What can someone expect in a tai chi class?

You work at your own level. You can sit or stand. You want to bring your attention to what you’re experiencing so you don’t stress yourself. The movement should be beautiful and fun to do. I demonstrate the move and then I’ll talk people through it and then we do a lot of repetition. The moves are very unusual for people, but they’re not unnatural. They’re actually quite do-able. There are very few people who don’t get it. Generally, students do pretty well. We’re not looking for perfection.

What have your students told you are the benefits of the class?

Improved balance, better flexibility, deeper breathing. I have personally experienced a lot of improvement in the ability to walk and bend. I have osteoarthritis in my knees and lower back and I think the tai chi has helped me a lot. I also swim regularly and use a stationary recumbent bike. People have to find what works for them. I think tai chi works very beautifully.

Can anyone do tai chi?

I have taught my 4- and 6-year-old grandchildren. They were very cute and liked it. I’ve taught younger 50ish adults and seniors and my oldest student is 89. I’ve also done a class for the Arthritis Foundation at an adult daycare center where the people had cognitive impairments like dementia and Alzheimer’s. These people can’t remember the moves but they can follow and were very responsive to the meditative, gentle moves. On the day the tai chi class was scheduled people who were normally agitated were calm. There were some very good results.

Any personal arthritis success stories you’ve heard?

I’ve gotten positive feedback. People have said, “I’m moving better. I’m more relaxed. I can walk better. I can get out of bed easier. My knees don’t hurt.”

Why should people try it?

In all the classes I’ve taught, I’ve gotten almost 100 percent positive feedback that they’ve found it helpful to them in doing their activities in daily life with less strain and they find it fun to do. There’s really a feeling of shared energy and doing this positive thing together. It has an amazing effect. It’s kind of magical.

Read more about the Arthritis Foundation's "Tai Chi for Arthritis" video. 

Watch excerpt of the "Tai Chi for Arthritis" DVD.

To learn how to order the video, visit the Arthritis Foundation's store.