Back to school season typically brings forth the sensation of excitement and stress. However, with the unfamiliar terrain of online courses, I’ve found myself even more high-strung than usual. The Multi-Faith Centre offers frequent classes with Mindful Moments, so I made sure to sign up for their Tai Chi and Yoga sessions to help with stress reduction. Although all events are online, I strongly believe that we need a sense of community now more than ever. I also believe that events and activities that allow us to interact with others are extremely helpful (even if this is just a virtual interaction).
Beginner Tai Chi takes place on a weekly basis on Mondays from 12:30-1:30pm. I found it helpful that the class focuses only on a few movements per week so that each position can be given a lot of attention and improved upon in one session. This made sense to me towards the end of the class, because the detail given to every movement forced you to pay attention to many parts of your body. Overall, a certain level of force and deliberateness had to be considered for every movement. I found this very stimulating because I neglect my body more these days (where I’m sitting at a desk and barely moving all day). Being hyper-aware of my body’s position was simultaneously unnerving and refreshing because I felt more grounded.
The session focused on three elements: form, feeling, and function. Form focused primarily on making sure that you were in the proper stance with the correct arm, leg, head, and hand movements. Feeling was about mental imagery and using your imagination in order to have control over your body. For example, during one exercise we imagined being up to our knees in mud. We pictured ourselves by a river, smelling the air from the stream, feeling the river’s bubbles naturally push our arms and wrists upwards. Lastly, function was used to correct the original form and to redirect force. I learned that Tai Chi is not dependent on how physically strong you are. Instead, it’s about how deliberate and strategic each movement is. Tai Chi focuses on biophysics and how movements can be made more forceful depending on their strategic location.
During the session we also focused on our breathing to help direct movements, making certain positions stronger and flow more cohesively. Especially during our difficult COVID times, deep breathing is recommended as a daily practice to help relieve stress as well. Attention to breathing was also a part of the Introduction to Yoga and Mindfulness class. I specifically enjoyed how simplistic the session was, likely because it was geared towards beginners. It was perfect for anytime of the day because it wasn’t too strenuous, focusing more on exercises that were calming rather than challenging.
I personally enjoyed both of these sessions, not only because of the additional stress caused by pandemic-related changes, but also because nearly everything is virtual now. Therefore, I often find myself constantly in my own head, with a lot of strained tension in the body from sitting behind a computer screen all day. Both Yoga and Tai Chi brought me back to my body and calmed my mind. Being kind to yourself and taking these little moments to care for your mind and body is incredibly important, and I highly recommend checking them out. The link for more of these events is listed below.