A group of not so young people starts to gather at the hall, buzzing from the excitement, happily chatting about new moves that they are going to do today and which moves from last week they remember.
The hall is quickly filled with a group, with ages varying from 40 to over 80, dropping their shoes in the corner. Some need chairs to have a rest in between exercises but that is not stopping them!
They talk about Taiso, you know, the art of gentle exercising!
What on earth is Taiso? At LB Posture Training we are running classes for the not so young. I call it “Taiso – the art of gentle exercise”. To create this I have taken and modified kata from our style of Karate and added meditation music. By doing this I have a set of exercises that can be performed slowly and relaxed in the manner of Tai Chi. I do not know Tai Chi well enough to use this name but I do know Karate and have experience with kata as meditation, which is why I have researched and used the name Taiso. “Taiso = tai (body) + so (hardening) and is a generic Japanese term for conditioning. It can range from simply stretching to very serious conditioning.” (http://www.jqhome.net)
I associate Taiso with exercises so my students can come along and experience training in a safe manner, learn Karate forms and enjoy them in the right state of the mind. These classes are structured with a gentle warm up, followed by learning a form and perfecting the movement. The third part of the class is dedicated to meditation, where participants perform a learnt form in a relaxed state trying to lose themselves in fluent motion. This group is not only about the exercise it is a great social platform where people can meet and share quality time. After the workout we gather and have a cup of tea and chat.
This group was born from the need for cheap and non-impact exercises in the middle of the day so it is easier for the not so young.
Taiso has many health and mental benefits, not just working on muscles but on the brain too and helps to calm ones mental state. Via form training we can improve strength, balance, flexibility and mobility. Our brain is stimulated by learning new patterns, building new neuron connections and reinforcing them by repetition. Natural, deep breathing oxygenates blood, relaxes tension and calms the spirit. The more specific benefits of Taiso include:
- Movements that strengthen the body which helps to keep strong bones and muscle tone. Gradually students will deepen the stances increasing their flexibility and joint mobility.
- Regular exercising improves lower back strength helping to reduce any back pain.
- A frequent change of positions in different directions on one foot improves balance and hand-to-eye coordination, improving spatial awareness and helping to reduce trips and falls.
- Regular exercise improves memory and increases attention and concentration as well as brain blood flow in the region of memory.
- Taiso helps to focus on performing one movement at a time. Limiting the intake of information is a key brain function associated with brain health.
- Meditation reduces stress and improves concentration. Practice increases self-awareness. It increases happiness and meditation increases acceptance. Some studies suggest that it slows aging and the practice benefits cardiovascular and immune health.
All of the above, in conjunction with a friendly atmosphere, creates an increasingly popular alternative to what is on offer for the not so young.
If you would like to know more about Taiso please get in touch with me at LB Posture Training