Our Thursday night Celestial Tai Chi Class had been held at Werribee for approximately 20 years until a 2022 fire at the hall resulted in us relocating to the Central Park Community Centre in Hoppers Crossing. We are now all very comfortable in our new venue which has attracted several new students. We have a lovely group of various ages and fitness levels, who are all very supportive of one another and all so willing to learn.
I asked the class to write about their personal experiences within the tai chi class, and / or, what tai chi means to them. The following articles are their responses:
Rita Sullivan, Instructor
For eleven years, Thursday night Tai Chi class has been non-negotiable. It has become “My Time”. Time to clear my mind of the daily rush and routine to focus on just one thing. I cannot practice Tai Chi with a busy brain. It is a pleasure to engage each week with a diverse group of people; many of us probably would never have met elsewhere. We are all at different stages of our Tai Chi experiences, but so willing to help and encourage each other to reach the next level. That look that says “Yes!” is priceless. Not all of us will become experts. Not all can practise on our own. So we enjoy the moment each week, take away from it what is needed and keep on coming back to re-fuel. Thank-you Rita and Graham, for your leadership and nurturing.
Cresenca Jones, Student
I have attended Celestial Tai Chi classes for about three years, and it has improved my physical fitness, but the thing I like most about Tai Chi is that I can’t find an excuse to NOT do it. So many forms of exercise require equipment or special clothing, but not with Tai Chi. Every day when I think to myself "I should stand up and do some Tai Chi or Qigong" I cannot come up with a good reason to NOT do it.
I could say to myself, I have no time, but even five minutes of Tai Chi is good. Or I could say, the weather is too hot/too cold, but I can do Tai Chi in the kitchen. Maybe I haven’t slept well, then I can do some slow and quiet stretches. Tai Chi is adaptable and low cost, and I am very grateful for the way it fits into my schedule and enhances my wellbeing.
Leonie Cameron, Student
Tai Chi has been part of my life for more than 10 years now and as I have Parkinson’s I have found that Tai Chi helps with my balance and mobility with its fluid motion and kicks, this is a big help to prevent falls because it teaches weight transfer. The great part is that no one judges you and you can go at your own pace and how your body is feeling on that day. The other parts of Tai Chi that I enjoy are the relaxation and meditation that is part of the experience of Tai Chi. We arrived in Melbourne from up north and have always felt welcomed and accepted by the leaders of the group and all the students, no matter what their background or experience with Tai Chi.
Carmel Wall, Student
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and practicing Tai Chi for well over 10 years. Though I initially saw it as primarily good exercise, I realized it is so much more. It can also be a meditative, relaxing experience that tests your concentration at times and helps reduce stress. Learning with Rita and Graham is a very enjoyable experience and the atmosphere in the hall on Thursday nights when our group meets is always very welcoming and inclusive. Overall, a great night full of learning.
Peter Wall, Student
Now that I have retired, I have no desire to be a couch potato. I like the stretching and breathing movements in qigong, and I really like the feeling of flow in doing the Yang 108 form.
I believe that if I can practice the Yang 108 form, my mind will be exercised as well. The older qigong forms are interesting. I enjoy practicing with a friendly group of like-minded people and the class is close to where I live. I look forward to continuing to learn new forms and qigong exercises. Good health is more valuable than money!
Rodger Hempfing, Student
My experience with Tai Chi has been very positive. I joined Rita and her team at Celestial Tai Chi about a year ago and I felt very welcomed and supported. There are a few reasons why I started my Tai Chi journey.
(1) For the social interaction: Which has proved to be a lot of fun and I have met some great people. (2) For the Mind and Body connection: Tai Chi has helped me be in the present moment to focus on my movements and improve my concentration and self-awareness. (3) I find Tai Chi so graceful and gentle that anybody can do it. It’s not just for the mature person but for the younger generation also.
I recently attended a Tai Chi Workshop which I found very interesting, very different to what I have been learning with Rita. We learned the 5 different animal movements, we did a mediation and GM Eng Chor taught us the pressure points to relieve aches and pains. We also had a great afternoon tea that the ladies prepared for us. I am sure I will be attending part 2 in Ashburton in October.
Kristina Alush, Student
In 1995 I stood at the hotel window as the sun began to rise. In the park beside the Green Lake in Kunming, China there were hundreds of people doing Tai Chi before they began their days work. It looked like the most beautiful peaceful, angelic dance and I wanted to race down and join them. It took 27 years but when I walked into my first class at Celestial Tai Chi I immediately felt at home. I was welcomed with open arms and instantly knew this was the right learning environment for me. A group of like-minded people all with different skill levels but all here to learn. That’s the beauty of Tai Chi – there is something to learn every lesson. I initially came to improve coordination and balance – my physical well-being. I had no concept that I would also be working on my inner well-being. I leave the Celestial Tai Chi class feeling energised, not by a surge of adrenaline but because I have restored the harmony between my body and my mind. I cannot imagine my life without Tai Chi, and I thank Rita and the rest of my Tai Chi family at Celestial Tai Chi in Hoppers Crossing for opening my eyes to this wonderful way of life.
Gillian Barker, Student
Updated: 11 September 2023