Tai Chi Wonder
College Station, Texas – February, 2012-Tai Chi has long been recognized for its benefits in health maintenance and therapy. Now it has improved the quality of life for an American practitioner, Angela, 82, who participated in a three week pilot class of Tai Chi for Fall Prevention at the Confucius Institute at Texas A&M University in January. In a letter to the Tai Chi teacher, Suzanne Droleskey, Assistant Vice President for International Programs at Texas A&M, she wrote:
I hadn't been to the chiropractor since beginning Tai Chi, so it has been one month. He was quite elated as he told Carrie and me that the condition of my spine has changed from the waist up. It was so flexible and relaxed as were shoulders and neck. The lower back condition had also improved. "Whatever you have been doing, keep doing it....it is giving you more flexibility and balance." That's a testimonial to Tai Chi and especially to the instructor who encouraged me to keep trying and not to look for perfection. (I'm such a perfectionist that I expect to accomplish anything I try to do "perfectly" and immediately.)
Suzanne, I am so grateful to you for being such a patient and kind instructor. Usually I am exercise -resistant, but you really inspired me as I watched you dance through the steps. It seems like dancing to me and that means I don't look at Tai Chi as exercising! How about that!!!
Angela also told a story before she completed the class. She said that her apartment complex manager saw her walking one day and cried out, “Angela, what happened to you?”. Angela was surprised and confused, and she said, “Nothing happened to me. What do you mean?” The manager replied, “You’re taller!” And, the amazing part is that Angela had worked hard to improve her stance, so she actually did appear to be a little taller. Angela was a very dedicated student who practiced every day all the things the students learned in class, so it is not surprising that she gained so many benefits.
Of course Angela is not alone. Indeed, the post-class evaluations showed that all the students who took the class had better flexibility and balance, and that they had reached personal goals they had set. The Confucius Institute at Texas A&M instituted the Tai Chi program from 2010 and since then invited Dr. Suzanne Droleskey to teach the class. Since 2003, she has learned several styles, including Yang and Chen. To teach the new class in Fall Prevention, she took a certification course that emphasized Sun style. In this pilot class she combined different styles to let students learn the foundational balance, stance, strength, and flexibility exercises. There were seven people who took the pilot class (2 men and 5 women), and they ranged in age from 82 to 58. All of them said they enrolled to gain better flexibility and/or balance. Some said that the class had been recommended to them by their children or by physicians. Because this was a pilot class, it was intentionally taught with a small number of students. However, due to the type of students this class is designed to attract (students with balance problems), future classes will also be kept small to allow the instructor to provide individual attention to the students. The CI at Texas A&M will sponsor four Tai Chi classes, including Tai Chi for Fall Prevention, from February to May.
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