Tai chi and qi gong practitioners gathered at Recreational Park in East Asheville on April 25, for World Tai Chi Day. Several participants were asked to demonstrate a pose that answers this question: “How has the practice of qigong or tai chi changed your life?” Most mentioned improvement in balance as well as stress reduction.
Millions of people around the world gather to practice these mind-body movement forms on the last Saturday in April every year. This year’s event was hosted by Liz Ridley of Little Dragon School (front left) and Larry Cammarata (front right).
“When I do qigong everyday” says Diane Beck, “I find that my day begins and ends balanced. The practice helps me to flow like a river.”
Valerie Hoh loves that she can take her tai chi practice with her when she travels. “I do it at beaches, national parks, anywhere.” Here, Hoh demonstrates “The Wave” a posture she initially struggled with because the arms and legs are moving simultaneously. “Now, after three years, my balance is so much better.”
Norris Orbach has been practicing tai chi for the last seven years. For the first four of those years, he was unable to do the posture photographed here, entitled “Golden Cock Stands on One Leg.” “Now at least there are times that I can,” he says lightheartedly. “It’s slowed me down a lot and improved my cognitive abilities.”
“Qigong helps me get in touch with my spiritual side” says Sandy Borelli. Her favorite posture happens to be a transition pose, during which the energy of the last posture is integrated to prepare oneself for the next movement. “My hands get hot and I can literally feel the energy moving all the way down my body,” she notes.
Linda Cammarata says that qigong has brought her to “a deeper sense of being present” in her body because “the practice is slow, deep, calm and continuous.” Here she demonstrates “Separating Earth and Sky” pose.
Liz Ridley, director of the Little Dragon School, says “Tai Chi has expanded me, it’s expanded my life, my consciousness, my community, and my idea of what physical exercise is all about.”
“Tai Chi helps you ground yourself as you cultivate energy through your meridians. It’s like a deep internal massage” says Mickey Hill (pictured right). Hill demonstrates “playing the lute” pose with Dennis Hagarty (pictured left).
“Stability, relaxation and focus,” says Larry Cammarata as he demonstrates “Drawing the Bow to Shoot the Arrow” pose. “The practice has given me a deep body awareness and taught me how to harmonize myself with others by staying grounded and soft at the same time.”
Tai Chi and Qigong practitioners around Asheville gathered at Recreation Park in East Asheville on Saturday, April 25, for World Tai Chi Day.
About Emily Nichols
Emily Nichols is a writer and photographer for the Mountain Xpress. She enjoys writing about wellness and spirituality in WNC.
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