Discovering the benefits of tai chi

Published 10:13 pm Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chilton County’s seniors are learning about an ancient art form that is catching on around the world for its numerous health benefits for the body and mind.

Instructor Diane McFarland describes tai chi as a “slow, gentle exercise” that people of any age can do.

Chilton Medical Center’s Senior Connection is offering tai chi through the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Montgomery in weekly classes held every Thursday morning from 9 to 10:30 at the Helen Parrish Activity Center of Clanton First United Methodist Church.

The classes began this past week and will continue through December. They are open to any seniors who would like to participate.

The form of tai chi being taught, taijiquan, consists of 108 movements that are performed in a series.

“After you learn it and do it for a while, it just becomes one big single movement,” McFarland said. “It improves balance and circulation while reducing stress.”

Tai chi has often been described as “moving meditation,” she added.

“It’s suited for everyone but is especially good for seniors because it is low impact,” she said. “It’s not about doing the moves exactly right. It’s about doing it the way your body allows you to do it.”

McFarland has taught tai chi for about four years.

“I’ve always just loved any type of exercise,” said participant Judy Headley of Clanton. “I was glad to be able to come – very excited, in fact.”

For more information on Senior Connection or the tai chi program, call Vanessa McKinney of Chilton Medical Center at 280-3346.