Taiji Day 241: Unexpected Benefits

Due to a number of family circumstances and school issues, I haven’t had a chance to go dancing in a while.  I was able to do so yesterday evening.  I had a wonderful time.  It’s the first time I’ve really been out dancing in three or four months, and I had really missed it.  But the thing that I wasn’t expecting was the real benefit of a regular tai chi workout. FOr one thing, when dancing solo I never know what sort of dancing to do.  I’m not a trained dancer, and I always feel awkward on my feet.  FOr another, when dancing with a partner in a free-form (as opposed to ballroom) environment, I am at a loss as to what to do with a partner.

Enter tai chi.  There’s now a repertoire of moves that my body just knows, and are close enough to modern-day freeform dance styles that I can just do tai chi and be thought of as “dancing” without being regarded as a weirdo.  Second, I have an unexpectedly increased stamina due to the tai chi practice. The dance I go to on the first Friday of any month runs for an hour and a half, and then has a break for the musicians, and then runs another hour and a half.  Usually I dance for a half-hour of the first half, and then I’m exhausted and have to stop.

No more.  I was able to dance, rather thoroughly throwing myself into it, for the first half of the dance… that is, an hour and a half of good, solid dancing. So tai chi carries unexpected benefits: it makes us better dancers after 241 days, and gives us better stamina to continue dancing for a long period of time.  Altogether a good thing.

The second benefit was that I slept in.  I never sleep in.  Usually at five am, my eyes pop open and I’m awake and raring to go.  That’s true even on weekends. This morning, though, I slept two whole hours later than normal, because I genuinely used up the energy that I’d accumulated last night (also, I went to bed much, much later than usual, which probably had something to do with my lateness).

Anyway, between those two things, I enjoyed my saturday considerably more than I might have.  I didn’t do tai chi until almost 2:00 pm, and found that it flowed fluidly and easily.  And that brings me to the third benefit.  If I had danced for an hour and a half straight a few months ago, I would be stiff and sore and uncomfortable today. And Tai Chi would have been… challenging.

Yet it wasn’t.  No stiffness. No soreness. No discomfort.  For a guy in his forties, this is a terrific improvement over what I had to look forward to.  And I’m quite pleased with the results.


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