While wisdom comes with age, so does a changing body, with or without our consent.
However, Tai Chi offers many physical benefits, including improving strength, flexibility, balance and posture.
These things “don’t seem so huge when you’re 20, but when you reach this ancient age, we start to feel things,” laughed Karen Broughton, who has been practicing and teaching Tai Chi for over 20 years.
Tai Chi can also help with chronic pain, including arthritis, depression and anxiety, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and Parkinson’s disease, according to the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism.
Broughten herself has dealt with osteoporosis, arthritis, chronic back pain, frozen shoulders and limited strength in her legs – all of which found relief and strength through her practice of Tai Chi. The health benefits are evident to students in the class she teaches in 100 Mile.
“After our session today (Sept. 12), participants were saying how if they hadn’t started Tai Chi when they had, they doubted they’d be walking how they are now. They were convinced they’d have to have surgery by now,” said Broughton.
Perhaps one of the most inviting things about Tai Chi is its inclusivity, which can be catered to those in a wheelchair, using a walker or with other mobility issues, she said.
“We can adapt the set for them without any bother to anybody else.”
The Tai Chi set practised in 100 Mile House involves 108 moves, some of which are repeated first three times by the instructor, followed by the instructor and participants together, and finally the participants three times on their own.
A full set may take 15 to 25 minutes to complete, depending on how quickly they’re performed, and then rest time.
Broughton described Tai Chi as a moving meditation.
“When we start working on the movements, we don’t think about the grocery list, we don’t think about what’s happening with little Joey at school, and we don’t think about the business of our lives. We’re just focusing on trying to accomplish these moments and it’s quite liberating to be able to let the other stuff go for a while.”
Not only do participants find Tai Chi calming, but Broughton said she’s heard from observers watching the group at community events how calming it is just to watch.
“When doing a demo in the community, we feel like we’re contributing to that feeling of helping people relax for a little while. Give them a sense of peace for the short time that they’re near us.”
Tai Chi is an organization known for giving to others rather than receiving, and the two instructors in 100 Mile House, Broughton and Jane Duncan, volunteer their time teaching their weekly classes.
The 100 Mile House Tai Chi participants range from working age to retirees upwards of 80 or 90. Broughton encouraged younger people to try Tai Chi, as well.
“We’re happy to support beginners, and we’ve all been beginners. We know what it’s like.”
Classes in October will be held Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Creekside Seniors Centre at 501 Cedar Avenue in 100 Mile House. Tea and refreshments will be included.
For those curious about trying Tai Chi, Bring-a-friend Day is on Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. and Oct. 5 at 1:30 p.m.
Learn more by visiting taoist.org or calling 250-542-1781.