Do you love your joints? (7 photos)Saturday, September 08, 2012 by: Carol Martin
The health benefits of Tai Chi cannot be understated and members of Sault Ste. Marie's Fung Loy Kok (FLK) Taoist Tai Chi Society can both attest to that and demonstrate it.
Like many others who passed through the Sears Court in Station Mall last weekend, SooToday.com wondered what all those people in bright coloured T-shirts were doing in the light from the skylights overhead.
They were members of the local Tai Chi Society demonstrating their art and it wasn't just the light from the sun glowing in the Sears Court.
People like Barbara Patriquin, the location leader for the Sault Ste. Marie branch of the FLK Taoist Tai Chi Society, were glowing with inner health, balance and calmness.
The local branch is opening its doors to everyone on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
It will give Saultites an opportunity to observe the movements, talk to the members and get more information about the benefits of membership in the society.
Benefits like the opportunity to join practices in any FLK Taoist Tai Chi Society branch anywhere in the world.
"With your membership comes a card and all you have to do is present that card in any branch you visit and you can join in the classes while you are there," said Patriquin.
There are presently branches in more than 500 locations across 27 countries and those numbers continue to grow steadily.
The society founder, Master Moy Lin-Shin, made it his life's work to share the many benefits of Taoist Tai Chi with anyone who wanted to learn the martial art.
In earlier times in China and Hong Kong, the rituals, ceremonies, and dual cultivation techniques that came together to give the martial art of Tai Chi its structure were generally shared only among members of the priesthood or monastic practitioners.
"The founder of the Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism, Master Moy Lin -Shin, devoted decades of his life to develop these arts of cultivating body, heart and mind to make them accessible and beneficial to everyone, regardless of their physical condition," says the international FLK Taoist Tai Chi website.
It's based on volunteerism and community service, said Patriquin.
"Since all our instructors are volunteers, membership fees are used to pay operating costs such as advertising and rent," she said. "All our instructors are accredited volunteers who have been approved to instruct by the National Instruction Coordination Committee (NICC) of Canada, none of them are paid for teaching, and all of them attend regular training workshops and re-accred annually."
"When one branch has paid it's mortgage and expenses, if there is money left over, it's used to assist other, smaller groups," she added. "To help them grow."
Members of each branch work together to maintain and care for the building(s) used by the branch and they also meet for social gatherings and to engage in community service as well as awareness-raising of the society.
Everyone has something to contribute and is relied upon for those contributions, Patriquin said.
The Sault branch is accessible to people with special mobility needs, including wheelchairs and other mobility aids for good reason.
More than a few people who have come through the doors at 120 Cunningham Road, across the street from the new F. H. Clergue French Immersion Public School on Weldon Avenue, have gone out the doors with considerably better over-all health, improved mobility, less pain and less ill-effects from stress.
Health that comes gently from the inside out.
"According to Taoist teachings body and mind cannot be separated.
"Each step in the training is intended to help the mind return to stillness, clarity and wisdom, and the body to a balanced, relaxed and healthy state.
"The health benefits include: improved circulation, balance and posture; increased strength and flexibility; and reduced stress," says the international website. "With regular practise, the Taoist Tai Chi™ internal art of taijiquan reaches deep inside the body to benefit the entire physiology including the tendons, joints, spine, connective tissue and internal organs. It restores the calmness and peace of mind that is often lost through the desires and anxieties of daily life.
"Although not a substitute for proper medical treatment, the taijiquan that we offer can help to improve the health and quality of life for people dealing health conditions such as poor circulation, high blood pressure, arthritis, back pain, joint immobility, respiratory problems, digestive disorders, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and many others."
For those with significant health challenges, the Health Recovery classes are offered, said Patriquin.
The movements can be adapted for pretty much anyone, she said.
That means people can do them sitting down or in a wheelchair or they can be adapted for people with lmited or no use of one arm or even most of one side of their bodies, such as might occur after a stroke or brain injury, for example.
The Health Recovery Classes also progress more slowly through the 108 movements that make up a set so that participants with memory or coordination challenges can retain the movements and enjoy the health benefits cultivated by those movements.
Membership fees are set by the association in each country or region and membership entitles members to attend as many available classes as they like at their home branch or on their travels.
The beginner classes usually take place twice a week with each class lasting about 1 and a half hours.
It generally takes about three months to learn to properly execute all 108 movements in the first form
The Sault Ste. Marie branch has a few other ideas on this, though.
It's planning to offer a combined class that will include instruction for beginners for the first hour, a combined class with those continuing their studies for a half hour and an hour for the continuing class participants, through which the beginners can stay to watch.
"This will help demonstrate to the beginners that there is more to do after they learn the movements," said Patriqin. "It also offers the continuing class participants a chance to practice and refine the movements in the set."
The Sault branch is also considering an fast-track class so people with busy schedules and a capacity to learn the movements more quickly can also participate.
This could involve an intensive weekend of practice and instruction but the group is still considering its options for class durations and frequency and trying to guage interest in such a program.
"It gives the younger people who, perhaps, wouldn't have time to attend classes every week over six weeks a chance to learn the movements," she said. "It also gives people who may have taken a class five or 10 years ago but don't feel confident enough to jump into a continuing class a chance to refresh their memory."
To register for classes or to learn more about it drop in at the home of the FLK Taoist Tai Chi Society of Sault Ste. Marie today between 10 a.m. and 12 noon.