath, do the opposite. On the inhalation imagine sucking a straw and push the belly and back in as though they were meeting in the center, using your hands if necessary. On the exhalation, feel the belly and back expand away from each other.