Hikers TAI CHI-ing in Italy

I have just returned from a one-month holiday in Italy. It is somewhat paradoxical that in a country with so many piazzas/squares, always in the centre of towns, where all kinds of public activities are conducted, I never saw anyone doing Tai Chi.

However, when I told some of our fellow hikers on our guided tour of Abruzzo that I was an instructor, they were keen to learn more. At first, only one of the ladies came for a short class at a nearby park. She must’ve given a good report to others because in the next class there were 5 hikers. It was an all female class and some of them had done yoga, which helped.

As an instructor, I always find the first class for ‘newbies’ to be the most challenging, trying to convey the principles of Tai Chi and Qigong without overload, but still making it an enjoyable experience.

As we had been doing some arduous hiking with light rucksacks, I felt that they would find our introductory breathing and warm-up exercises beneficial, especially for the back, neck and shoulders. Also, the wrist and ankle rotations, plus some Qigong inspired stretches from ‘Shibashi’ Set One. Interestingly, one of the ladies remarked that the swinging arms exercise with the rhythmical light taps of the upper arms and kidney areas reduced her anxiety. She confessed to being stressed on aircraft.

In Level One Celestial College Yang Tai Chi form, we completed the first ‘stroking the bird’ movement. It is always sobering to realise what a challenge it is for a first timer to learn these opening moves.

I encouraged the participants to follow up with Tai Chi in their home countries, although where one would find such classes in Sudan or Abu Dhabi is anyone’s guess.

Len Lock, Assistant Instructor
Box Hill Centre

Updated: 17 August 2022