Five-Week Tai Chi Program is Set to Improve Physical and Mental Health at UTC

By Cassandra Castillo, Assistant Features Editor—

Dr. Zibin Guo, U.C. Foundation Professor of Medical Anthropology, is offering virtual Tai Chi classes for any students interested in the five-week, ten-session series. 

There is a class limit of 25, but he encourages students to place their names on the waiting list for future sessions. 

“Tai Chi Chuan (TCC), a form of traditional martial arts and sports is one of the most popular and effective self-care modalities in the health culture today,” Guo said. “The practice of these slow, circular, and graceful Tai Chi movements requires coordination and synchronization of a calm but alert mind and a relaxed body. In conjunction with deep abdominal breathing, the practice of these flowing movements can offer benefits to practitioners with no negative side effects.” 

The National Center for Complementary Integrative Health (NIC) notes that, when regularly practiced, Tai Chi offers therapeutic benefits, both psychological and physical, for individuals suffering various chronic health conditions, including mental distress. 

Throughout the 10, thirty-minute sessions, participants will learn and practice the seven postures of the applied Tai Chi program. Dr. Guo expects them to apply these practices even after the session ends to further engage both physical and mental fitness.

Students believe it will help relieve some stress that has built up from focusing on school and the pandemic. Although it is a program spanning five weeks, many seem comfortable with it because of the benefits it produces and the consistency it enforces. 

Junior Pare Pene said he signed up for this program because he wanted to try something new, especially seeing that it had the potential to greatly benefit his health. 

“I am hoping it will have both positive mental and physical impacts on me,” Pene said. “I have participated in some virtual online dance classes offered at the university last semester which was fun. I think it should be fine to do online as it would be like following a youtube tutorial or something similar to that.”

Monica Cheung signed up due to the high stress of being a first-year graduate student who recently moved to Chattanooga. As a student who meditates regularly, she thought it could serve as another support for her mental health and allow her to get to know more of UTC. 

“I think the event will help me find ways to center and ground myself, even after the event is over,” Cheung said. “I also hope that it will give me a chance to get to know more students at UTC. Being at home might make it even more relaxing to partake in, while keeping the virus away. Even though it will be virtual, I think seeing the same people for five weeks straight will foster connections regardless, as long as people turn their cameras on.

“For all of the ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ fans, waterbending was actually based on Tai Chi. Maybe that will encourage you to sign up if this event happens again.” she added. 

This project is a collaborative endeavor between the Center of Student Wellbeing, the departments of the Social Cultural and Justice Studies and Psychology. They hope to hold another event like this sometime in the future. 

For those interested in participating the link can be found here.

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