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24 September 2014
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Tai Chi focuses the mind as well as the body
cyril griffith.
Cyril Griffith demonstrates the Tai Chi 'form'

When Keith Roost established his first Tai Chi class for disabled students four years ago, he faced resistance from some fellow tutors who felt that people who did not have full use of all of their limbs would not be capable of learning the discipline.

But Cyril was undeterred: "I see no reason why the activity can't be adapted to suit people with varying disabilities," he said.

Value to health of Tai Chi

Relaxes mind and body to combat the stress and strain of modern living.

Gently tones and strengthens muscles.

Improves balance and posture.

Can help medical conditions such as digestive, heart and respiratory

He believes that there are ways of adapting the movements for people with physical disabilities and that Tai Chi can be taught to people with sensory disabilities.

"The most important thing is to adapt the teaching method. It is the tutor who has to adapt to the needs of the student," says Mr Roost.

Even those unable to move their upper or lower limbs, can still have a benefit, he said.

"We've found that actually watching someone do the movements and visualising yourself in that persons place is beneficial."

Benefits include an increase in respiration - people breathe more deeply and normally - and an increase in the range of movements that students are capable of.

The students at his Vauxhall Centre class certainly feel that Tai Chi has been good for their health and wellbeing. Michele Taylor has been attending classes for around 18 months and says that, as well as total relaxation and meditation. Tai Chi gives her a sense of more movement.

Ms Taylor, who is a wheelchair-user, says that Tai Chi makes it easier for her to carry out the 40 exercise a day regime taught to her at a recent pain management clinic.

michele taylor.
Michele Taylor says 'practice makes perfect'

"I really didn't do any exercise at all before I came here," she said.

"You feel that because you are in a chair that you can't do anything. Then you realise that there are forms of exercise that you can can do...and it does help," she said.

Cyril Griffith has been attending the class since it was first established about four years ago: "I used to do karate before my accident. I should have taken up Tai Chi long ago," he said. Since taking up Tai Chi he has also started practising yoga.

The class also plays a supportive role. The students rely on each other to get the form right as well as having the class tutor as their guide.

Keith Roost runs Tai Chi classes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. He is affiliated to the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain and can be contacted on (01842) 764647.

Note: Keith Roost is affiliated to the Practical Tai Chi Chuan Association. The Vauxhall Centre Tai Chi class is run by a practitioner from the John Ding International Academy of Tai Chi Chuan.
If you are interested in taking up Tai Chi in Norfolk contact Adult Education at Wensum Lodge, Norwich. Telephone: (01603) 666021.
Alternatively, contact the Norfolk Natural Health Service. Telephone: (01842) 820121.

Tai Chi Union for Great Britain
John Ding International Academy of Tai Chi Chuan

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