Meditation in motion taught at Canadian Tai Chi Academy

Dave
Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Tai chi promotes a connection between body and mind, and has many health benefits as well.

"It's amazing what it's done for me," said Rick Toupin, one of the tai chi instructors at the Canadian Tai Chi Academy on Spring Street in Amherst.

Toupin is 63-years-old. He used to be in the military and then worked as an addictions counselor at Cumberland Health before retiring.

"I hurt my back in the military I had numbness in my right thigh," said Toupin. "I had pain medication for my back and now I don't use medication. I have no more pain and the feeling is back in my leg."

He also had arthritis in his hands but that has gone away as well.

"There are basic fundamentals you can do that helps blood flow to the fingers," he said.

His wife Brenda has been practicing tai chi for about three years.

"I couldn't lift my left shoulder. I went to physiotherapy and acupuncture but it didn't help," said Brenda. "After six months of tai chi I realized I could lift my arm.

She says tai chi is relaxing.

"And we have a really fun and sociable group."

Wednesday night's group had about 20 members, including Shirley Young, who is 81-years-old.

She's been practicing tai chi for '15 or 20-years.'

"It's beneficial to anybody, young or old," said Young. "I eat well and keep active and I don't have any health problems."

Young said she doesn't like strenuous exercise.

"Tai chi is a good exercise. It's more relaxing than strenuous."

Unlike most exercises, tai chi uses slow, deliberate movements that are easy on the joints.

Practitioners of tai chi learn 108 movements.

"It takes about one year to learn the 108 moves but you can refine them forever," said Young.

Wednesday night classes are from 7:30 to 9 p.m., and most of the people attending are beginners.

"We teach beginners for the first hour and teach more advanced movements in the last half hour," said Toupin.

They also have practice sessions Tuesday's from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

"On Tuesday's we do 108 moves in three sets, so we do 324 moves," he said.

The tai chi sessions in Amherst are at the Amherst Shotokan Karate Academy at 100 Spring Street.

"We Love this facility," said Toupin. "Dave and Janice Pyke teach karate here and they have been very helpful and very accommodating."

Sessions are also held at the Port Greville Fire Hall.

"Classes in Port Greville are on Tuesday's from 7 to 9 p.m., until Christmas and then we're back to Monday nights from 7 to 9 p.m."

The two other tai chi instructors are Rod Morris and Paul Clark, both of Parrsboro.

Morris has practiced Tai Chi for 17 years and Clark for 23 years.

For more information drop in to one of the classes or contact Rod Morris at 902-254-3490 or at cumberland@candiantaichiacademy.org.

Organizations: Canadian Tai Chi Academy, Cumberland Health, Amherst Shotokan Karate Academy Tai Chi

Geographic location: AMHERST, Port Greville, Parrsboro

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