Tribune Print Share Text

Meditation in motion

Highland Springs residents discover health benefits of tai chi

Created date

June 19th, 2012

Hong Kong native Audrey Cheang was living in Toronto, Canada, when she met tai chi Master Moy Lin-shin more than 30 years ago. Lin-shin, founder of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society (, introduced Audrey to tai chi at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto. There are many forms of tai chi, says Audrey. But Master Moy Lin-shin emphasized stretching and graceful movements. The ancient Chinese originally developed tai chi for self-defense. Over time, it has evolved into many variations, some focusing more on martial arts, others on health maintenance. All styles of tai chi combine a series of positions into continuous movement. Tai chi also highlights the importance of inner awareness through breathing and concentration. There are many health benefits that come from practicing tai chi, says Audrey. Improved balance, circulation, and digestion are just a few of them.

New chapter in life

In 2007, Audrey moved from Toronto toHighland Springs, an Erickson Living community in North Dallas, to be closer to her daughter. Every morning, she practices tai chi in her apartment home. She also lends her expertise to others in the community. Twice a week, she teaches a tai chi class in the Hillcrest Clubhouse. One of the great things about tai chi is that it doesn t require any special equipment or clothing, says Audrey. All the residents have to do is show up. We re fortunate to have Audrey teaching tai chi at Highland Springs, says Wellness Coordinator Sara Bartolone. It s motivating for other residents who might be hesitant to try tai chi. When they see Audrey doing it, they realize they can do it too. With a youthful appearance that belies her age she ll be 90 in August Audrey credits tai chi with her longevity and good health.

Low-impact exercise

Tom Clark has a long history as an athlete. He ran track and played football and basketball in high school and continued his basketball career through junior college. But when Tom and his wife Patricia moved to Highland Springs, he was looking for a slower, more deliberate type of exercise. Tai chi fit the bill. Tai chi works every part of the body, inside and out, says Tom, who has been attending Audrey s class for the past two years. It helps with balance and coordination, and it takes concentration to learn the various forms. Each class begins with gentle stretching movements as participants move through the various forms. With quiet instructions like white stork cools wings or tiger to mountain, Audrey guides her pupils from one form to the next. During the repetitions, the only sound in the room is deep breathing as a meditative calm fills the space. The appeal of the class stretches across gender lines; men and women number equally among Audrey s students. Each session concludes with a set as participants move through their entire tai chi routine, seamlessly transitioning from one form to the next. It takes practice to learn it all, says Tom. But I m getting there.