Celebrating World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day

Members of Tai Chi Cape Breton strike the “White Stork Spreads his Wings” pose.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Tai Chi Cape Breton celebrated its eighth year with a special event at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Center Dance Studio on Saturday, April 27th. 

Tai Chi practitioners gathered from all over Cape Breton Island to celebrate this special day with the 108 Moving Meditation, the Seated Form, Lok Hup Ba Fa, and the Sabre Set. With a break for chatting and sharing, the group discussed some of the latest research identifying how Tai Chi works and what the practice of Tai Chi can do for the health of the body. 

The day began with a set to get the whole-body movement empowering all the tissue in the body and increasing communication systems for flow of energy. The 108 moves are part of a set brought to Canada by Master Moy Lin Shin in the 1970s. With a lineage that goes back thousands of years, this form can be seen in parks on a beautiful day in many city centers. 

For Tai Chi Cape Breton, there are five sessions a week that share the techniques – these are in Port Hawkesbury, Judique, Mabou, Inverness and Belle Cote, and beginners are welcome at any time. The seated form was shared and supported some of the students who were unable to stand for an extended period of time, and for those students who needed to better identify how to move the body efficiently and with ease.

Michelle Greenwell, the volunteer instructor for the group, has almost 25 years experience with the form, and is passionate about how to move the body for better health and vitality. Using Tai Chi as one method to assist her own health recovery from a devastating injury, Greenwell has personal experience and dedication to the form that continues to provide her with an abundance of energy daily, as well as pain free movement throughout her regular activities. 

She explored the Tai Chi walk to open up the joints in the toes, ground the body, open the hips, release tension, and to stimulate the bottom of the foot to increase energy throughout the body. She also shared some simple patterns to practice for optimizing the five principals of Tai Chi: movement is equal and opposite, square the hip in the movement, create a length in the spine from head to heel, keep the knees behind the toes when bending, and spiral the feet to a 45 degree angle to create a strength of movement through all the tissue.

Yvonne Waines will be visiting the area with her husband Doug at the end of August for workshops. The Waines are from the West Kelowna Club.

Together the group performed two sets of the 108 Moving Meditation, a Sabre Set, and a Lok Hup set (which introduces movement to support the organs and the internal systems of the body).

Earlier this month, Greenwell created a 21 Day Challenge on Facebook, and introduced many ideas of how Tai Chi can work for people in their every day activities.  These ideas came be found on Qi YINtegration or on her website at www.dancedebut.com.  Just look for the 21 Day Challenge videos. 

The special day celebrated this week meant that the group was sharing Tai Chi with thousands of people around the world at the same time, as well as contributing to Canada’s involvement as one of 70 countries around the world participating in the event. 

“Tai Chi is a system that explores movement in a very specific and magical way. What I mean by this is that whole-body movement that spirals and works through figure eight patterns creates a synergy in the body to link up the whole body,” she said.

Greenwell has been researching Tai Chi as part of her studies in Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  Just completing her Master’s of Science degree with movement as her specialty, she is now pursing a doctorate to better understand how she can help her students and the general population understand how they can be empowered through their own self-care knowledge. 

“By just taking a few minutes a day to add a simple exercise, or to listen to the complaint the body is expressing and finding support for that complaint, is a step towards health and wellness. Our bodies signal us, and it is up to us to respond and support it. Tai Chi is simple and complex at the same time. Such a fun and interesting way to bring a synergy to the systems and to create movement that has strength, flexibility and vitality all rolled into it.”

Tai Chi Cape Breton group would love to expand its membership. Greenwell can be reached at info@dancedebut.com or 902-945-2967 and she offers a free introduction class. For those opting to continue, the cost is $45 for four months. All ages, abilities and mobility are welcome. 

The classes are continuous throughout the year:  Belle Cote Community Hall (Mondays 10 a.m. – noon; Fridays 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.); Judique Community Hall (Tuesdays 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.); Dalbrae Academy’s Yoga Room (Thursdays 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.); Inverary Manor in Inverness (Fridays 1 p.m. – 2 p.m., September to May); and the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre’s Dance Studio (Saturdays 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.)