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All,

 

The benefits of yoga has been discussed on various threads lately, so I figured it was time to consolidate the discussions into a single master thread, particularly since there is a new study I wanted to post (see below). 

 

First we saw in this thread that yoga beats both walking and a mediterranean diet for CVD risk reduction. 

 

Then we saw in this post by Cloud that 12 weeks of yoga reduces inflammatory markers in recovering cancer patients. 

 

Now, a new study [1] (popular press story) found that 12 weeks of yoga beat out the "gold standard" memory training technique in people with mild cognitive impairment. The yoga group had lower depression scores, and improved verbal and visuospatial memory compared with memory training. While the study was small, its effects were pretty impressive, and were accompanied by changes in brain region connectivity as measured by FMRI brain scans.

 

With all this evidence of benefit, it seems like a good idea to start practicing yoga, and consider having the next CR Conference at a yoga center like Saul suggests - maybe Sthira and Saul can teach the rest of us!

 

--Dean

 

----------

[1] J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Apr 5;52(2):673-84. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150653.

Changes in Neural Connectivity and Memory Following a Yoga Intervention for Older
Adults: A Pilot Study.

Eyre HA(1,)(2), Acevedo B(1), Yang H(1), Siddarth P(1), Van Dyk K(1), Ercoli
L(1), Leaver AM(3), Cyr NS(1), Narr K(3), Baune BT(2), Khalsa DS(4), Lavretsky
H(1).

Author information:
(1)Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA,
USA. (2)Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South
Australia, Australia. (3)Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, Department of
Neurology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA. (4)Alzheimer's Research and Prevention
Foundation, Tucson, AZ, USA.

BACKGROUND: No study has explored the effect of yoga on cognitive decline and
resting-state functional connectivity.
OBJECTIVES: This study explored the relationship between performance on memory
tests and resting-state functional connectivity before and after a yoga
intervention versus active control for subjects with mild cognitive impairment
(MCI).
METHODS: Participants ( ≥ 55 y) with MCI were randomized to receive a yoga
intervention or active "gold-standard" control (i.e., memory enhancement training
(MET)) for 12 weeks. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging was used
to map correlations between brain networks and memory performance changes over
time. Default mode networks (DMN), language and superior parietal networks were
chosen as networks of interest to analyze the association with changes in verbal
and visuospatial memory performance.
RESULTS: Fourteen yoga and 11 MET participants completed the study. The yoga
group demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in depression and
visuospatial memory. We observed improved verbal memory performance correlated
with increased connectivity between the DMN and frontal medial cortex, pregenual
anterior cingulate cortex, right middle frontal cortex, posterior cingulate
cortex, and left lateral occipital cortex. Improved verbal memory performance
positively correlated with increased connectivity between the language processing
network and the left inferior frontal gyrus. Improved visuospatial memory
performance correlated inversely with connectivity between the superior parietal
network and the medial parietal cortex.
CONCLUSION: Yoga may be as effective as MET in improving functional connectivity
in relation to verbal memory performance. These findings should be confirmed in
larger prospective studies.

PMID: 27060939

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Dean,

 

Your post reminds me:  Lisa Walford attended one of our CR conferences -- and led some introductory yoga practice (for anyone who was interested) before the day's official CR session started.

 

One of the things she had everyone do was an elevated plank -- with feet against the wall and legs horizontal with 90 degree bend at the hips. This was pretty challenging for anyone who hadn't previously spent time on their hands.

 

She also gave a short demonstration.

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Dean, thank you for this thread.

 

I want to point out that Tai Chi is good too. Here is one of the books about it.

 

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind (Harvard Health Publications) Paperback – April 9, 2013

 

http://www.amazon.com/Harvard-Medical-School-Guide-Tai/dp/1590309421?ie=UTF8&keywords=harvard%20tai%20chi&qid=1465451196&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

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I enjoy this 5-minute Tai Chi tremendously. I watch it everyday. I have been studying this set on my own. It is slow, deliberate, flowy, calm and absolutely beautiful. It has pleasant background music too.

 

It is part of a 25-minutes mp4 video. I wanted to take the Tai Chi set out of the video for your viewing, but I don't know how. The rest of the video is in Chinese and would not interest you.

 

The Tai Chi set starts at 6:20. From 9:21 to 10:05, the Tai Chi artist demonstrates outstanding skills in balance, flexibility and strength with a few challenging moves.

 

I tried to upload this video to youtube. I am told that

“This video has been removed because it is too long.”

 

Is there a way that I can take the 5-minutes out and post it on youtube instead?

 

I posted the second best Tai Chi set(with a fan) is here. It is 4:30 long.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuPSMhRCb6o&feature=youtu.be

 

I would like to hear what you think of it. Thanks!

Edited by gracezw

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Grace,

 

Thanks for the Tai Chi pointers. YouTube has video editing facilities built-in, but unless you created the original video yourself, it is probably copyrighted and therefore not permitted for you to post on YouTube.

 

I've heard very good things about Tai Chi for both body & mind, but have never tried it myself. Perhaps you can lead us in Tai Chi sessions at the next CR Conference!

 

--Dean

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Dean, thank you for your very nice words! I appreciate them! Also thank you for explaining the copyright issues for youtube posting.

 

The 5-minutes Tai Chi set is a variation of the 24 form set being the most popular worldwide. Here is the 24 form set edited with English titles:

 

 

Could you change the thread to "Benefits of Yoga and Tai Chi"?

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Thanks Grace,

 

That is a great video intro to Tai Chi. I'm not an expert in either Yoga or Tai Chi, but in my mind they seem pretty closely related, with a healthy focus on developing both the body and mind through physical movement and balance exercises. I'd be happy to change to the title of the thread based on your very helpful contributions.

 

Can anyone who has investigated (or practiced) both disciplines compare and contrast them?

 

At least from the way I've seen people in the US practice yoga and from what little I've done myself, yoga seems significantly more strenuous and stretching-oriented than Tai Chi. Is that a fair observation? 

 

I will readily admit my impression of yoga might be mistaken, since it is based on videos like the one below by Hilaria Baldwin (who I just learned is married to the famous actor Alec Baldwin - who knew!?). For me (and my daughter who has joined me in yoga sessions) this and other Hilaria yoga videos (many of which on PlumTV are no longer available in the US ☹) provide quite a good workout. In fact, Hilaria's yoga sessions beats the crap out of me, in a good way.

 

Sthira or other yoga masters - how representative of yoga as you conceive it are Hilaria's videos like this one?

 

--Dean

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sx8qXUIk8k

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Hello, it is an interesting discussion; I practise Taijiquan for 20 years now and I teach it also part time. Yoga and Taiji present some common points, even if the first in Indian, the second is Chinese and in origin is a martial art. 

I have no time to discuss them now but in the meanwhile I want to suggest the following book, that I consider the best one in English: 

 

 

In these days my teacher, Master Chen Bing, is holding some workshops in the USA (calendar)  . He is an excellent teacher, and created a short form, 13 form, very good for beginner and health proposes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q88vv95ebYk

 

 

all the best, Cloud

 

A Chinese saying from Yang Yang's book related to CR way:   :)

 

Yao bu bu ru shi bu, shi bu bu ru qi bu, shi bu bu ru shen bu.
 
"To improve your health, medicine is not as good as food/nutrition;
food/nutrition is not as good as qi(gong);

qi(gong) is not as good as spiritual nourishment. "

Edited by Cloud

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Sthira... how representative of Yoga as you conceive it are Hilaria's videos like this one?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sx8qXUIk8k

 

 

Please forgive me if this is overwritten -- I'm pushed for time to edit, so I'm just letting this fly out of the nest here with rough feathers.

 

But here's an idea from me targeted specifically to you, Dean: Iyengar: http://www.yogaoncentre.com/product/level-1/

 

You've generously shared so much here on this site, Dean, with your reviews of the CR and longevity literature and reviews of so many cool topics; you've shared your life, your dietary and exercise habits, your personal style, your gardening, your tragedies, your triumphs, your contributions to modern technology, your philosophy and ideological kinship with Nietsche, and most importantly: you've given back friendliness and kindness to all here who've crossed your virtual path.

 

So I feel pretty solid that you'll benefit from this, my own expert suggestion:

 

http://www.yogaoncentre.com/product/level-1/

 

Why this? For one, male engineers tend to like, respect, and gravitate toward Iyengar yoga (if they're interested at all in "yoga" -- which is a challenge for typical western males -- but you ain't typical haha...)

 

Iyengar teachers go through a standardized and rigorous teacher training program that lasts for years and years which I think you'll respect. In order to teach Iyengar, teachers spend years, decades, lifetimes learning anatomy and physiology, and how biology relates to asana. You'll like that. I promise I'm not brainwashed by Iyengar haha -- I love all yoga -- particularly Pattabhi Jois's Ashtanga....

 

But Iyengar is fundamental. It's the base. Ground level asana. Teachers will see your body as an individual body, Dean's body, they'll see how you habitually move through space, understand what your unique alignment needs are, and how to move with fluid economy. Iyengar teachers focus on alignment: how do you stack your bones? They use tools like ropes, blocks, chairs, blankets, bolsters, and they're skilled in the uses of these tools. Proper methods to "do" asana exist -- poses we see on youtubes are often (not always!) sloppy and taught with incorrect alignment. Or alignment is often completely ignored. The increased awareness and detailed anatomical focus taught by Iyengar teachers will appeal to your intelligence.

 

For a beginner (and we're all beginners) relying on youtubes (no matter how great -- and I like the Hilaria practice you've shared) may turn you away from asana after the first signs of doubt, strain, then possible injury.

 

Iyengar yoga for your daughter, as well, who's coming out of a dance and ballet tradition, like I am, would be a huge gift to her. Particularly before she heads off to college. In college she'll be doing that crappy university yoga... Mixed with "barre" ha... But at least with some formal Iyengar training she'll be schooled in alignment. She's likely strong and flexible; but dance often teaches us really bad habits which tend to lead to longterm and regrettable injuries (from experience here (!) and from other professional dancers'). Ballet turnout is beautiful for choreographers and audiences -- but unfortunately it's terrible for dancers' toes, hips, knees, feet, backs, shoulders... and sometimes longterm health. I have so many stories haha.... Giving her the gift of a summer of Iyengar classes would be huge: I wish someone had suggested it to me when I was 17 -- my life would be so different now. Iyengar is popular for experienced and worn down dancers -- it'll help heal and help reset parts of the body that inevitably get overworked and damaged by the brutal daily dance scene grind.

 

But back to you: that studio in Pittsburgh is great. I'd trust it implicitly. Not hyperbole! Go once and you'll see why. Iyengar is as close as you'll get to standardized technique as anything you'll find. I love, love, love ashtanga and Patthabi Jois -- don't get me wrong (here's the best ashtanga primary series out here -- taught by Guruji himself: https://youtu.be/aUgtMaAZzW0)

 

But realize ashtanga was originally designed for 15-year old Indian Army recruits in basic training. Ashtanga is beautiful -- I love it so much -- but for people new to asana, Iyengar is an appropriate and healthy introduction.

 

Also recognize that asana is just one limb of the eight limbs of yoga. Asana is important -- developing and maintaining a strong, flexible, resilient body is huge -- especially for us longevity and CR nerds. But asana is often over-emphasized in the west. The deeper, more profound benefits of practice come from the other limbs. We learn asana to make the body "a more fit vehicle for meditation." From asana, we slowly transition to pranayama -- learning specific breathing techniques -- which may enrich your life and turn it upside down. Pranayama regularly practiced may benefit your health in ways that are really unimaginable from outside looking in.

 

I realize I'm probably really hyperbolic here -- please forgive the writing, it's over cooked :-(

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Sthira,

 

Thanks for your kind words and thoughtful (not over cooked!) advice on Asana yoga, and especially your pointer to the Lyengar teachers at the studio in Pittsburgh.

 

I'd love to give those classes a try, but unfortunately that studio is downtown, which is 50+ minutes from my house in the 'burbs. The only studio close enough to my house for me to consider is Amazing Yoga Wexford. They offer streaming video of their classes on Vimeo ($15/mth) which I wouldn't pay for, but the free preview gives you a feel for their classes. It reminds me a lot of Hilaria's routines, but much more crowded, and without the nice scenery or attractive host . Overall I'd rather follow free YouTube video instructions in my living room. I'm not big into organized fitness classes. 

 

One routine I won't be trying to follow myself (at least not anytime soon) is the one you posted by Patthabi Jois, embedded below. Now that is some hardcore yoga! Man those folks are insanely strong and flexible. I expect you're like this Sthira. Very impressive...

 

--Dean

 

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^^^ yeah, and that's just the Primary!. You should see the Second, Third and Fourth Series! Insane what some beautiful people can do with their bodies! But again -- this is asana. The deeper, more important aspects are internal. And yoga is for EVERYONE -- not just dancers & gymnasts (who in many ways spoil the practice and scare away normal people ...)

 

I'll also add that these practices were considered private and usually only taught to Brahmins until relatively recently. The Beetles, BKS Iyengar and Patthabi Jois really brought modern yoga to the west and to the mainstream. Yoga is everywhere now, of course, as ubiquitous as Starbucks. I support every bit of it -- to me yoga and the yoga movement is almost always positive -- even online yoga (which is sad for teachers losing jobs and students...)

Edited by Sthira

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Dean, I am happy to see that you added Tai Chi to the title of this thread. Thank you!

 

 

 

At least from the way I've seen people in the US practice yoga and from what little I've done myself, yoga seems significantly more strenuous and stretching-oriented than Tai Chi. Is that a fair observation?

 

It is a good comparison from your perspective.

 

I only took a couple of brief yoga sessions. So my knowledge and experience with yoga is very limited. Another difference as I see it is that Tai Chi is more of a mental workout because I need to memorize the sequence of moves, and the way all my body parts are coordinated throughout the set. In the 24 form set, I memorize the sequence of 24 moves and practice the set in that order. After learning a few sets, I could mix and match and create my own sequence.

 

In 5 minutes, the slow, flowing, controlled and continuous movements strengthen muscles in a different way from what fast movements do. If you repeat the 5-minutes routine for 6 times to make up 30 minutes, that would be a great workout too!

 

To look more strenuous, Kung Fu elements-- fast, high jumps-- would be added. Here is an excellent and entertaining Tai Chi Kung Fu set. It is a double synchronized set performed by two of China's top athletes. They move beautifully with classic romantic music in the background. Here is the link:

 

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Cloud,

 

Great to hear that you practice Tai Chi for 20 years, you teach it too, and Master Chen Bing is your teacher!

 

The book you suggested looks good. I would read it. I really like the Chen style 13 form. I would make time to study it. Thanks!

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You've generously shared so much here on this site, Dean, with your reviews of the CR and longevity literature and reviews of so many cool topics; you've shared your life, your dietary and exercise habits, your personal style, your gardening, your tragedies, your triumphs, your contributions to modern technology, your philosophy and ideological kinship with Nietsche, and most importantly: you've given back friendliness and kindness to all here who've crossed your virtual path.

 That is very well said! I feel exactly the same. Thank you, Sthira, for saying all that!

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Dean, I am happy to see that you added Tai Chi to the title of this thread. Thank you!

 

 

 

At least from the way I've seen people in the US practice yoga and from what little I've done myself, yoga seems significantly more strenuous and stretching-oriented than Tai Chi. Is that a fair observation?

 

It is a good comparison from your perspective.

 

I only took a couple of brief yoga sessions. So my knowledge and experience with yoga is very limited. Another difference as I see it is that Tai Chi is more of a mental workout because I need to memorize the sequence of moves, and the way all my body parts are coordinated throughout the set. In the 24 form set, I memorize the sequence of 24 moves and practice the set in that order. After learning a few sets, I could mix and match and create my own sequence.

 

In 5 minutes, the slow, flowing, controlled and continuous movements strengthen muscles in a different way from what fast movements do. If you repeat the 5-minutes routine for 6 times to make up 30 minutes, that would be a great workout too!

 

To look more strenuous, Kung Fu elements-- fast, high and spinning jumps and perfect landing-- would be added. Here is an excellent and entertaining Tai Chi Kung Fu set. It is a double synchronized set performed by two of China's top athletes. They move beautifully with classic romantic music in the background. Here is the link:

 

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Tai Chi compared and evaluated. 

 

Changes in Brain Volume and Cognition in a Randomized Trial of Exercise and Social Interaction in a Community-Based Sample of Non-Demented Chinese Elders

 

J Alzheimers Dis. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 Oct 2.
 
Published in final edited form as:
J Alzheimers Dis. 2012; 30(4): 757–766.
doi:  10.3233/JAD-2012-120079
PMCID: PMC3788823
NIHMSID: NIHMS509822
 
James A. Mortimer,a,* Ding Ding,b Amy R. Borenstein,a Charles DeCarli,c Qihao Guo,b Yougui Wu,a Qianhua Zhao,band Shugang Chub
 
Abstract

Physical exercise has been shown to increase brain volume and improve cognition in randomized trials of non-demented elderly. Although greater social engagement was found to reduce dementia risk in observational studies, randomized trials of social interventions have not been reported. A representative sample of 120 elderly from Shanghai, China was randomized to four groups (Tai Chi, Walking, Social Interaction, No Intervention) for 40 weeks. Two MRIs were obtained, one before the intervention period, the other after. A neuropsychological battery was administered at baseline, 20 weeks, and 40 weeks. Comparison of changes in brain volumes in intervention groups with the No Intervention group were assessed by t-tests. Time-intervention group interactions for neuropsychological measures were evaluated with repeated-measures mixed models. Compared to the No Intervention group, significant increases in brain volume were seen in the Tai Chi and Social Intervention groups (p < 0.05). Improvements also were observed in several neuropsychological measures in the Tai Chi group, including the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale score (p = 0.004), the Trailmaking Test A (p = 0.002) and B (p = 0.0002), the Auditory Verbal Learning Test (p = 0.009), and verbal fluency for animals (p = 0.01). The Social Interaction group showed improvement on some, but fewer neuropsychological indices. No differences were observed between the Walking and No Intervention groups. The findings differ from previous clinical trials in showing increases in brain volume and improvements in cognition with a largely non-aerobic exercise (Tai Chi). In addition, intellectual stimulation through social interaction was associated with increases in brain volume as well as with some cognitive improvements.

 
 
 

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This is so beautiful, thank you grace. Hey that big jump at 1:50 or so and landing is quite amazing. Imagine the impact on that inner knee! Wowza!

 

I really would like to start a Tai Chi practice! I need two or three bodies cloned to do all the different forms of dance I'd like! There's not enough time! We all need to live longer!

Edited by Sthira

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This is so beautiful, thank you grace. Hey that big jump at 1:50 or so and landing is quite amazing. Imagine the impact on that inner knee! Wowza!

I really would like to start a Tai Chi practice! I need two or three bodies cloned to do all the different forms of dance I'd like! There's not enough time! We all need to live longer!

Edited by Sthira, Today, 06:29 PM.

 

Thank you, Sthira, for watching. Yes, many of them are in their 20's and have knee problems. I am glad that you like Tai Chi.

 

Here is a vigorous Tai Chi set with smaller, more reasonable jumps. It is 56 form Chen style, different from the more popular and more gentle Yang style. It is a women's double.

 

 

As a comparison, here is a women's double of 42 form Yang style, with no jumps at all:

 

 

Please let me know what you think of them. Thanks! If you want me to watch and comment a specific yoga video, please also let me know.

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Here is a vigorous Tai Chi set with smaller, more reasonable jumps. It is 56 form Chen style, different from the more popular and more gentle Yang style. It is a women's double.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mamgevx1UBo

 

As a comparison, here is a women's double of 42 form Yang style, with no jumps at all:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxu90ihbiyM

 

Please let me know what you think of them. Thanks! If you want me to watch and comment a specific yoga video, please also let me know.

These videos of this practice are very lovely, Grace. I appreciate the time and dedication it took these athletes to make their routines so effortless. They move with such economy and peacefulness -- such poise. And I love the use of landscape scenes behind them as move together in sync. Think how if all people focused on making the world more beautiful through Tai Chi and dance and art and making dreams come true how much more pleasant our everyday existences here would be. Thank you for sharing the inspiration, Grace!

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These videos of this practice are very lovely, Grace. I appreciate the time and dedication it took these athletes to make their routines so effortless. They move with such economy and peacefulness -- such poise. And I love the use of landscape scenes behind them as move together in sync. Think how if all people focused on making the world more beautiful through Tai Chi and dance and art and making dreams come true how much more pleasant our everyday existences here would be. Thank you for sharing the inspiration, Grace!

 

Sthira, your comments are wonderful. I appreciate them a lot! Thank you!

 

Usually they start to train at about 7 years old. They would have 20 years full time practice before they retire at about 28.

The there sets of doubles won national championships in the year 2014. In 2015, the quality of their costumes, landscape scenes and everything is even better.

 

Here is the mixed double having won the 2015 national championship. The couple look about 18 years old and have super strong knees for the big jumps.

 

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These videos of this practice are very lovely, Grace. I appreciate the time and dedication it took these athletes to make their routines so effortless. They move with such economy and peacefulness -- such poise. And I love the use of landscape scenes behind them as move together in sync. Think how if all people focused on making the world more beautiful through Tai Chi and dance and art and making dreams come true how much more pleasant our everyday existences here would be. Thank you for sharing the inspiration, Grace!

 

Sthira, your comments are wonderful. I appreciate them a lot! Thank you!

 

Usually they start to train at about 7 years old. They would have 20 years full time practice before they retire at about 28.

The there sets of doubles won national championships in the year 2014. In 2015, the quality of their costumes, landscape scenes and everything is even better.

 

Here is the mixed double having won the 2015 national championship. The couple look about 18 years old and have super strong knees for the big jumps.

 

https://youtu.be/Ze573VdTOsw

That is just stunningly beautiful. No other words for it: gorgeous. They've practiced it hundreds if not thousands of times to attain that level of mastery. Thank you so much -- what a gift. And that huge spinning leap landing into full split is somewhere I've never been, and now it's too late. I split my medial meniscus in two -- clean cut right down the center, the orthopedist said after my scope -- and I did it in an accident entirely out of dance: I crashed my bicycle on a patch of ice.

 

They, however, are absolutely gorgeous. I love everything about this clip!

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That is just stunningly beautiful. No other words for it: gorgeous. They've practiced it hundreds if not thousands of times to attain that level of mastery. Thank you so much -- what a gift. And that huge spinning leap landing into full split is somewhere I've never been, and now it's too late. I split my medial meniscus in two -- clean cut right down the center, the orthopedist said after my scope -- and I did it in an accident entirely out of dance: I crashed my bicycle on a patch of ice.

 

They, however, are absolutely gorgeous. I love everything about this clip!

 

What kind of dance did/do you do?

 

Here is the second place for the mixed couple in 2015. It is beautiful too!

 

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They have such amazing feet! And open ankles, calves, shins. So pretty! The landings scare me, though, and I hold my breath when I see big knee risk like that -- and with feet turning out. My body just won't do that!

 

I danced ballet, modern, jazz, lots of goofy hip hop on cafeteria floors and streets with fellow hooligans haha... No biggie injuries until the bicycle crash. Then kaput. Endsville. When an orthopedist tells you, oh we'll just clip out that damaged cartilege and you'll be hunky dory again, they really don't tell you the truth. And as it turns out a partial meniscectomy is no better than placebo. Major sadness set in. And all with meniscal damage (everyone it seems in my ex-world) await these promising new meniscal regeneration promises -- which are lies. They're still working on sheep knees. And regrowing white zone (avascular) meniscal cartilege is way, way,waaaaay more complicated than anyone dreamed. Regeneration of avascular cartilege won't be solved by humans (bless their hearts) it'll be solved by artificial intelligence, I'm convinced.

 

But I digress! Sorry! I love your Tai Chi videos! I think I'm gonna find a class. Yoga's burning me out a little anyway...

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Thank you for sharing your dance experience. I love to hear about it. I will respond tomorrow.

 

I haven't shown you any men's double yet. Here is it with equipment. Absolutely beautiful too!

 

 

Also here a mixed double with equipment. It is a must-see too!

 

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