Beginner T’ai Chi class starts March 15 |

Beginner T’ai Chi class starts March 15

by Jo Rafferty

At age 67, Ginny Cardenas is always told she looks well younger than her age, and she attributes it to her 17 1/2 years of T’ai Chi training.

Cardenas, an instructor at O2 Wellness, believes in the powers of T’ai Chi so much, that she is starting a new class in order to get others interested in the ancient Chinese exercise.

“People benefit tremendously,” said Cardenas. “It can be all kinds of benefits – physical … sometimes it’s mental. People tell me that their mind is clearer. And definitely relaxation. Just a sense of peace and general well-being. Balance is also another area people report it helps.”

The roots go back to the Taoist monks, according to Cardenas. It’s related to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. In gentle, flowing movements, students follow their teacher in unison.

“People enjoy doing it. It’s not competitive. It’s not something you have to push yourself in. Pain is no gain,” said Cardenas. “It’s very gentle. It’s very safe for anyone in all physical conditions.

“It’s not only good for you, mentally and physically, but it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful to watch people do T’ai Chi and you feel beautiful while you’re doing it.”

Cardenas began her T’ai Chi training in 1989 in Whittier, Calif. She continued faithfully, noticing how good it made her feel, especially during stressful times.

“I attribute my health, state of mind, overall sense of well-being and youthfulness to T’ai Chi,” said Cardenas. “Everyone wants to be healthy, and everyone wants to be happy, and they go together. Chinese believe mental health follows physical health.

“It’s common sense, if you’re depressed or upset or anxious, any physical activity can help you get through it. Exercises like this put you in control in a natural, safe way. I think it’s very empowering for people to know that they have that option.”

When Cardenas moved to Carson Valley in 2001, she decided to start teaching rather than find a new teacher.

“I loved (T’ai Chi) from the first lesson I had, but I never thought I would teach,” she said. “My teacher told me I should teach. It’s sort of passed on that way.”

Her class for new students will begin March 15, from 6-7 p.m. on Thursdays. Instruction will be in the Eight Treasures Qigong and Yang style T’ai Chi Ch’uan short form. The cost is $50 for six weeks. O2 Wellness is located in the Anker Building at 1507 Highway 395 in Gardnerville. To register, call 720-3659.

Additional benefits from practicing T’ai Chi, according to Cardenas, is increased concentration, awareness and the ability to learn, improved immune function and increased longevity, lowered high blood pressure, as well as increased flexibility, coordination and balance.

“It allows you to slow down,” said Cardenas. “I think people can benefit so enormously by this.”