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Learning Tai Chi increases balance and life

By Staff | Apr 24, 2012

Demonstrating the benefits of Tai Chi at Port Penn Peddler's spring event is instructor (front) Janice Hambridge from Hughesville. Left to right: Heather Truckenmiller, Watsontown; Meghan Truckenmiller, Watsontown; and Timberly Gordner, Montgomery.

MUNCY – Tai Chi is practiced more for its health benefits than its martial arts training for self defense. Since 1988, Janice Hambridge from Hughesville has been practicing the ancient Chinese art that is recognized today by many health practitioners for its revealing benefits of internal power. Six years ago Hambridge decided to teach Tai Chi to others. The study of Tai Chi is based on three aspects: Health, Meditation and Martial Arts.

Last weekend some techniques were demonstrated in a beautiful climate on the front lawn of the barn at Port Penn Peddler, 585 Pepper Street, Muncy. The concept is to use strong, precise movements to connect the whole body, mind, and spirit. T’ai means “the ultimate” and chi means “life energy.” “It’s all about meditation and movement,” said Hambridge.

This art form of bodily movement dates back to the mid 1500’s to aim at forms of training in the Chinese culture. It represents the Chinese philosophy of combining or fusing the Yin and Yang into a single ‘ultimate.’ Taoism and Confucianism also developed from these principles. The mind is focused solely on the movements of the form to help bring about a state of mental calm and clarity.

According to Hambridge it is good for the heart and for pain management. “It promotes overall good health,” she said. Hambridge likes to do Tai Chi first thing in the morning to start her day. “It helps to be in touch with your breathing which is the only gateway to the unconscious. It can either be a conscious or an unconscious movement,” she added.

She also recommends to perform the movements using bare feet as this allows the body to be in better touch with the earth’s energy and to reach out to the Crown Chakra, the center of energy. Medical studies support its effectiveness as an alternative exercise program and a form of martial arts therapy. “We try to relieve the stress from the body,” she said. She described each physical technique and movement to the class as a few women came to learn more about it. “It really helps with balance,” said Heather Truckenmiller from Watsontown. It requires a lot of leverage, coordination and relaxation. Hambridge generates these techniques slowly so that her students can gain the skill over time.

Today there are at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. Hambridge offers her classes on Monday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Hughesville High School.