Fall Tai Chi and Yoga at ProActive Fitness

This is a guest post from my friend, Dianne Bailey. Dianne is a long-time practioner and teacher of Tai Chi and she developed the Open the Door to Tai Chi System that I teach at ProActive Fitness. 

There are many studies that show a decrease in the fall risk for those that participate in Tai Chi, but there are few discussions about why or how Tai Chi has any effect on improving balance.  As a long time Tai Chi practitioner and instructor, I would like to posit some ideas to explain this phenomenon.

There are some basic underlying principles in Tai Chi and these principles are what really drive the benefits including improved balance.  Here is a list of some of these principles and how applying them to your movement can help reduce the risk of falling.

Columns:  There are 3 columns in your body.  One runs straight down the center of your body and the other 2 run from your shoulder vertically through your hip on both sides. These columns need to keep their integrity by keeping your shoulders above your hips.  Think about a person using a walker.  They are typically bent forward somewhat and have broken their “columns.”  This bent over position is a risk factor for falling. The idea of keeping the “columns” intact not only helps people keep a good posture, but encourages them to keep their eyes on the horizon and not look down all the time.

Moving from the dan tian:  The dan tian is 2 inches in from the belly button and 2 inches down.  It is the center of your energy in Tai Chi and it is also the center of your mass. By thinking about moving from the dan tian, you will keep your columns intact and won’t lead with your shoulders or head as you step forward.

Substantial and insubstantial:  This principle deals with understanding where your weight is at all times during movement.  One leg is substantial and is your base of support.  The other leg is insubstantial so you can move forward, backward or to the side.  As you move, you should be aware of bringing your dan tian to your substantial side.  In other words, you are bringing your center of mass over your base of support which is ideal for balance.

Rooted and grounded: The idea of being rooted and grounded in Tai Chi is one of “fluid stability.”  While you can imagine roots growing deep and wide from your feet, you are not glued to the ground.  It’s more of an awareness through your feet and allowing them to react to the ground.  It’s also the idea of lowering your center of gravity slightly which makes you more stable.

Relaxation:  Believe it or not, being able to relax as you move is important for balance.  When your body is tense, you are less likely to adapt to change and therefore, you are at a greater risk for falling.​​

Prefer Yoga?

If yoga is more your thing, Lisa Leis will be back with Gentle Yoga on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. starting October 10th and running until November 21st (no class on October 31st). 

These 75 minute classes are suitable for all levels. Cost is $96 + GST. Limited to 10 participants. Email simone@proactivefit.ca​ or call the studio to register. 

Asian Shrimp and Noodles

There is no need for take-out with this quick-n-tasty recipe for Asian Shrimp and Noodles! This dish has all of the Asian flavours that you love, with a fraction of the carbs and calories of traditional take-out.

All of the flavours, none of the guilt!

This dish is pretty epic: plump shrimp and tender veggies combine with savoury sauce and satisfying veggie noodles. Yes, please!

What you need
Serves 4

For the Coconut Amino Sauce

  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos (you can sub soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon liquid stevia
  • 1 Tablespoon chili paste (sambal oelek)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

For the Noodles

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper

For the Shrimp and Veggies

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups (5oz) white cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced

Instructions

For the Coconut Amino Sauce

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the sauce ingredients together. Whisk until fully combined.

For the Noodles

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel the sweet potato and peel and seed the butternut squash and run both through a spiral slicer to create long, thin noodles. Toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Set aside.

For the Shrimp and Veggies

  1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 2 Tablespoons of the coconut amino sauce and the shrimp. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until fully cooked. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the mushroom, bell pepper, zucchini and carrot to the skillet. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp, noodles and remaining coconut amino sauce back into the skillet and stir until fully combined.
  4. Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Nutrition
193 calories, 4g fat, 20g carbohydrate, 6g sugar, 429mg sodium, 3g fibre, and 19g protein.