Before sarcoidosis hit me, I was a Pilates enthusiast and practiced yoga, too. Between classes and my practice at home, I stayed rather active with these two forms of exercise.
However, like so much in life, the ability to stay active drastically changed after my diagnosis. But then an acquaintance introduced me to the ancient Chinese practice of tai chi.
Tai chi, often called “meditative movement,” is a series of gentle, focused movements in a slow, fluid motion. These movements are combined with deep breathing. It sounds more difficult than it is.
The practice is based on 10 principles, although there are literally thousands of different styles. Tai chi is a noncompetitive, self-paced form of exercise, which means you may be in a class with students of all abilities and levels. This form of exercise is great for stretching, balance, and calming the nervous system — perfect for someone with my symptoms.
I was hesitant to try this new activity. The last thing I needed was to discover I was unable to partake in this activity, too. Yet, despite my concern, I was curious enough to give it a try.
Those in the class I joined made the exercise look effortless. I couldn’t help but feel insecure. However, the individuals in the class, and the instructor, were all welcoming, non-judgmental, and patient. I quickly learned that many of them had health issues, too.
From vertigo and other balance issues to high blood pressure and arthritis, participants in the class utilized tai chi to stay active despite health challenges. It’s generally a safe and effective form of exercise for those who may not be able to engage in other forms of physical activity.
No special equipment or clothing is required to participate in tai chi. I wore loose, baggy clothing to allow for better movement.
I was a little bewildered at first while attempting to learn the principles. This practice does require both focus and patience. Perhaps my background and training in several forms of dance did help me catch on, but there were many in that class who had no formal dance training yet did just fine.
After being a little discombobulated at the start, I found myself enjoying the ease of the dance-like movements, the gentle breathing, and the soothing music. After class, I felt calmer and more relaxed.
Perhaps most importantly, I spent an hour laughing over my blunders, having some fun with other individuals who had health challenges, and not thinking about my own health — a priceless combination.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.