Every Wednesday morning, Jesse Jones Park offers a tai chi teaching session at 9 a.m. Open to all, including beginners, there is never a fee to attend.
Doug Ebeling teaches 24-step Yang-style tai chi and Chi Gong exercises. These sessions focus on providing details about the tai chi form.
The goals include learning the tai chi form, improving breathing and focusing on balance.
“We start with warm up, a breathing exercise and mild stretching. The tai chi form is performed two or three times during the session. In each teaching session, a detail of the form will be taught and practiced,” said Ebeling.
People can use these sessions as an introduction to the tai chi form. Tai chi performance and training can lead down many different paths. Meditation, martial arts, performance competition, Eastern medicine and spirituality are just a few of these paths.
“I personally started tai chi about 11 years ago, primarily learning the Yang Style, one of the major styles of tai chi. I have attended many tai chi competitions here in the United States and have traveled twice to China for additional training and competitions,” he said.
The 24-step Yang-style tai chi is the only tai chi form specifically designed for health benefits by the National Physical Culture and Sports Commission in Beijing, China. This form is all low impact and provides health benefits from breathing, stretching and range-of-motion exercises.
Regular practice has been shown to increase lower body muscle tone and improve balance. Proper practice of the breathing exercises will massage the internal organs, providing increased blood flow and stimulation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Tai chi has been offered for four years at Jesse Jones Park. Many people come to check it out and some of those return and attend regularly. The session size is usually six to 10 people, so everybody has the chance to get individual attention, or if they desire, they can follow along and learn at their own pace.
“People are welcome to follow and do the form at their level of ability and interest. Our objective in each session is to get people moving, leading to a healthier life,” Eberling said.
The offered sessions can be a brief look at these paths, or they can just be an opportunity to get out and do some breathing and stretching while being in a social setting. At any level of performance, improvements in health, balance and mood are gained.
“As an instructor I have learned and understood the tai chi form better over time,” said Eberling. “Sometimes students ask questions I cannot answer. When this happens, it makes me think about the answer and check sources. Anytime I have to research a topic, it improves my understanding and allows me to report back to the student and answer the question. These answers can be beneficial for not only for my understanding, but for the entire session.”
He said, “Teaching tai chi sessions is another way I can give back to the community through the Jesse Jones Park Volunteer Group. I am also involved with the group in the Homestead at Jesse Jones Park. In this group, we re-enact the 1830s’ lifestyle and demonstrate pioneer crafts and skills for the public.”