Mind and body work together to help heal the body in Tai Chi.
Its slow deliberate movements are designed to flow into one another to improve health and balance while bringing a sense of peace to the practitioner Karen Broughton, one of Creekside Seniors Centre’s Tai Chi instructors, said. Anyone can benefit from the practice but it seems to be particularly beneficial for older people and those with limited mobility.
Broughton discovered Tai Chi about 19 years ago.
“I’ve been doing it for a long time with good reason. It has been very helpful for me,” she said.
Broughton was in her late 40s and was aware of how weak her legs were, to the point where she had difficulties getting up the stairs. She began looking for a solution. She thought about traditional activities such as aerobics but decided she was not “an aerobics kind of girl.”
Then she came across a display at a mall in Chilliwack playing a video showing Tai Chi. She knew this was what she was looking for and signed up, never looking back.
When she began Tai Chi she was only thinking of her legs. She also had chronic back pain but nowadays she has no back pain at all.
Jane Duncan is the second teacher at the centre. She was at the fall fair in 2010 and saw Broughton at one of the booths with a loop tape of people doing Tai Chi.
Duncan did not have any obvious health issues at the time but she thought it looked “gorgeous.”
“And it just appealed to my dancing soul,” she said.
They teach Taoist Tai Chi under the direction of the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism.
Gail Orr, 84, is one of the participants in the class.
She had always had an interest in it but working full-time could not find the time. It was around 2007 when she was at the Garlic Festival that she got started after she saw Broughton at a booth.
Her first time the group began to learn about centering and learning some basic moves.
“I didn’t know anything about it then. So anyways, when newcomers come here I tell them be patient, keep going, it will gradually come.”
She developed arthritis but over the years she has found it has not progressed very much. Orr practices at home three times a week, then goes to the centre.
Another thing Orr found out as she got older was her balance was not very good. She discovered Tai Chi helps with that as well.
An article in the Canadian Family Physician November 2016 edition summarized the evidence on the health benefits of Tai Chi. The article said that during the past 45 years more than 500 trials and 120 systematic reviews have been published on the health benefits of tai chi.
The conclusion states that “There is abundant evidence on the health and fitness effects of tai chi. Based on this, physicians can now offer evidence-based recommendations to their patients, noting that tai chi is still an area of active research, and patients should continue to receive medical follow-up for any clinical conditions.”
The classes at the centre are still in the start up stages after the pandemic. Broughton encourages anyone interested in learning more to get in touch with them.