For more than 15 years, Water Song Tai Chi has been helping Marion residents improve their health. Tai Chi, also spelled TaiJi, is an ancient Chinese martial art that helps develop strength, flexibility, and balance.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi may include decreased stress, anxiety, and depression, improved mood, improved aerobic capacity, increased energy and stamina, improved flexibility, balance, and agility, and improved muscle strength and definition.
Anyone can enjoy and gain benefits from tai chi, regardless of physical condition or age. Some focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi, while others focus on the health benefits. In the years of classes in Marion, there have been success stories including regained mobility and range of motion after a stroke, improved balance for people with neurological disorders, and a part of a general health initiative and weight loss program.
Current student Steve Mygrant said, “I started Tai Chi for the exercise, but an unanticipated benefit that I have found is the meditative and stress reduction aspects. After class, I find myself more relaxed and at peace with the world.”
Water Song Tai Chi has three teachers: Carol Nelson and the husband-and-wife team Steve and Marlene Renick. They donate their time as teachers, with nominal fees covering expenses.
Marlene recounts that she started tai chi as part of her rehabilitation program after a serious illness.
“I have seen people regain strength, mobility, and better overall health in my 13 years of teaching,” said Marlene. “One of our students had multiple sclerosis, had given up and ordered a wheelchair. She tried a class or two and felt she had improved her balance. After a few months, she regained a significant level of mobility, strength, and confidence. She continued with us for several years until she moved out of the area.”
Classes provide a time for people to get together to practice. While tai chi can be practiced in private, many benefits come from working together in a group, with mindful movement in unison. Most instruction for new students is provided on a one-on-one basis.
“This helps us make sure that people are doing the tai chi moves in a safe way,” said Nelson.
Because the movements are all in slow motion, stress on the body is reduced while providing many of the health benefits of a physical workout.
Karen Chipman, a respiratory therapist, started classes in October 2021.
“I’ve always wanted to do tai chi and am so glad that I found this class. At the end of a long day at work, some nights I drag myself to class,” Chipman said of her experience. “By the end of class, I feel relaxed and energized. I know it will take time to learn all of the moves and the sequence of the form, but the people are great and the teachers are very patient.”
Nelson also referenced the martial arts aspects of tai chi.
“While we emphasize the health and wellness side of tai chi, we also remain very aware of the martial art application of every move,” said Nelson. “Sometimes, if you do not know the original martial art application for the move, you cannot do it correctly. And for some people, knowing the martial arts side of tai chi makes it more interesting.”
Classes are offered on the third floor of the RHAM building at 205 West Center Street Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m., and at the Senior Center, Friday afternoons at 12:30 p.m. Classes are 90 minutes long. Students are encouraged to do what they feel comfortable with. The cost is $5 per class or $25 per month. There is no cost for the classes at the Senior Center. For more information contact Carol Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-360-6931 or Steve Renick email@example.com or 419- 560-4451.