Blog : Balance Your Body and Mind, Balance for Life

By Katie | Sep 18, 2014 | in

At less than a year of age, children start to find their balance. Everything becomes a stabilizer; a tool to pull themselves up and see the world from a few inches higher. Soon after finding their balance, they’re off running. Throughout one’s life, all sorts of aspects can alter one’s balance—usually for the worst. When balance starts to get compromised, freedom can go with that, while fear of falling may increase. Gateway Taiji, Qigong & Yoga Studio recognizes that maintaining balance is essential for health and safety, and offers classes to restore balance.

Since introducing Taiji classes focusing on bettering balance in 2012, Gateway has helped a slew of participants find their equilibrium. The classes were started after the New Hampshire Fall’s Risk Reduction Task Force offered a specialized training session to Taiji students/masters, as a way to reduce the incredibly serious threat that falls pose to the elderly. The task force required that all participants go on to teach the class themselves.

Bill Buckley, owner of Gateway Taiji, Qigong & Yoga, took the class in 2011, and immediately started offering the classes. While the Task Force set out to protect the elderly, Gateway has broadened the spectrum to help all who wish to improve their balance. When asked what the average age of participants in the Taiji For Better Balances classes (new session starts October 7 at Taiji), Buckley was quick to point out it’s not a class specific to age but rather to those seeking to find their center again; and that in any given class he’s had a range in ages that spanned more than 40 years.

“It’s not just for the elderly, though they certainly can benefit substantially. We’ve had participants of all ages; balance difficulties do not come at a specific age,” explain Buckley. “We’ve helped students who have impaired hearing and have been discharged from physical therapy, and more! We ensure that everyone who comes in leaves better than when they came in.”

The nationally acclaimed Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance curriculum taught at GateWay was developed at the Oregon Research Institute by Fuzhong Li, Ph.D. Dr. Li’s research revealed a significant improvement in balance through the slow-moving, controlled practice of Taiji (also spelled “tai chi”). The incredible success of the program (which boasts 55% reductions in the risk of falling) can be attributed to the science behind each movement and the methodology incorporated in the class.
“In each class we focus on three aspects that affect balance: vision, the vestibular system and proprioception.” shares Buckley. “To improve the visual aspect of balance, we do a series of movements and spotting objects as we move, training the brain to focus while the body continues forward. To affect the vestibular system, we practice slow movements that stabilize the crystals in the inner ear. Proprioception is our sense of our body in space. “In the practice of Taiji, we concentrate on feeling the body in space; the slow movements allow our muscles and tendons to communicate with our brain and sort out where we need adjusting.”

Melissa Gahr, a Physical Therapist at Seacoast Body Balance, LLC, agrees that the extensive research behind the Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance curriculum is what has led it to be so successful. In fact, Gahr incorporates several elements from the program into her physical therapy sessions.

Gahr, who specializes in vestibular balance disorders, says that the Better Balance curriculum is “one of the few exercise programs that has science and data behind the movements. For balance disorders, it is a great bang for your buck. If you follow the protocol taught in classes, you will absolutely improve your balance.”

Starting October 7, Gateway will be offering two Taiji for Better Balance classes. The first, an introductory course that follows Dr. Li’s Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance curriculum, is designed for beginners. The second, a continuation course, uses the same elements taught in the introductory course while students learn more movements in the Taiji Yang Style Long Form. Both classes are proven to improve balance, while restoring a piece of mind and independence to those who practice. 

To learn more about Gateway Taiji, Qigong & Yoga Studio, visit http://www.gatewaytaiji.com/

For more information on Seacoast Body and Balance, LLC go to http://seacoastbodybalance.com/