Tai Chi on the Beach
- story by Christina Richardson
It is the first Wednesday in May and I am at the beach at sunset with my friends. There is a soft breeze, waves are gently lapping the shore. Lael Butler is ready to start. Soon we are moving together in a slow motion choreography called Tai Chi. We are at one with ourselves shedding stress, anxiety and tension.
Lael Butler is an environmental scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency. She is also a master trained Tai Chi instructor. In 2006 Lael felt compelled to move back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Atlanta.
Mind, Body, Spirit
“For me Tai Chi is my way to keep connection with my community and to help people manage and reduce stress”, Lael said. “There are usually 7-10 at practice, both men and women. I teach Yang style which is a 24 form of 24 named positions that are moved through in order. Tai Chi is about breathing, balance and moving.”
There are many health benefits to Tai Chi. Before detailing them, here are two short videos demonstrating the 24 forms.
One well known form of Qigong is Kung Fu. Both Tai Chi and Kung Fu come from Taoist philosophy and both are used for self-defense or simply for development of spiritual and physical growth. Tai Chi involves slow, graceful movements that mimic the flow of energy through the body, while Kung Fu is quick and sharp.
Evidence suggests that Tai Chi not only reduces stress through the focus on movement and breathing. The National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health finds improvement in balance and stability, help in reducing chronic pain, range of motion, improving mood, and overall feelings of well-being.
Tai Chi is practiced just about everywhere. In 1999, World Tai Chi Day began in Kansas City. Now there are events in hundreds of cities in 80 + countries.
At this time of year Lael is holding practice at the Pass Christian Library every other Wednesday. Call them for her schedule. Or… come join us the first Wednesday in May at the beach at the end of Washington Street. There is no charge.