Key to Tai Chi is inhaling and exhaling

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Dr. Christine P. Oriel

7Imagine a wellness program that almost anyone can engage in—something that encourages slow, gliding movements over fast and furious activity and cultivates inner energy. Check out Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is a 1,000-year-old Chinese art of breath meditation and gentle movements that stimulate both the mind and body. The art of Tai Chi thrived through the centuries and was embraced by martial artists around the world, widely adopted as a meditative program and is now extensively being used for wellness recovery programs.

Tai Chi is an excellent path to health especially for seniors, the disabled and persons with health issues who find difficulty doing strenuous exercise. Since it promotes flexibility and tranquility, Tai Chi also benefits the young and those active in other fitness programs.

Calgary is fortunate to have a Tai Chi drop-in program held every Tuesday between 9 a.m. to 10:45 am at the Marlborough Park Community Centre (located at 6021 Madigan Drive NE). Our Chinese- Calgarian friends facilitate the sessions. There are no reservations, no uniforms and no fees.

Wei Wen Rong, 83, and Anna Leung, 79, are two of the senior members who facilitate the Tai Chi practice. There are several other volunteer teachers who provide guidance to anyone who needs it. There is no skill ranking in Tai Chi, but respect of older practitioners is honoured. The senior teachers may have found the fountain of youth as both looked spry and vibrant and exude peace.

The basic Tai Chi requirement is simple enough—anyone who can inhale and exhale— can do Tai Chi. All one has to do is to inhale and exhale (that is, breathe in for four seconds and breathe out for another four seconds in a flowing manner), follow the gentle movements in tune with the soothing background music and you are doing Tai Chi.