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LifeStyle with Tai Chi and Qigong >> Tai Chi Qigong for Daily Life

Our Group Practice of Tai Chi and Qigong During the Pandemic

by Sandy Brewer, ATCQA Certified Tai Chi Instructor, published in May 2021

"No one is more determined to stay healthy and stay active than Tai Ji Players."

This was a discovery made by Graham and Donna Hunter and Sandy Brewer, as COVID-19 closed the Senior Center in Blaine, WA, where their classes met. When the announcement was made that the Center would close, Tai Ji players, all "Seniors," expressed a desire to keep meeting outdoors. It was late March of 2020, a time with fairly mild temperatures up here on the border with Canada. We agreed to give it a try, staying masked, and 6 feet or more apart.

We tried a small park one week, then the basketball court outside the Senior Center, which shares space with the local Boys and Girls club. Power for music was possible using an extension cord and an outside receptacle. At first, we met on Monday mornings, but the consensus was that people wanted more, and we eventually met on the mornings of Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

When traffic noise from nearby streets became a problem, it was suggested the group move to the State Park at the International Peace Arch, right on the Canadian Border. Local law enforcement seemed to have no problem with the group as they were staying far apart, and avoiding unmasked conversations, as well.

Moving to the Peace Arch, we moved onto grass, and were often observed by people from both countries, as the International Peace Arch Park is available to Canadian Citizens as well as Americans. To avoid damage to the grass in the park, we moved around a bit. A number of us who play Tai Ji Straight Sword 32 and 42 routines began to meet half an hour before our Tai Ji segment, and others who wished to learn began joining us.

As the rains came, and the grass became soggy, we have been allowed to move to a section of the parking lot, which would not preclude patrons of the park from enjoying the facility. We found that, by keeping a standard program, our members were comfortable showing up and that they had social interaction that would keep their minds healthy as well, while still maintaining social distance.

We do one half hour sword, followed by a warm-up routine for those who only play Tai Ji and Qigong. Ba Duan Jin Qigong, 8 form Yang Style Tai Ji, Ma Wang Dui Dao Yin Shu Qigong, and 16 Form Yang Style Tai Ji follow. Those wishing a bit more will stay most mornings to join us in Yang Style 24 Short Form.

Our group is always open to those who want to join and learn by doing, as long as they keep at least six feet or more from the next person on all sides and are masked when otherwise interacting with individuals. In over a year's time, we have only failed to meet due to cold or other weather a few times. Almost all of our members have been able to be vaccinated. Consensus of the group is that, when the Center reopens, we will continue to meet on at least two days in the park, in the open air. Meantime, none of our group has fallen ill of COVID; if anything, our health is as good or better than when our outdoor play started.

We've averaged between 10 and 13 players, and, I believe, we are one of the few groups in the US playing consistently outdoors during the pandemic - certainly, we are the group most north and west in the United States.




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