Tai Chi class celebrates second year with ‘recital’

Published 3:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that is now practiced as a graceful form of exercise.

On Wednesday, the tai chi class at the Colley Senior Complex celebrated its second year   with a demonstration of the exercise that is often described as meditation in motion.

Rich Chhoun, a massage therapist in Troy, leads the group at 7 a.m. each Wednesday and Friday at the complex. His expressed pride in the advancement his class has made in a relatively short time.
“They all have come quite a way since we started,” Chhoun said. “How far they have come is impressive. Last year, they performed eight forms or series of movements. This time, they performed 24 forms. They have learned a lot.”

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Chhoun said tai chi is a low-impact, slow motion exercise where participants go through a series of motions without pausing.

“It’s exercise but it is like a slow dance,” he said. “And it has many benefits. Tai chi improves body strength, movement and balance, which is a concern for many seniors because the loss of balance is cause for many falls. Tai chi also improves your breathing. It helps you concentrate and provides opportunities for fellowship. And, you don’t need a prescription for tai chi.”

The tai chi class demonstrated a “dance” that included 24 forms and was almost like watching a ballet, said Catherine Jordan, director of the senior complex.

“Just watching the demonstration was soothing and relaxing,” she said. “I can only imagine how it was for them. Tai chi is exercise that anyone can do and can benefit from. It’s a beautiful way to exercise.”

Each participant received a certificate of advancement, which they all said, was just that, not a diploma.

“We’ve just begun,” they laughingly said.

Victoria Burden said tai chi has improved her overall body movement, her strength and her balance.

“It’s relaxing and helps clear my mind and I go through the day more relaxed,” she said.

For Sharon Mitchell, tai chi is all about wellness.

“It has helped with my breathing and my movement,” she said. “I can move around much easier and more gracefully. I’m more relaxed and just feel better. Tai chi is a graceful and relaxing way to exercise.”
Mark Kelly said the stretching movements and the breathing exercises are beneficial, even while standing in line at the airport.

“Those exercises relieve stress and help you relax,” he said. “Tai chi helps you physically and mentally. My concentration has improved. My flexibility has improved and my balance.”

The entire exercise group demonstrated the ability to balance on one foot while laughing all the while.

“The comraderie of tai chi is amazing,” said Beth Jennings. “We have become good friends and enjoy being together even at 7 o’clock in the morning.”

Tai chi is exercise but it’s more than that, it’s almost like a big dose of medicine taken early in the morning that keeps you going all day long, the classmates said.