Doing Tai Chi during the lockdown in Keilor

The current lockdown has not stopped our Keilor Tai Chi Centre from getting together to practise Tai Chi and Qigong. Instructors Siew Ang and Jacquie Cannavo have been running park sessions whenever possible (before stage 4 restrictions) or Zoom classes for their students. Here is what some of them have to say about coping with these tough times through Tai Chi and Qigong practice.

From the students…

“What a crazy year! In June, as I was walking through Lagoon Reserve in Keilor, I noticed a group of people doing Tai Chi. As I got closer, I realised it was the Keilor Celestial Tai Chi group - at 2pm on a Tuesday after-noon!? (not the regular evening class) I walked over, said hello and promptly joined in. A lesson for every-one: keep your contact details up to date, as I missed the email advising us about these park classes.
Since then, with the latest restrictions in place, we have gone online with Live Zoom Tai Chi. This has re-charged my Tai Chi, particularly not having to go outside during winter and doing the Zoom lesson at home is very convenient and warm.
One thing we and our friends have noticed is how much everyone is eating and nibbling between meals whilst isolating at home and watching way too much TV to keep us entertained during the tight restrictions. As a consequence, our body joints are not getting enough movement and exercise. Therefore, I have now reincorporated Tai Chi in my morning routine to get everything moving to counter this. A brisk walk is essential exercise, but it is not enough for the body.
So, here is what Tai Chi does for me:
• Keeps the body flexible
• Zoom classes are a great discipline to keep us away from all the news and drama and work on inner focus
• Tai Chi reduces my hypertension and “chattering” mind
• Bottom line … great for the Body, Mind and Soul!”
Rob Bell

“First time round, I had problems from an operation, so I had to stay in.
Routine was my answer, after breakfast I had a long walk with my dog. Then, my exercises, followed by Tai Chi. Worked in the garden, as the weather was still good. Then back to patchwork, knitting and reading. I was allowed to visit my husband in a nursing home for 30 minutes, once a fortnight.
This time round is harder, as there seems to be no end to it, very scary, hard to accept that it could be till Xmas.”
Maureen Cullen

“I had recently commenced classes at the Keilor Centre, where under the guidance of Jacquie, I was slowly working through the first steps of Tai Chi. Then lockdown struck.
In these times of social distancing, when it is not possible to physically attend classes, online sessions via Zoom conducted by Siew has meant the regular weekly program of strengthening and stretching exercises can continue. I have also been able to extend my knowledge of Tai Chi moves. That this can be done in the comfort of home is brilliant. Siew has been very supportive and is very patient. Through using Zoom, I feel that I am the only one in the room. Siew’s calling the moves through the warm-up exercises provides a feeling of quiet relaxation.
However, I do look forward to attending the sessions at Keilor when the health situation in Victoria has improved.”
John Bourne

“As the Corona Virus Pandemic envelopes our daily living, Tai Chi has become my therapy. I am grateful to be able to practice my levels at any time I choose and also join in Siew's Zoom class once a week. During this pandemic, when we were able to practice in the park it added a special quality to Tai Chi that I really enjoyed and look forward to in the future, after isolation.”
Noreen Finding

“Tai Chi Covid-19 style: no, not a new form, just a different format! Siew’s Zoom classes have kept us together and motivated to practise on our own. As the first lockdown was lifted, a group of us with instructors Jacquie and Siew braved the Melbourne winter for park lessons, beanies becoming part or the new dress code. I look forward to Siew’s Zoom classes on Tuesday nights, but hopefully we will be able to have park lessons again soon with face masks being the new norm!”
John Cardwell

“Siew and Jacquie have worked very hard to keep the students engaged during this Covid-19 dilemma. When they could, they ran classes in the park, and when the weather or restrictions prevented this, they’ve run classes on Tuesday evenings via Zoom.
Zoom is not a good medium for demonstrating the form, however, Siew and Jacquie work very hard to make it work. Like everyone else, I look forward to getting back to ‘real life’ classes. In the interim, I am using Celestial videos and connecting (when I can) to the Zoom classes.”
Jeff Murdoch

“I am blessed to have good health, food, and shelter in these uncertain times - and a telephone to keep in touch with friends, family, and my friends in the Tai Chi community. Thanks and stay safe.”
Di Campbell

From the Instructors…

My thoughts on ‘Covid-19 Style Tai Chi’
“First of all, there was: LOCKDOWN 1. OMG NO TAI CHI !!!!!!!!! What are we going to do? Lucky we had Siew - she jumped in and BEAMED us all into the 21st Century with her Zoom Tai Chi Class on Tuesday nights. These classes caused some hilarity in the first few weeks, with some of us not knowing how Zoom really worked. However, we settled down into some serious Tai Chi Practice.
Then restrictions were eased. Whoopee! We were let out, so we all headed to the local park in small groups to practise our Tai Chi. We even enjoyed a cup of tea at the end of these sessions. Some days were chilly, hats, scarves and gloves were our Tai Chi uniform. We looked forward to these lessons in the park and also the social interactions, whilst practicing social distancing.
Now, LOCKDOWN 2. Zoom classes resumed thanks to Siew. We look forward to these classes. I have been exercising in our local park, practicing Tai Chi with one student (John Cardwell) who lives locally to me. We now have face masks to wear and, it’s guess who is behind the mask! We have to put up with our sun-glasses fogging up - but who cares, we are enjoying our Tai Chi.
Hope to see all our Tai Chi friends soon.”
Jacquie Cannavo, Instructor

“Just before Covid-19 invaded our lives, I had the opportunity to attend my choir practice via Zoom which was completely new to me.
When lockdown came in March, I thought I can give Tai Chi a go via Zoom. Not being very IT savvy, I played around a bit with my mini IPad with Jacquie and a couple of students. It was challenging and hilarious trying to work it out. Nevertheless, we had it up and going live online in April. I find this challenge very rewarding being able to share and teach Tai Chi via this technology or ‘Covid-19 style’.
Our main aim is to stay connected with our students, maintain our health and wellbeing through Tai Chi, able to have a chat and maintain contact in the safe and comfortable environment in our own home during this unprecedented time. We can only hope and pray that things will go back to normality soon.
Keep practicing your Tai Chi, keep well and stay safe. Take care.”
Siew Ang, Instructor

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Updated 10 August 2020