Donald's story

Donald has been living with psoriasis since the early 2000s, but has found that Tai Chi helps him to cope with the physical pain that he sometimes suffers with, as well as helping to clear his mind.

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I was first diagnosed with psoriasis in the early 2000s although it was not a surprise since my mother and two uncles had the condition for many years.

I am lucky, other than the inevitable flare-ups when I have to resort to steroids, I manage with a myriad of creams and ointments. My feet and ankles are most affected so mobility can be both slow and painful.

I came to Tai Chi in 2006 by accident. My young son wanted to explore a different martial art and decided to give Tai Chi a try. I took him to meetings and sat to the side to read a book. One evening the trainer suggested I join in, and so started my induction into the discipline.

Tai Chi is of Chinese origin and many will be familiar with the representative Ying Yang circular symbol in black and white. I would define Tai Chi as ‘opposites working in perfect balance’.

Since my early beginnings, and through different styles, I have found three aspects that I particularly value.

Balance - In perfect Ying Yang, every move to the right is followed by a move to the left. Often balancing on one leg whilst turning, then balancing on the other leg. I rarely achieved this when I started but now I get it right more often.

Memory - With over 100 move sequences with translated Chinese titles such as ‘grasp bird’s tail’ and ‘snake creeps down’, there is immense satisfaction to performing the whole sequence in the correct order without mistake.

Breathing - Each sequence also requires a smooth, deep inward breath to be followed by an equally smooth outward breath.

You can practise almost anywhere, inside and outside. It takes around 40 minutes to warm up, perform the sequence before some gentle breathing and movements to finish. After a good session my aching joints do not complain, and my mind is clear and calm.