Tai Chi for Sports
Tai Chi is awesome as a sports training tool because its goal is to cultivate balance, calm, and power. Those are three things one needs to excel in any physical activity. During Tai Chi practice you learn about the lower dan tien, which is an energy center located just below the navel. Tai Chi players are taught to move from their dan tien, which is their center of gravity. This is especially helpful for skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, and skiing. Likewise, in baseball, golf, tennis and racquetball to hit the ball you swing from the center, or dan tien. Let's take baseball; Tai Chi's ability to improve balance is excellent for infielders, who move and reach quickly and sharply. And just before going into a pitch, a pitcher must hold his/her balance on one leg for several seconds. This point of balance can determine the force and accuracy of the pitch.
The concept of swinging from the dan tien may also help reduce "golfer's back" because by creating the swing from below the navel there is less twisting of the lower back. This relaxed motion allows the entire force of the dan tien's turning to be projected outward through the hands and club into the ball. Many golfers discover that they can drive the ball much farther after practicing Tai Chi for only a few months.
The same force used in golf also works for tennis and racquetball. In addition, consciously moving from the dan tien can lessen the pressure on the knees, especially through all the quick stops of the game.
Of course, the mental acuity, balance and self-esteem Tai Chi encourages, is beneficial for other types of sports as well, such as football and soccer. It is well known that the LA Lakers basketball team used Tai Chi as part of their training.
As a triathlete, I use Tai Chi as both a warm-up for my regular workouts and also as an "off day" exercise that is soothing to my joints, yet still keeps my mind and body focused. As an added bonus, with each deep breath I visualize stocking up my energy reserves in my lower dan tien so I can draw from those when I really need them, like on that last mile of the course! It helps a lot!
Carolyn Cooper is the founder of Tai Chi Flow, Inc., which offers a series of DVDs including Tai Chi Flow for Kids, Tai Chi Flow for Pregnancy, and Tai Chi Flow for Everybody. As an Energy Intuitive, she is also the founder and teacher of Calyco Healing. a unique energy healing modality in which anyone can learn to heal themselves and others. Carolyn publishes a popular e-newsletter called "Living in the Flow". www.TaiChiFlow.com / www.CalycoHealing.com
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