With the first month of 2017 almost behind us, many have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions. However, the senior residents of The Legacy Willow Bend are just getting started as they participate in the community’s new Tai Chi Principles and Pranayam programs to help build and maintain healthy lifestyles. Through the gentle movements of Tai Chi and the deep breathing exercises of Pranayam, the new programs are designed to help residents improve their balance, strengthen their bodies, increase mobility, reduce their chances for depression and remain independent longer. The new programs are examples of the community’s dedication to providing activities that encourage whole-body wellness benefitting the mind, body and spirit. With the guidance of the instructors, the residents are exploring new forms of fitness that are fun and challenging. The programs will focus on body and breathing awareness, proper posture and pain management.
“Attending the first class, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Karen Kurzman, resident of The Legacy Willow Bend. “It was challenging and yet enjoyable at the same time. I’m looking forward to starting slow and building a complete understanding of the movements and how the benefits of the practice will positively impact my sense of well-being. I hope to improve my posture and strength as well as my overall awareness of my body.”
“We are excited to offer these new programs so that residents have the opportunity to view fitness from a different perspective,” said Alice Carpenter, wellness coordinator at The Legacy Willow Bend. “These unique forms of fitness help individuals relax while exercising their bodies. Through these techniques, participants will learn how to become more aware of their own bodies and enhance their physical and mental abilities.”
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition – originally developed for self-defense – that is practiced today as a graceful form of exercise. Tai Chi principles are rooted in Qigong (pronounced Chee Gong), the heart of quality Tai Chi training. The class will begin with an explanation of the principles and a foundational Qigong exercise.
Participants will focus on understanding their bodies, creating new habits, developing core strength and establishing a better sense of self. Fayne Bouguyon, co-founder of SimplyAware, is teaching the Tai Chi Principles class at The Legacy Willow Bend.
“I have worked with seniors for many years,” said Bouguyon. “My goal as we begin this journey is to help each person learn how to use their own body most effectively. Over the first several classes, they will work on understanding what their body feels like when it is in their best alignment versus out of alignment. They will work on feeling grounded and strong versus unstable. They will learn Tai Chi walking which will help take the “fall” out of their walk. Throughout the process, they will learn to become aware of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. With that, they will find the strength and smiles within. It’s truly an amazing process to witness.”
Pranayam is an ancient Indian deep-breathing technique that helps people extend their breathing cycle and enjoy a physically and mentally healthy life through the awakening of inherent energy within the body. The class focuses on extending the breathing cycle and taking advantage of the full capacity of the lungs. Volunteer instructor Krishna Kalra, 75, plans to show residents the benefits that come from learning the techniques and how they can use them each day, even outside of class. As a cancer and heart attack survivor, Kalra has seen the benefit of these very techniques in his own life.
“The majority of people breathe very shallowly, we don’t naturally breathe deeply enough to reach the lungs,” said Kalra. “If enough air isn’t reaching the lungs, then you’re not supplying enough energy to adequately recharge the lungs, meaning you’re not experiencing the full benefit. As we age, this naturally becomes more difficult, and by awakening the inherent energy within us we reduce stress and relax the mind. I want to help other seniors to learn how they can increase their quality of life and feel fully energized so they can enjoy a full healthy life.”
“At The Legacy Willow Bend, we are always looking for ways to encourage residents to remain active,” said Marilyn Israel, executive director of The Legacy Willow Bend. “By providing classes like Tai Chi and Pranayam, we can give residents the tools they need to strengthen their mind, body and spirit. We are excited to see how these new programs spark interest among the residents and encourage everyone to stay active as we move further into the new year.”