Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Want Tai Chi for More Than Exercising; It Also Helps Relax the Mind, They Say

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Want Tai Chi for More Than Exercising; It Also Helps Relax the Mind, They Say

Article excerpt

Byline: ANGELA SHOE

Anne McHale does it to empty her mind.

Glen Evans does it, well, partly because he can.

Instruction in the ancient Chinese art of tai chi is now being offered in eight-week sessions at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Riverside.

"At my age, I am open to anything and just glad I am able to be here," Evans, 89, said with a chuckle. "If I can do it, anyone can."

Fellow student McHale agreed.

"I was a heart patient four years ago, and tai chi allows me to empty my mind and body," she said. "Tai chi is a relaxing form of exercise for anyone."

The deliberate, meditative movements in tai chi are practiced as a form of exercise, with the aim to balance a person physically and mentally. It involves gently stretching the muscles and freeing the mind of stresses from the day.

"We had tai chi classes several years ago at the Cummer," said Chrys Yates, associate director of education and public programs. "We are thrilled to bring the classes back to the museum."

Wan Chen "Peter" Chang, a tai chi master who leads the classes, learned the art more than two decades ago in his native Taiwan and practices Chinese medicine and acupuncture locally. Chang, a Jacksonville resident for 16 years, has taught tai chi all over the area. A number of his former students drive from Fernandina Beach and South Georgia to the museum just to take the class with him.

The Cummer, located at 829 Riverside Ave., offers two Thursday evening classes: the 5-5:45 p.m. course is designed for seniors and individuals with limited mobility, and the 6-7:15 p.m. class is for all other participants.

Chang said tai chi is not just a class to attend once a week, but a way of life. The gentle exercise follows the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang, or the idea of keeping every aspect of life in balance, he said. When this balance is found, a person will be at peace spiritually, physically and mentally. …

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