8 tai chi steps for stronger bones

The gen­tle, fluid move­ments of tai chi can go a long way to keep the big O (os­teo­poro­sis) at bay.

Shape (Singapore) - - Front Page - BY ESTELLE LOW

The next time you see peo­ple prac­tis­ing tai chi in your neigh­bour­hood, don’t be too quick to dis­miss it as an ac­tiv­ity ex­clu­sive to se­nior cit­i­zens.

This slow-mo ex­er­cise and Chi­nese mar­tial art form can ac­tu­ally work up a sweat with its weight-shift­ing, stretch­ing and bal­anc­ing move­ments that im­prove flex­i­bil­ity and bal­ance.

What’s more, it helps to ac­tu­ally strengthen mus­cles, pro­tect joints and main­tain bone min­eral den­sity (BMD). This is im­por­tant since low BMD is as­so­ci­ated with os­teo­poro­sis.

With World Os­teo­poro­sis Day on Oct 20, Shape gets Jen­nifer Chung, mas­ter trainer with Tai Chi for Health Taichi SJY LLP to work out this eight-step se­quence to help you build stronger bones. She has one last tip to of­fer, “The slower you go, the tougher and more ef­fec­tive the work­out will be.”

STEP 1

COM­MENC­ING FORM Stand up­right and then step left so feet are shoul­der-width apart. Keep knees lim­ber. STEP 2 OPEN AND CLOSE WITH EV­ERY STEP

Do this now and af­ter Step 3 to 7. Bring both hands to front of chest, palms fac­ing each other [A]. Breathe in as you pull palms fur­ther apart and breathe out as you bring them closer to­gether.

STEP 3

WAV­ING HANDS IN THE CLOUDS Turn torso slightly right, bring left hand to front of chest (palm fac­ing out­wards) and right palm to hip level [A]. Step with left foot and turn torso left, shift­ing weight to left foot [B]. Step with right foot, switch hand po­si­tions and turn torso right, shift­ing weight to right foot [C]. Re­peat [B] and [C] twice.

STEP 4

BRUSH KNEE Shift weight to left foot and turn right foot to face right, lift­ing toes slightly off ground [A]. Shift weight to right foot and lift left heel slightly off ground. As you do this, stretch right hand out­wards and bring left hand to right el­bow [B]. Step with left foot, start­ing at left heel [C]. Shift weight for­ward as you bring left hand down­wards and push right palm for­ward [D]. Re­peat on other side. Do two sets.

STEP 5

LEFT AND RIGHT HEEL KICK Shift weight to right foot. Bring hands to chest level (palms fac­ing out­wards), lift left knee and flex toes [A]. Kick and straighten left leg as you push palms out­wards [B]. Bring left foot down and re­peat on other side.

STEP 6

RE­PULSE MON­KEY Bend knees slightly and po­si­tion hands in front of chest as if you’re hold­ing a ball with left hand on top. Push left palm for­ward and pull right hand slightly back, palm fac­ing up­wards [A]. Turn torso right, lift right hand and turn palms to face each other [B]. Bring right hand to ear and pull back left hand slightly (palm fac­ing up­wards) [C]. Shift weight to right foot and step out slightly with left foot [D]. Shift weight to left foot, keep­ing body up­right.

At the same time, gen­tly push right palm for­ward and bring left hand back [E]. Lift right heel and ad­just foot so toes face for­ward. Re­peat on other side. Do two sets.

STEP 7

WAV­ING HANDS IN THE CLOUDS Re­peat Step 3 but on the re­verse sides.

STEP 8

CLOS­ING FORM Stretch hands for­ward and then gen­tly lower them. Close feet. Stand up­right and re­lax.

SE­QUENCE OF STEPS: 1-2/3-2/4-2/5-2/6-2/7-2/8

2A Step 2 helps you re­lax and strength­ens your

lungs.

3A

3B

4A

4B

4C

3C

4D

5B Avoid lock­ing joints while do­ing tai chi. The move­ments are meant to in­crease the flow of qi or en­ergy in your body.

5A

6E

6C

6D

6B

6A

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