By Phyllis Galowitz

It’s too cold for my usual walk along Route 28. I miss the sounds of Bryant’s Brook, the birds keeping time with my steps and friendly neighbors waving as they pass me in their cars. I’m too lazy to go swimming at the Recreation Center. It means taking another shower and washing my hair. T’ai Chi is the perfect indoor (or outdoor, weather permitting!) exercise for this time of year and I love it. It’s gentle on my bones. It’s beautiful to see a whole group of people moving together like soft waves in the sea.

T’ai Chi is a Chinese system of exercise for balancing the mind and body, and the more I do it the more my body seems to flow from one movement to the next. I have taken the classes several times, never feeling any pressure on any bones or muscles. Part of that is due to Mitzi Sackett, the instructor, who goes over every part of each movement again and again, until it becomes automatic. She also explains how moving in a particular way strengthens those  muscles and increases balance.

Some of the people in the class started out by doing the exercises while sitting in a chair, which is encouraged if they feel insecure or afraid of falling. Now, halfway through the sixteen classes, it’s obvious how everyone has improved, is able to stand for longer periods, and some for the whole time.

Mitzi repeats key phrases until they have become part of me and I hear her voice as I’m going through my day saying, “Tuck your tailbone under. Pull your shoulders back and your chin in.” It has helped me to have better posture, putting less strain on my back.

I highly recommend this form of exercise, especially to anyone who has a fear of falling or back problems. It will give you confidence and make you feel relaxed as you go through your busy day.

The classes are provided by the Delaware County Office for the Aging and if you are 60 years of age or older, a resident of the County, and commit to attending 16 classes, the series is free! (You must register by calling 607-832-5742 for the next series.)~