In a time of high tech fitness fads, one might wonder whether Tai Chi, characterised by its slow, deliberate movements, is a worthwhile workout.
Erika Theron, qualified Tai Chi instructor, believes that it is. “Tai Chi, a form of martial arts, known as a method to reduce stress and enhance health. It includes Qigong, a discipline that involves the breath, mind and movement to create a calm, natural energy balance. An intrinsic energy flows through the body and when one practices Tai Chi, the energy pathways in the body is unblocked and that is why people feel better when they do it on a regular basis. It has also been linked to a myriad of health benefits, from improved immunity and pain relief, to lower blood pressure and reduced inflammation.”
When you watch her practice Tai Chi, you are reminded of gentle waves, water that is constantly in fluid movement. She seems at peace with herself and everything around her. “I think part of me staying young is that I have been practicing Tai Chi every day for around 25 years. I still train with my Sifu (teacher) once a week and I teach a couple of classes a week at my dojo (room in which Tai Chi is practised). Before discovering Tai Chi, I have always enjoyed martial arts and did a couple of styles, but I never truly fell in love with any one style. The first time I did Tai Chi, I just knew…this is it! I think I love it so much, because there is absolutely no competition with anyone else involved…you are just in competition with yourself, in your mind.
Everyone needs some quiet time, to connect with themselves again and breathe. And Tai Chi is perfect for everyone. It is a low-impact activity suitable for people of all ages.
My eldest pupil is 82 and my youngest only 11! It is even for those who hate exercise or have long been sedentary. It is a gentle, calming exercise that calms your mind and focuses your breathing. It places minimal stress on joints and muscles and is less likely than other forms of exercise to cause muscle soreness or injury. No special equipment or clothing is needed and it can be practiced almost anywhere, at any time, alone or with others. I am extremely confident that anyone trying out Tai Chi for a period of at least three months, will improve their health and reduce their stress. I have had students go off their blood pressure medication (on instruction of their doctors) while doing Tai Chi. The benefits are endless.”
Erika is a practicing Buddhist and believes in the power of meditation. “Meditation can be very difficult when you try it for the first time. Even when you just sit, with your eyes closed, there is always some or other thought running through your mind. But even in meditation you can still decide what you think. You need to train your mind to be quiet and to be in the moment.”
How does Tai Chi help her in her daily life? “The question should rather be: How can I possibly cope without it? It became a part of me and I apply it in my everyday life. It helps me to focus on the here and now. I use it in business, when I walk and drive…in fact, I think I even sleep Tai Chi. The wonderful thing is that you can take what you learn in the dojo, and use it to improve your life, and those of others outside of the dojo.”
Her other passion is water conservation. “My husband and I install and design anything that can save water. We also try and convince people to save water by re-using grey water, harvesting rain water and not having a huge lawn that needs copious amounts of water to stay green. People do not realise that we are on the brink of disaster with regards to our natural water resources. Without water, there can be no life. All of us need to step up and do what we can to help the environment. Everything in the universe has an action and reaction…Yin and Yang…everything we do will have consequences. My two passions in life are water and Tai Chi, and I think it is no coincidence that some Tai Chi movements flow like water.”
Erika is offering Kormorant readers the chance to experience the benefits of Tai Chi for themselves at a reduced cost. Join the three month challenge for 50% off the normal fee.
For more information on the classes and to book, contact Erika on
084 586 6658.