Tai Chi: a balance of meditation, martial arts
Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer
Tai Chi is a mixture of meditation and martial art that will ground your mind, while improving flexibility and balance, giving the participant more energy and a variety of other benefits. With a focus on breathing, Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that is an internal martial art that promotes self healing and strengthening.
Angela Faircloth, with the Sampson County Department of Aging, said that classes in Tai Chi will be offered at the Center for Health and Wellness starting March 4. The class is designed for anyone 18 and older, particularly those with chronic disease.
The class is being offered through a partnership between the National Arthritis Foundation, the Sampson County Department of Aging and the Center for Health and Wellness. Faircloth explained that the class has numerous benefits to strengthen the health and well being of anyone, especially those that have concerns with arthritis, or other chronic conditions.
“The socialization is key,” stressed Faircloth. “Shut-ins and those who are older may not have a lot of socialization.” She said that Tai Chi lifts their spirits while providing them a good form of exercise.
“They may not have the (social) support since they are not working,” explained Faircloth in stressing the importance of the classes for some. Faircloth is an information referral specialist with the Department of Aging and she is also an instructor for various classes throughout the year. She said that right now they have the biggest demand for the Tai Chi classes, adding that it is also one of her favorites to teach.
“They can make new friends and talk,” said Faircloth about the interaction in the class. “It helps them on every level.” Her class will be offered at the Center for Health and Wellness at no charge, yet another benefit.
Faircloth is a certified instructor for an arthritis exercise class, aquatics, as well as Tai Chi. She said that around 2006 or 2007 she became a certified Master Trainer as an exercise instructor. The headquarters for the National Arthritis Foundation is in Atlanta, and she also helped work with them in Georgia to rewrite their exercise manual.
“Tai Chi helps keep me grounded,” said Faircloth. “It helps center and ground you, while improving flexibility and balance.” She said that she feels better at her age now than she ever has because of the Tai Chi.
“Tai Chi is an internal martial art, not an external, physical martial art,” she stressed. “If you can think it, your body can do it,” she added. The class offers a variety of benefits, and she said that the class is great for self healing as well as being meditative. Other benefits of Tai Chi include increases in flexibility, muscle strength and overall greater fitness. It is particularly helpful in correcting body posture and reducing pain and stiffness. The non-physical benefits include an uplifting of ones spirit as well as a better sense of tranquility.
“I have seen this class in a couple of weeks time change people’s balance and energy levels,” said Faircloth. “Tai Chi allows the body to relax and work on breathing, which is self healing.”
Faircloth said that attendees do no have to any special preparation to take the Tai Chi classes, but a participant needs to wear comfortable clothes as well as good shoes, like tennis shoes. During the class the students will focus on their breathing as they work through the exercises, building themselves up and improving.
“You are constantly breathing during Tai Chi,” said Faircloth. The breathing is a strong focus because it encourages healing of the body since as adults we often find ourselves not breathing deeply and properly. This increase in focus on the breath leaves the individual feeling better with an overall sense of calm.
“This sets the stage to be stronger, more alert, with improved balance,” said Faircloth. “Tai Chi is incredible; it’s what makes me tick.”
“Tai Chi integrates body and mind while improving breathing,” said Faircloth. Proper breathing is essential for health and vitality. Tai Chi is also very portable, and it can be done anywhere you can move, she said. It can be done outside, or even in an airport, or at home after classes are over, and it has unlimited benefit potential. By thinking and focusing, the students find that it becomes easier and easier to do.
Faircloth also trained all of the Parks and Recreation instructors, and she said that classes are often also available at the nutrition sites spread throughout the county.
Angela Faircloth can be reached at the Sampson County Department of Aging by calling 910-592-4653 or emailing her at email@example.com
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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