Tai Chi Cape Breton celebrates 108 days of live broadcasts

MABOU: A local group has reached an impressive on-line milestone.

Since March, Michelle Greenwell, of Tai Chi Cape Breton, has been leading daily live broadcasts, and on July 1, she reached her goal of 108 on-line sessions.

“I thought we were doing a couple of weeks, I didn’t realize it was going to be months,” Greenwell told The Reporter. “It’s 108, and I’m choosing to finish at 108 because the Tai Chi set has 108 moves in it.”

Greenwell said she started feeling fatigued by the 75-day mark, then by the 100th day, she realized that 108 was the perfect end point.

Michelle Greenwell

She pointed to the immune-boosting properties of Tai Chi as perfect in the midst of a stressful and dangerous time.

“It’s so easy,” Greenwell noted. “As we don’t have another way to combat illness, the only we can is to boost the immune system. Just by deep breathing and spending a few minutes just centering yourself and focusing, you have the opportunity to calm the whole system down.”

Since she was already doing Tai Chi sessions almost seven days a week, Greenwell said she was prepared for the daily slough which offered even causal practitioners some helpful tips, and the chance to practice on their own.

Pictured is the Tai Chi Cape Breton group from Port Hawkesbury at the Civic Centre back in 2013.

Tai Chi Cape Breton started nine years ago and now has groups in Port Hawkesbury, Judique, Mabou, and Belle Cote. Each group has between 12 and 20 members, depending on the time of year, with most belonging to the group from nine to five years.

“We’ve attracted people from all over the island, plus across the Causeway,” Greenwell noted.

Greenwell started with Tai Chi while she was running her dance studio and was instructing more than 300 students. Before long, she was getting up early on Saturday to practice.

“My body was broken and I couldn’t walk anymore; it was too painful on my feet to even walk, and it was just stress,” she recalled. “Then the instructor, who was teaching Tai Chi in my space, asked me if I was broken enough yet to come to Tai Chi. I flippantly said, ‘okay, I’ll do this Tai Chi thing.’ And I found relief. My foot started to feel better, my frozen back started to feel better. I started to calm a bit.”

The Belle Cote group performed a fan dance in honour of the Chinese New Year.

In each episode, Greenwell ran through one set of movement sequences like Sabre, Lokhup, or Tai Chi.

“I alternated because my students could do all three so I was trying to cater to that part,” she noted. “That allows for the body to calm down and just get into a flow. And for a lot of people, they never move enough. They might be sitting at their desk, or now you’re isolated in your house so watched more TV. It was a way for them to just be moving and important to shoulder seems and hip seems because that feeds the brain and then that links up the whole body.”

The next priority for Greenwell on the Web casts was to isolate movements and discuss those movements.

“I might talk about how you can build energy, how can you store energy, how you use the breath to help you store more energy, and that energy can be used later,” she explained. “What this does is calms the whole system down, allows all of the energy pathways to open up and flow the way they’re supposed to, so it balances everything out, then you actually store energy.”

Greenwell said many people go to caffeine or chocolate to destress or get an energy boost, and she says Tai Chi is a way to do that naturally.

She added that Tai Chi is a simple practice that allows people to shut-off their brains and be part of a group, even if it is on Zoom or Facebook.

“That’s the other piece,” Greenwell added. “There’s this collective energy that happens when you meet.”

The videos are now available on Greenwell’s Web site at: www.dancedebut.com, as well as YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEPG1vTQ71ZSEuM2GgmgaDw.