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.