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How We Have Kept Tai Chi Classes Going in the Pandemic

by Deirdre Dwyer, ATCQA Certified Tai Chi Instructor, published in July 2021

The arrival of COVID last year totally changed things for Sheri Nicholson and I at Tai Chi for Health & Wellness (TCHW) in Jacksonville, FL. Yes, canceled classes everywhere meant a huge loss, but it also catapulted me into online teaching and learning. Learning to film, edit and publish videos was a steep learning curve, but one that I enjoyed. It will continue to serve us post-COVID (samples of those videos can be viewed online at https://taichihealthandwellness.com/videos/).

In April 2020, Sheri and I decided on a program called Drive-Through Rx to provide people with a Tai Chi "pick-me-up" with videos as short as 3 minutes and going up to 20 minutes. We wanted them to feel connected and to keep moving. We also chose to video them at beautiful local places to encourage people who felt stuck at home due to COVID.


We actually found bringing Tai Chi right into people's homes became a very intimate and meaningful way of continuing to build our Tai Chi community. Unfamiliar with Zoom, we noticed that students asked more questions and engaged more than we expected because they felt comfortable in their own home space!

We love World Tai Chi Day. While so many Tai Chi schools were canceling their plans to celebrate during COVID, we celebrated with a video which we sent to Bill Douglas in April. He showcased it on his website and included it in his mass email, which thrilled us. Some others had had the same idea, and so a month later Bill Douglas planned a belated celebration online.

Sheri and I also co-hosted classes online for a regular class fee to keep students connected to each other and us. Topics included dealing with the anxiety and stress that COVID brought. With bringing Tai Chi online, we did a short video to introduce people to these online teachers.

Because of COVID and social distancing, staying at home allowed me to study online under several wonderful masters and teachers of Tai Chi. I have grown a lot in my own personal practice which has been a great joy. Another unexpected benefit of moving online was that the Living with the Principles team, an institution organizing annual Tai Chi retreat, invited us to join their team.

Contributing our talents with making flyers, videos, social media promotion, editing the website, ideas and brainstorming, etc, Sheri and I invited them to join us in our Seasonal Qi, a TCHW celebration of Tai Chi seasonally on the last Saturday every July, October, & January, leading to the end of April and World Tai Chi Day. It is a celebration we had been doing in person to bring several Tai Chi communities in Jacksonville together for quite a while. And co-incidentally it also fell right in with the beginning of the LWP's Tai Chi Retreat at the end of every January.

Needing to move the Retreat online for Jan. 2021, we spent many hours planning, upping our tech skills, and aiming to bring the Retreat global. It was a 12-hour day each day of the Retreat in order to reach Hawaii on one side, and Europe through Australia on the other. We promoted globally! When we weren't teaching, we were behind the scenes for those that were teaching to monitor the chat, let people into Zoom, as well as coordinate Social Connection times to help people get to know each other and the teachers, etc. Exhausting, but a wonderful time!! January 2022 will again be online due to the variants of COVID.

Because of Tai Chi, I feel more energized and fuller of purpose than ever. I work more closely with some Tai Chi masters and expanded my skills in ways I never dreamed I would...

 

 


 
 

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