I first started practising Taoist Tai Chi™ arts in 1994 when a friend suggested that I join a beginner class. I was a stay-at-home mom, looking for an opportunity to get out of the house and get some exercise. I had tried aerobics and other exercise groups, but they weren’t for me, so I thought I would give the class a try. I found a warm, inviting atmosphere where I could meet wonderful people while getting gentle stretching exercise.
I soon began to see improvements in my health. Years before, I had suffered a soft tissue injury to my ankle. It had never completely healed and frequently caused me pain. Soon after I started the class, this problem went away, and my ankle has never bothered me since.
I continued my practice with the Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi™ organization, attending regular classes in Fairview and workshops in locations such as Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Calgary and the International Centre in Orangeville, Ontario. I also began teaching others and participated in some of the other arts that the organization offers, including chanting, sitting meditation, standing meditation and other sets of movements such as Sword set and Lok Hup set, all aimed at improving health.
The Taoist Tai Chi set of 108 moves exercises the whole body, turning and stretching all the muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments, as well as gently massaging all the internal organs. As I practised and learned more, I gradually became aware of the wide array of benefits this practice brings—physical, mental and spiritual.
I now have improved balance, better flexibility, greater body awareness and a better understanding of what is happening in my body, as well as more awareness of what is going on around me. I continue to have relatively good health, and I seem to have avoided some of the age- and stress-related problems that others in my family and circle of friends experience, like osteoporosis, arthritis and psoriasis.
When I feel occasional twinges of wrist pain, due to my work on the computer, or knee pain, I ramp up my practice and the pain soon goes away. When one of the women at work asked me why I don’t get sick like everyone else, I told her that various studies have shown that Tai Chi boosts the immune system.
The meditative aspect of Taoist Tai Chi practice helps me handle daily stress and my busy environment. I’m able to deal calmly with situations that come up and respond to negative emotions in a positive way. My sister tells me that I am the calmest person in our family of five siblings. Following a long, stressful day at work, I feel much better after my Taoist Tai Chi class.
Practice of these gentle stretching movements is an investment in my health that I wouldn’t want to do without. As some of my older friends tell me, if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Westerners might view health as the absence of disease, while from an Eastern viewpoint, health might be seen as mental, social and physical well-being. Taoist Tai Chi practice is a holistic exercise that helps practitioners develop their health to its greatest capacity.
I am so glad that I was able to find this wonderful organization and take part in these health-improving arts. I plan to continue practising Taoist arts for the rest of my life.
Mary Robertson is a community pharmacist and volunteers as an accredited continuing instructor-in-training with the Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi™ organization. She instructs classes in Taoist Tai Chi™ arts in Grande Prairie and Grimshaw. She also attends classes in Fairview and Edmonton in order to continue her own training. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her grandchildren. Visit www.taoist.org.by