In the morning, residents in the neighborhood use the park for exercising purpose. There are individuals jogging, stretching, and walking. They are there to utilize this local park to enjoy better health. For example, Mr. Lee, one of the residents in the neighborhood, was stretching near a bench. He said he continues to routinely exercise in this park every morning because it is “good for the heart”. Besides individual exercises, there is a group of people on the basketball court that practices Tai Chi every morning.
The people leading the Tai Chi group in the park are retired Taiwanese. Every morning, the group forms itself on the basketball court and conducts about five rounds of Tai Chi from 7:40am to 8:30am. According to one of the participants in the Tai Chi group, the group usually consists of 10 people, including Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Caucasians. They welcome any ethnicity to join as long as they share the passion to learn and to practice Tai Chi.
According to one of the participants, Master Wei, an immigrant from Taiwan, originally formed this Tai Chi group in Bowne Park. At first, he started practicing Tai Chi individually in the park as a way to maintain his health. The group began to come together as he encouraged others to join him to learn Tai Chi to enhance their health conditions. Master Wei is now in Taiwan to enjoy his life at the age of 80. He left the group with sufficient skills in Tai Chi to practice every morning in the park.
The group practices the 37 Posture Form of Tai Chi. A form is a collection of Tai Chi moves and postures that creates a sequence. 1 The 37 Posture Form is created by Professor Cheng Man-Ching as a shortened version of the 108 long form to make Tai Chi easier to learn while maintaining the essence of the original form. 2
Besides conveniency, they choose to practice Tai Chi in Bowne park, specifically in the morning, because Tai Chi works well with fresh air. Mrs. Wei, one of the Taiwanese participants, said that Tai Chi is perfect for them because it is not an intense exercise, yet one can sweat from it. She also said that although Tai Chi is a slow exercise, when one gets to a certain point, he can feel the qi from within and starts sweating. Qi is an energy force that flows through the body and Tai Chi is to unblock the energy to encourage the proper flow of qi. 3
Another aspect that fascinates the group is the principles that Tai Chi teaches them. One of the principles is the importance of concentration. Mrs. Wei described Tai Chi as a training of one’s concentration as it is important to finish the whole form and have a continuous flow of qi. One can easily mess up and not get the full benefit out of Tai Chi if he or she cannot concentrate on his breathing, flow of qi, and postures. Mrs. Wei said that another principle Tai Chi promotes to its participants is a concept called Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposing elements in the universe that needs to be kept in balance in order for harmony to occur. Tai Chi is to promote this balance of Yin and Yang, which teaches its participants truths about harmony and balance in life.
The group unanimously agreed that they are persistent in coming to the park every morning to practice Tai Chi because of the health benefits that it brings. According to Harvard Health Publication, practicing Tai Chi can enhance the following qualities :
- Muscle Strength
- Aerobic Conditioning
To read more about Tai Chi and its background, please visit the following link: