Having studied Tai Chi for many years and attended workshops around the country I can say that Jim Bayer is one of the best instructors I have had the privilege to study with. Possessing a high skill level and a special talent for teaching, Jim is always respectful of his students and dedicated to the art of Tai Chi Chuan.
Three years ago the pain in my lower back and my knees was so intense that I was unable to lift my 2 year old grandchild. The doctor said it wouldn't get better and most likely would
get worse. He gave me pills for pain and said I'd probably be on them for the rest of my life.
Surgery would not help. I don't like pills. They can do bad things to the liver. I'm fond of my liver.
But what I wasn't fond of was using my hands to lift my legs when getting out of a car. Also, it made me very sad to be too weak to lift my two-year-old grandson. When a friend saw that I was having trouble getting out of my chair to refill my coffee, she suggested acupuncture and told me about tai chi. I'd never heard of tai chi and I wasn't much for exercise. But, since someone else had once mentioned acupuncture, I thought, "Nothing else is working and acupuncture can
do no harm. It might help and I was miserable and desperate."
I went for acupuncture once a week for about a year, with remarkable results. After about
2 months of treatment, my acupuncture practitioner, Judi Conti, began telling me about tai chi
and never let up about the benefits. Eventually I went to an introductory workshop and now I
study with Jim Bayer. I no longer have pain; I no longer need acupuncture. I am on no pain pills.
I have more energy than I had ten years ago and certainly more flexibility and improved posture.
I can roll around on the floor with my now six-year-old grandson and can pick him up and even swing him around without fear of dropping him. What a joy! And I feel great!
I'm not a very good tai chi student. Although I don't miss lessons, neither do I practice enough. I can't do all the postures. I get my lefts and rights mixed up. But, none of this really matters, because I have learned to relax and learned how to de-stress. I sleep better at night. I can bounce
in and out of a car without difficulty; I have a lot of energy. If you are contemplating tai chi taught by Jim Bayer, don't wait. The sooner you start, the sooner you will start reaping the benefits.
Oh, one more thing. I'm 76 years old, and darn proud of it.
Osteoarthritis of my right hip has been a growing and painful experience for over fifteen years. Just over a year ago my doctor, after examing the latest x-ray, described it as "severe degenerative joint disease." Not particularly enthusiastic about undergoing a hip replacement, my wife urged me to try T'ai Chi.
After a year of working with Jim Bayer, T'ai Chi Ch'uan instructor, I am now able to walk over a mile without excessive pain and limping, climb and descend stairs without using the handrail, and put on a pair of trousers standing up instead of having to sit down to get my legs into the pant legs. T'ai Chi requires determination and practice and, above all, a good instructor. I heartily recommend it. Time and patience is required, but it will reward you in many amazing ways.
I started Tai Chi and nearly quit after a month. I had a sense or feeling of the benefits but really felt like I wasn't actually learning it. We would follow the movements of the teacher, with no stopping to check anything. It felt more like a very light, low-impact aerobics class than anything else. Fortunately, I thought I would at least try another instructor before I quit.
Then I found Jim. I was blown away the first class. I REALLY felt it in my body. He put me in the correct posture with accurate and careful adjustments. I realized then that I wasn't really learning Tai Chi in the other class. It "appeared" as though we were, but we were just going through the motions. With Jim it was the real deal.
I believe what makes Jim great is his work ethic combined with a constant striving for improvement. And he shares the vast experience gained from that openly and freely with all his students.
I've had many teachers in various disciplines throughout my life. Jim is a rare gem. The best part for me is the joy that he brings to each class.
After 2 years I feel like I have a true sense of the art, and that it's something I'll be able to continue to explore and grow further in for the rest of my life. Something that satisfies all my curiosities: mental, physical, spiritual, and social.
After reviewing the CAT-scan of my low back, a surgeon at my hospital's spine clinic confessed, "I can't understand why you're still walking! It must be the T'ai Chi."
I'd been diagnosed with a serious spine condition, including arthritis and a displaced vertebra (spondylolisthesis). The surgeon acknowledged that studies show T'ai Chi practice can strengthen bones. His recommended treatment: "Keep up with your T'ai Chi. Come back to see me if you feel worse."
That was 2005; I haven't been back.
I have Fibromyalgia and had so much pain in my knees I had troubledoing stairs. I worked in the beginning class at a little slower pace.
Jim lets students work at their own pace, but encourages them to always do just a little more. (Take your time. Jim is a very good teacher and wants the best for you, but you know your own body.) It took 6 months before my knees had no pain. I do steps without even a twinge usually. I also took longer to complete the whole form, but it was so worth it. The movement part is the most beneficial to me, but the meditation and holding postures is a necessary part of it to get all the benefits.
I feel much less pain in all my joints. It does hurt doing some of the exercising parts of Tai Chi, but I am so much stronger, and usually feel totally refreshed during and even right after I stop practicing. No other form of excercise has ever made me feel good right away.
This is a wonderful supplement to lifestyle for a person with Fibromyalgia. I would encourage those who try to not give up. Not expect pain free for 6 months to two years, and to faithfully practice even 5-10 minutes per day.
I might have been disabled by now if I had not made Tai Chi part of my permanent active lifestyle. I have been practicing for 3 years and need to continue this practice for the rest of my life.
In addition to a number of physical problems (diabetes and high blood pressure), in February, 2003, I had a back operation. It was only partially successful. For almost a year I tried physical therapy and medications. Even with ever-increasing dosages of pain medicine, I got little relief.
One day at Washington Park Senior Center I was attempting to play pool.
I could stand up for about ten to fifteen seconds, but mostly I just moved from
one chair to another. That day in the same room, Jim was doing a demonstration session;
I couldn't help overhearing. I noticed, too, the limitations and ages of the workshop
participants. The things Jim was saying made sense.
Two of my sons had been trying to teach themselves "Long Fist" Kung Fu from a book. T'ai Chi, as Jim was presenting it, reminded me of what I heard from them and what
I had read. I decided to try it.
By the third session, I could stand for more than an hour without pain. The bad news, however, was that now I was obliged to accompany my wife on her shopping trips; I couldn't sit in the car listening to the radio! I didn't need pain medication any longer.
When my doctor saw my improvement, he stopped my physical therapy. The doctor asked me
what had changed. I told him I was doing T'ai Chi, he said, "If I had known you had access to T'ai Chi, I would have told you to start the exercise immediately." He warned me, though, that if I ever stopped, I might regress. I believe he's right.
In the course of time, my other medical problems went away. I eventually stopped taking medication for my diabetes and high blood pressure. I have also learned to
relax and have found some stress relief and a sense of peace, but these are issues that I'm still working on.
In January of 2002 a friend of mine called and asked if I would enroll in a
T'ai Chi class with her. Without knowing much about it I agreed, thinking that I would do the nine-week session and that would be that.
I found that learning the form was a true test of patience with myself. Dealing with my frustrations and what I considered 'inabilities' eventually gave way to many positive results. The more I practiced the better I felt. Daily increments of success brought forth personal growth, which in turnkept me intrigued enough to continue.
The benefits I receive from practicing T'ai Chi are both physical as well as internal. Feeling balanced and centered promotes a healthy and positive outlook in my daily life.
There is always more to learn. Jim Bayer's knowledge and skill as a teacher challenges me as a student.
Jim, just wanted to tell you the information and instructions you provided to help with my headaches has proved to be phenomenally effective. The more I think about the chronic nature of them and the fact that almost instantly your insights helped control and virtually eliminate them, I would have to label this as a miracle! For two solid weeks, I have been able to abort every onset of a headache. I'm taking to heart your further instruction to start catching them earlier and earlier until they don't even have a chance to start. Just very cool stuff. Feel free to share this with anyone. I'm sure others with an assortment of issues could easily benefit from your knowledge and experience.
Five years ago I had knee replacement surgery for my right knee. Four months ago I had the same surgery for my left knee. My recovery after the recent surgery has been a lot easier and faster than for the surgery of five years ago. For this I credit Jim's Tai Chi classes.
I was not taking Tai Chi five years ago; I started with Jim's class about 6 months before the second surgery. I am convinced that things that Jim has taught me-- learning to ground myself and bring energy (chi) into my legs-- along with the general improvement in leg strength and balance have contributed a lot to my positive outcome.
On top of the physical benefits, I have found positive mental and spiritual benefits as well.
I enrolled in my first t'ai chi class because I needed an exercise plan. My intention was to learn enough so that I could give up the class and practice at home. Five years later I am still taking classes and also practicing at home every day. The benefits have been way beyond my expectations. Not only did my blood pressure go down, the pressure in my eyes (a sign of glaucoma) also lowered. My legs are stronger and my bone density tests have been very good. I have learned to be more tranquil and don't worry as much, and increased my self-confidence. I don't catch colds or other illnesses that go around as often as I used to. My relatives and friends have noticed the positive changes. I've made wonderful friends in the classes and look forward to seeing them every week. Not having this class would leave a real void in my life, but I know that I can practice t'ai chi as long as I live.
I began playing Tai Chi six weeks before my sixty-fifth birthday. All my adult life my blood pressure
had been elevated, sometimes to dangerous levels. The highest reading I remember is 195/148.
BecauseI have been a double-red blood donor for many years, I have a long and accurate record of my blood pressure readings. I have been more mindful of healthy living in recent years, and my blood pressure has consequently been lowering,
but the best reading I ever had was 125/78. Until Tai Chi. Twenty eight weeks after my first Tai Chi lesson, the good news was in: 108/66. Amazing.
As Jim says, "You have begun to relax. Now relax more." May it be so.
I was still pondering what I could write about the benefits of T'ai Chi other
than my improved health when my left foot went straight out from underneath
me outside of the 76th St. Ponderosa and I was suddenly facing the winter
constellations. A split second later, before my mind could finish screaming
Oh ssSSHHHHI... I found myself in a one-handed "Get Set" sprinter's starting
position. My wife Chrissie and others were so in awe of my incredible
gymnastics that they asked if I was OK. I hurriedly said that I was.
After the shock wore off I realized that I WAS OK. After I regained my
composure, I went back into the Ponderosa to warn the manager about the
ice that was completely invisible.
Other than the immediate physical health benefits of Tai Chi practice (stronger leg muscles so it's easier to do everything from climbing stairs to carrying groceries and shoveling snow) the mental health benefits are equally beneficial. When I went to my dentist for a crown on one of my teeth I was able to mentally "relax more" while sitting in the chair. My dentist is very "painless" and I know that Novocain is my friend. However, it is still a stressful and unpleasant procedure. I was able to mentally relax my body while the procedure was going on. No death grip on the arm of the chair or tense back muscles. In the past after a long procedure like a crown fitting, after getting up from the chair, my back would be sore from keeping the muscles tight during the whole procedure. Since practicing Tai Chi this is no longer a problem for me. Dental procedures are certainly not pleasant but are now much less stressful due to the ability to specifically focus my mind from practicing Tai Chi. I've been a Tai Chi student for a little over a year.
When I started studying T'ai Chi I was looking for a form of meditation through movement. I had never been a very "bodied" person; I wanted something that would help me discover my physicality. T'ai Chi has more than fulfilled its part of the bargain. It has indeed become a moving experience for me in body, mind, and spirit.
Since T'ai Chi is most obviously a physical activity, I'll begin with changes it has brought to my body. As I recall my first classes, one of the dominant images is of hobbling to and from the parking lot. I was certain I would soon need bunion surgery. There were times when I could hardly walk. Through T'ai Chi I have learned better posture and weight distribution across the bottoms of my feet. I no longer have a bunion problem.
The next area in which I experienced positive results was with tendonitis in my elbows. I had had serious episodes, off and on, for about ten years. Sometimes the effects were so severe; I could not grasp and hold objects in my hands. As a music teacher and performer, this situation was intolerable. With T'ai Chi, I was able to eliminate the pain and correct the problem. I have had no further outbreaks.
Perhaps the most significant improvement--and the one with the most profound mental and spiritual implications--has been learning to relax my shoulders and raise my head. I have gone through my life as though flinching in anticipation of a blow. T'ai Chi has taught me to "drop the shoulders and raise the head top." The result has been astonishing. I feel like a new person, because although the change began in my body, it has literally given me a new outlook (and in-look).
The meanings that have surfaced from my T'ai Chi practice are powerful and have resulted in life changes that others are seeing in me. It is true that the physical body tells one's life story. I have been doing T'ai Chi for about four years. The changes have been incremental, but observable. My husband commented the other day, "Your energy seems so much more focused." My concentration has improved as I have been able to relax and release undesirable tension. I am discovering that I do not need to "grit my teeth" or "gut it out" in order to make my way through life. I am discovering ways to claim my personal power, to be assertive without being defensive.
The wonderful thing--one of the wonderful things--about T'ai Chi is that though I am not one of the more able people in my class (I am not at all athletic) I have, nevertheless, accrued many benefits from the practice. Doing the form is energizing and enlivening. I look forward to daily practice because I know I will come away justa little bit better.
When I started T'ai Chi my marriage of fourteen years was in demise and I had gotten so sick I lost weight and could no longer stand for more than thirty minutes at a time. I found no help among doctors with my inability to digest properly or retain any nourishment.
Through the course of two years and continuing study, I am not only slowly returning to a state of maintainable health but I am learning to connect with the home I carry within me, my own strength of spirit, and to find a practicle way of fearless gentle action in the world.
I have found that T'ai Chi has provided balance for all aspects of the self so I am capable of living a more genuine life within the nature of who I am. In this way, whatever place we are and whatever time weare given, we can approach it wholeheartedly, with whole being.