Why I practice Tai Chi and Qigong

When I am asked WHY I practise Tai Chi and Qigong, I say, it’s not only because I enjoy practising, but it also keeps me fit, steady on my feet and helps me sleep better. Tai Chi also helps me stay calm during stressful times. When I am asked HOW it helps me in stressful times, there is a story I like to tell about how Tai Chi & Lotus Qigong helped me recover from a major surgery.

Back in May 2016, I had a total Thyroidectomy (removal of the entire thyroid gland). On the morning of the operation, I went into our backyard to do my daily Lotus and Yang Style routine.

I felt calm and relaxed at that stage. Martin, my husband, and I then drove to the hospital and I checked in at Admissions desk at 7.00am. We where asked to take a seat in the waiting area and were told I would be called up when they were ready for me.

When my name was called, I was told to say good-bye to Martin and that they would ring him after the surgery. I couldn’t believe it and started to cry! When asked why I was crying, I told them that in the past Martin was able to sit by my bed until I went into theatre. The nurse laughed and said that would have been a long time ago. She said I would be fine, to bring my case and follow her, so I kissed Martin good-bye and followed the nurse, still crying.

I was given a hospital robe to change into and another nurse took my blood pressure, which was a bit high, so he wanted a doctor to check it. That’s when I lay down on the bed, closed my eyes and in my mind started doing the Yang Tai Chi routine. By the time I finished the form in my mind I felt calm again. The doctor came and checked my blood pressure and had a chat with me. He said to me that I seemed very calm considering what the nurse had told him. So, I told him about doing Tai Chi in my mind. The doctor said to keep doing this as my blood pressure was back to normal and I was very relaxed.

A little while later they wheeled me into the operating theatre, with me still doing Yang in my mind (I could almost hear GM Eng Chor’s voice from the instruction CD playing in my head….)

Around 4-5 hours later, I was wheeled back to the ward, and there was Martin waiting for me. After he had left, I asked the nurse if I could have a shower. She said yes, but that I may need help with the walk and having a shower. When I started walking to the bathroom on my own, the nurse couldn’t believe it. She said I didn’t need any help with walking as I was very steady on my feet. When I got to the shower, the nurse said to just press a button that was in the shower if I needed any help and left me to it. I had my shower, changed into my PJ’s and walked back to bed without needing any help at all!

Later, the nurse returned to check up on me. She said that I was recovering really well. She mentioned there where three other patients that day who had the same operation, who still couldn’t get out of bed.

I was lucky enough to have a bed with a window view. The next morning, I was sitting up in bed and watching the birds wake up. It looked like they were doing their own version of the Lotus routine! So, I got up and very gently did the Lotus routine next to my bed. It felt really good so that every hour after that I would get out of bed and gently do the Lotus Qigong.

When my specialist came to check up on me, he was very surprised how well I looked after the surgery. I asked him if it was OK for me to do the Lotus exercise. He asked me to show him the routine, which I did. He said that it was good and to keep up the great work. He also said I was recovering so well he could send me home right then. But I needed to stay in hospital for the next 24 hours, as they had to keep an eye on my blood pressure levels. He said I should be able to go home soon after. The specialist then asked what Yang was, as it was mentioned in the clinical records and that it had dropped my blood pressure. I explained that Yang was a Tai Chi form that I’d been practising for the last couple of years. He started to laugh and said THAT explained everything, because as I was being wheeled into theatre, I told him that I couldn’t lose my voice as I was a Trainee Instructor with the Celestial Tai Chi College!

I believe that Tai Chi helped me recover more quickly from my operation. Initially, I was told that I would be in hospital for 3 to 4 nights, that I would not be able to go back to work for 4 to 5 weeks and that I would not be able to go to Tai Chi class for at least 4 weeks.

However, I only stayed two nights in hospital, I was back to work within two weeks and only missed two weeks of Tai Chi classes at Bundoora!

Most importantly, however, I practice Tai Chi and Qigong because it makes me happy!

Margaret Bay
Instructor, Bundoora

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Updated: 26 October 2019