Tai Chi class slated for Greenville

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Once upon a time, she taught aerobics. But these days, Cynthia Dahlstrom is focusing on a different kind of exercise, one that is kinder and gentler to the body, mind, and spirit.

Dahlstrom, a local painter, clay artist and teacher, has been studying the ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi at the Montgomery Taoist Tai Chi Center. She is excited about a beginners' class coming to the Camellia

City later this month.

Dahlstrom believes Tai Chi can be a boon to those who want an exercise alternative.

&#8220I tried yoga, and that didn't work for me. Then a fellow artist and dear friend of mine suggested Tai Chi,” she explained.

&#8220He was suffering from a terminal illness, and yet I saw him get out of bed and do these phenomenal moves. He was in a great deal of pain, yet he seemed so serene. He said the Tai Chi took him out of himself.”

Dahlstrom was so impressed, she starting looking for opportunities to learn more.

&#8220I signed up for the Montgomery program. I've finished up my beginning classes, and I have to say I am sold on it,” Dahlstrom said.

&#8220It's really like learning a new language - once you do, you really feel like you have accomplished something.”

Taoist Tai Chi is touted by the Taoist Tai Chi Society as a &#8220gentle exercise with low-impact moves that improves balance and helps prevent falls. It enhances circulation, improves alignment and elasticity of the spine and joints, and helps maintain muscle mass and strong bones.”

One of the things Dahlstrom loves about Tai Chi is the lack of competitiveness.

&#8220In a regular exercise class, you wonder if you look OK, and compare yourself to everybody else. That in itself is stressful,” she said.

&#8220In Tai Chi you are so focused on learning the movements, you don't care or worry about what everyone else is doing, or what they look like.”

She also believes she has already reaped health benefits from taking the classes.

&#8220The other day I was getting up out of an armchair. Normally, I would push up with my forearms, but I just stood straight up without a problem. I was like, ‘Wow. My balance really has improved.' I also seem to be sleeping better, a real plus.”

Dahlstrom said the Tai Chi classes are ideal for anyone who wants to get stronger without getting stressed out.

&#8220This is great exercise but it is not strenuous; it doesn't beat you up. It does slowly and steadily work for you. It's funny - I knew I wanted something I could integrate into my lifestyles. I just didn't know I would become such an advocate for it!” Dahlstrom said with a smile.

Toaist Tai Chi was developed by Master Moy Lin Shin, a Toaist Monk who wanted to help people improve and maintain their health.

The program doesn't require over-exertion, but as a student progresses, heart rate increases to aerobic exercise levels. Tai Chi students learn a series of specific movements, totaling 108 in all, by the time they complete an introductory class.

Tai Chi has been described as a way to &#8220tame the heart and heal the body.”

&#8220The instructors are all volunteers who are donating their time to this. They really care about the students. You meet some great people and it's just a safe, serene place to be,” Dahlstrom said.

Now, she is looking for a group of local folks who want to learn this special art with her.

&#8220If we can get just 10 people, they will gladly come to town and teach us,” Dahlstrom said.

Greenville class dates are slated for Sunday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., beginning May 20 and running through August 26.

The class will meet at the fellowship hall of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church located at 210 Church St.

The introductory cost will be $120 for adults and $80 for seniors, which includes registration and the entire series of classes covering the 108 moves.

&#8220You can register at the first class; just come ten minutes early and dress comfortably - something you'd wear to the park is perfect,” Dahlstrom said.

For further information, contact Cynthia Dahlstrom at 382-9834, the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA at 334-832-1907, or go to wwwtaoist.org.