Students, faculty, and staff join together to learn an ancient form of body movement capable of simultaneously improving focus, relaxing the mind, and strengthening coordination and balance. Recent research shows that tai Chi is a beneficial practice that can bolster the immune system and dramatically reduce stress. The 24 posture simplified form of tai chi chuan is being taught each Thursday in the Student Center from 12:15 – 12:45.
Sometimes called the Beijing form for its place of origin, the short version of Yang style tai chi is easy to learn and can be modified as needed for those with physical injuries or limitations. Chi (CHEE) is the Chinese word for life force, that intangible substance within us which creates and maintains life. Tai (TIE) is the particular type of movement of this energy within. This type of tai chi was the result of an effort by the Chinese Sports Committee in 1956, who sought to create a simplified form for the masses. Prior to that, tai chi was taught from family to family and person to person, from five different lineages and styles which began over 2,000 years ago. Altogether there are over 100 possible movements and positions with varying intensity.
About 5 years ago, I taught it to a group of 6-8 students, most of whom had martial arts experience. This past semester, we decided in Student Services to offer a lunchtime group and also invite faculty and staff. Weekly attendance in the group averages 8-12 participants. I so enjoy watching the transformation each week as together each person becomes more graceful and coordinated. I see them smiling, moving in unison with each other, creating a level of peace that is difficult to develop as easily, quickly, deeply in another way. As one member of the group, Susan Ward, said to me once, grinning: “Let’s get our chi on!”