Tai Chi Classes Help Ease Stress for Participants

Article excerpt

Byline: Janet Stoodley Daily Herald Correspondent

Patricia Palmer needed to make some changes in her life.

"I decided I couldn't bear to sit through another meeting to plan a meeting or deal with one more instance of back-biting office politics. I decided to give up life as a highly stressed executive in corporate America and do my own thing."

So she quit her job and started her own management consulting firm.

That was one of many changes Palmer made on the road to a new lifestyle.

"I have been thinking about the whole body-mind-spirit thing and connecting all of those dots in some sort of realistic way for a number of years," says the 48-year-old Rolling Meadows resident.

For Palmer, connecting all those dots led her to Tai Chi.

An ancient oriental form of self-defense originally taught by, and to, monks for protection of their monastery, Tai Chi has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

Tai Chi comes in many forms, some stressing self-defense aspects, some the religious aspects. Then there is Taoist Tai Chi, which solely emphasizes the healthful aspects of this graceful and melodic exercise.

The Taoist (pronounced DOW-ist) Tai Chi Society Illinois was founded 6 years ago and is part of a large international organization. All the instructors are volunteers.

"They teach from the heart," says society vice president and Tai Chi instructor, Timothy S. Brady. He describes Tai Chi as "a slow flowing movement, like a dance." A complete "set" contains 108 individual moves.

It is through proper execution of these moves, and the concentration required to complete the set, that the body is strengthened, flexibility is improved and stress is eased.

Palmer says, "With the 108 movements to concentrate on, that's one of the things I go there to do - to be in a completely different frame of mind and very focused on something that's not about the business day."

The society holds classes in Northbrook and Palatine for beginning and continuing students. …