NEW GLASGOW – Stillness of the body is not necessary for meditation, New Glasgow participants of Taoist Tai Chi are proving.
Taoist Tai Chi participants were doing a class at the Trinity United Church on Tuesday as part of an open house, allowing others to observe the practice. From left to right in the front are Jeannette Vigneault, Fran Knight, and Shirley MacLeod. In the back, starting from the left, are Jayne Reid, Allan Morton, Sandra Findlay, B.J. Stevenson, Angela Johnston and Jim MacLeod. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS
The New Glasgow chapter held an open house at Trinity United Church Tuesday to give newcomers a chance to watch before signing up.
Instructor Sandra Findlay calls the classes a “moving meditation.”
“It’s a whole body and mind experience.”
It features a series of 108 movements, meant to slowly turn and stretch the spine.
“It’s all about the feet,” Findlay said.
Once the foot movements are done, the hands come later on during the learning process.
The practices are gentle, allowing for people of all ages and health to join in.
The group has a sign, joking that it isn’t instant coffee.
“A lot want to do it right away. It doesn’t work that way.”
Using all major muscle groups, it corrects posture, improves co-ordination, balance, circulation and cardiovascular efficiency, and relaxes the mind.
It requires a focus on the moves, and people must calm their breathing.
She said it can be overwhelming at times.
“I remember feeling that way.”
Findlay began training in the Taoist arts in 2010. She saw an advertisement in the paper, and decided to give it a try.
She was hooked.
She noted it’s changed her body, and the way she moves.
The 66-year-old joked that she feels 30, and she said she’s sure it’s due to tai chi.
Findlay broke her arm in 2008, and suffered from tight back muscles.
She realized one day last year that she was no longer in pain.
She started teaching a year ago.
“It’s really nice to know you’re imparting (knowledge).”
The learning never ends, she said.
The practices are always evolving, and require constant work.
“Don’t expect perfection.”
As there are so many different moves, one of the benefits is an improvement in memory.
“It builds new pathways in the brain,” she remembers one instructor used to say to her.
Although there are many health benefits, it’s not the only perk.
“It’s enjoyable to do,” Findlay said.
The practice itself came to Canada with Master Moy Lin-Shin from Hong Kong in 1970, when he established the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism and the Taoist Tai Chi Society.
Findlay said his goal, aside from teaching, was to help others.
The group carries on with his goals in mind, doing charitable work across the world.
The New Glasgow section, which is part of the Nova Scotia North branch, does a meal for the needy in Halifax every year, as well as helping out those who may not be able to afford to attend the tai chi workshops.
Each class is two hours long with a break halfway in for tea and discussion.
“It’s nice to be able to talk to each other.”
They’re a tight knit community, with 28 members in four classes.
Findlay and Jayne Reid teach the two beginner classes. They bring in two continuing instructors for the other two classes.
Beginner classes begin on March 4 with 24 hours of instruction over 12 weeks.
They ask for contributions ranging between $110 and $145, depending on age.
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