In this blog we introduce our Tai Chi teacher Alexandra. She also teaches pre-natal and post-natal yoga – but that’s a blog for another time. We are focusing on multi-talented Alexandra’s practice of Tai Chi and the classes she offers here at YogaSpace Yorkshire.
Alexandra qualified as a Tai Chi teacher in 2014, but her interest for Tai Chi grew earlier during the years she worked as a rehab Physiotherapist at the James Cook and Darlington hospitals where her role was to help neuro-disabled patients move towards a better quality of life. The rehab programme offered by these hospitals offered Tai Chi and Alexandra began to observe how much faster patients who attended Tai Chi classes improved, than those who didn’t. She researched the benefits and began her own practice. She realised how adaptable Tai Chi was, it was a practice for all ages and noted how the benefits it created for the human body went beyond mere balance and coordination.
It is said that the benefits of Tai Chi are as follows.
Healthier lungs through their expansion of capacity
Improves coordination, mobility, flexibility, improves joint stiffness
Reduces high blood pressure, improves sleep quality
Helps with strength and balance.
Emma asked Alexandra some questions
Q: There are different versions of Tai Chi? Which one is yours?
Alexandra: Yes there are, I teach Chi Kung Chi Kung (Qigong) which means “energy work”, or ”energy cultivation”. In order to become physically strengthened, emotionally connected, mentally focused, spiritually aligned and energetically vitalized Tai Chi is the practice of performing movements that stimulate the flow of Chi (energy) through the body. The practice is also a meditation in motion (flow).
Q: Is Tai Chi practice very physical?
Alexandra: My teaching style is gentle, (and yes, there are some teachers who make it a very physical practice) but I deliver my postures in a flow. The Tuesday night class is all standing postures although anyone in class may use a chair. There is a mat relaxation to end. The Monday class is mostly chair posture Tai Chi, but anyone could do it standing if Monday suits them more than Tuesday evening.
Q: Can you describe a typical class routine?
Alexandra: I begin with a short check in to ask how everyone’s week has been (this is very helpful for the Monday class, I need to know their physical progress) in case there are immediate adaptations I need to make to that morning’s lesson. Next we do a gentle series of yoga-style warm up/stretches, using chair or floor, then we move on to our ‘preparation’ postures where I can check they are doing them. The high point of the class is the ‘flow’ where we put all the postures together to music. The final part of the class is breath work – very important to expand lung capacity, and then we have the relaxation.
Q: Who would suit your Monday class and who would suit your Tuesday class?
Alexandra: Monday’s class is designed around chair postures or standing supported, and the class place is a little slower than Tuesday’s class. The Tuesday class is offered as standing postures (chairs provided if needed) and is a little faster. I co-host Monday’s class with Tom -he knew what postures and class content would suit those with Parkinsons and we co-wrote the class content. It turns out that this class helps many more than those with Parkinsons. The chair benefits make it suitable for those with any kind of joint-related stiffness, advancing years or balance problems.
Q: With so many health benefits, are your classes well attended?
Alexandra: My classes seem to build community and have acquired a regular following, but everyone has busy lives so there are usually spaces for drop-ins or for new students. My Monday class has more spaces, as this class is slowly building. More people are beginning to attend now they see that they can practice on a chair and are supported by a trained physiotherapist. YogaSpace Yorkshire is a much nicer atmosphere/ambience/setting for your practice than a hospital gym with no windows!
Q: Do you need to wear anything special or bring anything to a Tai Chi lesson?
Alexandra: No, not at all, wear comfortable clothes, turn up, and maybe bring your water bottle as its good to stay hydrated. I welcome all ages – and look forward to saying hello to any new students.
Thank you Alexandra.
YogaSpace Yorkshire is holding a taster morning on Saturday 9th November 2019 for those new and interested in Tai Chi practice with Alexandra. Arrive from 10am to chat with Alexandra and have a cup of tea or coffee, and a class will start at 11.45 for 45 minutes. £10 at the door (£1 donation will be made to the Parkinson’s Society) Book in with Alexandra – firstname.lastname@example.org