New Year is the time of health and fitness resolutions for many people and we probably also have some new residents in the Roundabout circulation area so I’d like to take this opportunity to tell everyone about the Tai Chi classes that I am offering at Laingholm Eleven.
I am a certified Tai Chi teacher with 12 years of training and 10 years of teaching experience. After teaching commercially for several years I’ve decided to try something different and started offering Tai Chi classes in my home studio (Laingholm 11) on a non-commercial basis. The classes have now been going for over 2 years.
Tai Chi is a form of exercise that originated in China. Having been developed during the last several hundred years it is a relatively modern form that draws on ancient roots of Chinese philosophy, medicine and martial arts. Tai Chi is famous for its health benefits, accessibility to people of almost any fitness level (or lack thereof), its graceful and meditative movements, and the old Tai Chi masters who in their late years could defeat much younger and stronger opponents.
Tai Chi is about focus and relaxation, and it is very different from many forms of exercise out there. Tai Chi is different from a workout because in Tai Chi we learn to move effortlessly. Tai Chi is different from Yoga because our focus is on movement rather than on holding stances. In Tai Chi our focus is not on strengthening muscles, but on relaxing them.
Tai Chi is a relative of Qi Gong. Qi Gong is a Chinese form of internal energy cultivation exercises. Tai Chi shares a number of internal aspects with Qi Gong, but unlike Qi Gong Tai Chi also has a strong focus on physical aspects of the movement. Meditation is also a close relative of Tai Chi, in fact Tai Chi is often called “moving meditation” or “meditation in motion” – it is like an application of meditation to movement. So to sum it up, Tai Chi is a union of physical, mental and internal energy practice. It is an art that has a lot of depth and takes decades to truly master.
Coming back to our Tai Chi class at Laingholm Eleven, at the moment there are usually between 5-8 participants in any given session. On the first Wednesday of every month we have an open session when newcomers join in to try it out. About a half of the class participants are from Laingholm and the rest are from other suburbs. Some of the participants have been attending since the very first class and others joined more recently. There’s a varied mixture of people who have done years of various physical and meditation practices and people who haven’t done anything similar before. It is a great group of people to practice with.
I start the class with meditation practice. This first part is designed to help participants put their thoughts, dreams and worries aside and focus their attention on what is happening in the present moment. In this frame of mind we move onto the Tai Chi exercises. There are twelve exercises that I teach in this class and we usually focus on one or two per session. The intention is for participants to learn all of the exercises over time.
The main focus, however, is not on the exercises, but on the Tai Chi principles – the methods of using the mind, the body and the internal energy. The exercises are the vehicles for practicing these principles. Perhaps the most unusual thing for the newcomers is exercising both the body and the mind at the same time. Tai Chi cannot be done while thinking about something else. The effects of using the mind and the body in unison can be profound.
After the session, the participants are invited to stay for a cup of tea (this part is optional). This is especially enjoyable in the winter months when we’ve had a number of interesting conversations in front of the fireplace. People who are interested in Tai Chi are often interesting people.
And here are some of the benefits that were reported by the participants of this class: increased awareness of the body, greater ability to relax, feeling good and having very good sleep after the classes, greater ease in everyday movement such as when going for long uphill walks, improved mental clarity, better self-awareness, reduction in joint and back pain, better balance, etc.
The class runs on every Wednesday evening starting at 7pm sharp. The duration of the class is usually 60-90 minutes. The suggested optional koha is $5 per person. The upcoming open classes are on the 1st of April, 6th of May and 3rd of June. If you are interested to try it out, fill out the registration form on the Tai Chi class page.
PUBLISHED IN MAR 2015 ISSUE OF LAINGHOLM ROUNDABOUT.