This July, our Florida Blue Center in Pensacola has the privilege of hosting weekly T’ai Chi classes for seniors led by Jerry Bozant, an instructor of this ancient martial art with 17 years’ experience. Jerry is passionate about the health benefits that anyone who practices White Crane T’ai Chi will receive, especially seniors. We caught up with Jerry to learn more about this beautiful practice.
Florida Blue: In laymen’s terms, what is T’ai Chi so that it’s not confused with other practices?
Jerry: The words T’ai Chi translate to the “grand ultimate,” meaning it was the grand ultimate of fighting styles. Over the centuries the Art has moved away from its fighting aspect towards the health and fitness aspect. Students are surprised when they learn that they are practicing/learning a Martial Art. T’ai Chi is the Yin (passive) side of Kung Fu which is the Yang (active) side of the Art. In Chinese philosophy Yin cannot exist without it’s complementary opposite Yang side. T’ai Chi and Kung Fu are linked together in a total system of Martial Arts. Our style of Martial Arts is called Chuan Fa, which includes both Yin and Yang sides of the Art.
Florida Blue: What are the health benefits of the practice?
Jerry: The physical benefits include improved balance and posture; strong feet, leg, hip, and core muscles; and improved range of motion in all joints. You can also gain improved spatial awareness of the body and greater endurance. Tai Chi is a weight bearing exercise, which improves bone density. It is a mild aerobic exercise that fits between standing and walking. Breathing patterns are incorporated into the movements which helps create healthy lungs.
The mental benefits include improved concentration, focus, and patience. The practice
can also be described as a moving meditation, as students become focused on the physical aspects of the Art. Another skill that is learned is how to quiet down the talking side of the brain, so that daily troubles fade away, and a sense of wellbeing and calm occupy your thoughts.
Florida Blue: Why is T’ai Chi especially good for seniors?
Jerry: Seniors as well as any adult will benefit from the practice of T’ai Chi. Seniors will see the most improvements in: improved fitness, strength, and range of motion; improved balance from the strong lower body, and better posture. They’ll also likely see improved endurance and increased bone density. This all leads to better body control and confidence in their movements. Let’s not forget the chance for improved sleep, a common complaint for seniors.I also like that T’ai Chi can add enrichment to a senior’s life through a group activity.
We at Florida Blue are #FloridaProud to offer this incredible experience to the entire community, free of charge, at the Pensacola Florida Blue Center. Be sure to check our event calendars each month to see what healthy, fun and possibly new-to-you experiences are at your local Center.
Are you a fan of T’ai Chi? Tell us about it in our comments below.