ZEN TIP TUESDAY #3
For ZTT #3 I’m so pleased to introduce you to Leanne Le Cras who shares with us her experience with Tai Chi and how it’s helped her find her exercise zen. I’ve known Leanne ‘virtually’ via blogging for quite a while now. I’m not exactly sure how long but well over a year, and what a lovely lady she is! Leanne lives in Western Australia – the opposite side of Australia to me. Believe it or not though, she’s in Brisbane at the moment and I’m actually meeting her in person, tomorrow!! Anyway, I’m thrilled to have her guest post as part of the #ZTT series so thank you Leanne for putting your hand up so eagerly and writing your fabulous post to share with us. You can learn more about Leanne in her bio at the end of this post and you’ll also find links to her blog and social media.
Before I go, I wanted to point out that today is an extra special day as it’s the first day of our #ZTT Link-Up. If you’re linking up today – welcome, and thank you! I expect numbers of linkers will be low to start with but spread the word and hopefully in time the #ZTT Link-Up will grow into something special.
Firstly I’d like to thank Min for being kind enough to invite me to guest post on her lovely blog. When she said the topic was Zen Tips, I immediately thought of my Tai Chi lessons and how they fit into the concept of being Zen and thought I’d share my journey to Tai Chi Zen with you today.
FINDING MY EXERCISE ZEN
I’ve tried a lot of different types of exercise classes over the years – from good old aerobics in the 1980’s through to Zumba. To say that I have the co-ordination of a drunken giraffe would probably be a kind way of describing anything that involves me doing dance moves that involve rhythm, so I never really stuck to exercising to music.
Then along came Tai Chi – I’d tried it a few years ago and loved the fluid motion and the synchronised moves. It was all at a slow and considered pace that gave my brain time to catch up with what it needed to tell my body to do next. The classes were run by a man and were a more combat based version of Tai Chi – my husband even came for a while and we were progressing to fighting moves with a staff when the classes came to an end. Perhaps that was a good thing – the neighbours might have been worried if we’d taken our marital spats out on each other with a staff in hand!
STEPPING OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE
A few years passed and then I discovered another class quite close to home – this one had a lady instructor and was much more gentle and “Zen”. But, before I could start, there were a couple of stumbling blocks – firstly, it was being held at the local Senior Citizens’ Centre, and there was no way I’d be able to go to a class at the Senior Cits because I was obviously wayyyy too young! Well, I got a big dose of reality when I found out I qualified as a “senior citizen” because I was over 50! So, after coming to terms with my new status – and the fact that classes were $3 for an hour (bargain Pensioner rate I guess) I thought “why not?”
Then the second stumbling block came into play – I didn’t know anyone who went and I’d have to go by myself – Whoa! I couldn’t go to something by myself – too scary and too confronting! But you know what? I stepped up and the lure of those $3 classes pushed me into trying “just once”. It turns out I loved it and I’ve been almost every single Friday since – those Seniors are wonderful – encouraging, non-competitive, no fancy workout gear, just people enjoying doing something together and happy for me to join in.
WHAT WE ACTUALLY DO
We do “Lee Style” Tai Chi which has 140 individual moves. It doesn’t sound like much, but trying to master 140 turns, kicks, arm movements, and steps, while also breathing in time, is quite a challenge. The first class was an eye opener – 35 or so people in their 60’s and 70’s who all seemed to have it down pat as they followed the instructor, while I hid at the back and did my best to not fall on my face or look like a complete twit.
I quickly realized that nobody was looking at me – they were too busy looking at the instructor and remembering which way to turn and which foot goes forward with which hand movement. As time has gone on, different women have chatted with me and some have been coming for two years or more and are still prone to putting the wrong foot with the wrong hand! I felt so much better to know I wasn’t a slow learner.
If you’re interested in what “Lee Style” Tai Chi looks like, this is a link to the first 32 moves – very restful and the music is similar to what we have in our class.
SO AM I A TAI CHI MASTER YET?
It’s been six months since I started and I actually feel quite proficient (except when I stuff up a move or two) and I’m loving the feeling of being part of a group. When I look across and see us all doing the same thing at the same time – all synchronized – I smile to myself and think how glad I am that I didn’t give up because it was too scary, or too hard. I persevered and exchanged my comfort zone for a personal challenge that motivates me to get up each Friday morning. I don’t actually break into a sweat, but I’m doing something that has been proven to be good for my brain and is highly recommended for balance and fall prevention (something we Senior Cits need to be aware of!)
LEANNE LE CRAS
Leanne lives in the beautiful SW of Western Australia and works part-time as a surgeon’s receptionist. Both kids have grown, flown, married, set up house and produced two delightful granddaughters. She spends way too much of her spare time blogging about the highlights of Midlife at Cresting the Hill and shares the rest of her leisure time with her husband and two cats.
ZTT LINK-UP #001