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Refresh yourself with Tai Chi & Tea

The formal greeting, Wushu, for tai chi. The fist represents strength, the four fingers together represents unity and the bent thumb represents humanity. (Brooklyn Andres/The Collegiate)

By Brooklyn Andres

Emily Nisley, associate professor and counselor at Grand Rapids Community College, holds weekly Tai Chi & Tea sessions for staff, students and faculty allowing them to practice tai chi, enjoy tea afterwards and to take a break from the hectic craze of everyday life.

Tai Chi & Tea events are held every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. in room 336 of the Student Center. Tai chi was developed in ancient China and is a mix of slow paced martial arts and SUN-style tai chi. Since tai chi is seen in many parts of the world today, Nisley thought it was a great idea to bring it to GRCC.

“I had classes on a wide range of holistic health and wellness topics (which) included tai chi,” Nisley said. “And the whole series was inspired by the learning that I did on my sabbatical last year.”

Not only is tai chi great for physical health, but it is beneficial to mental health. 

Emily Nisley doing Tai Chi. (Brooklyn Andres/The Collegiate) Brooklyn Andres

“There’s plenty of research showing how the form of tai chi that we are using in (the sessions) is great for increasing flexibility, balance, strength and just overall fitness, as well as mental health and emotional benefits,” Nisley said.  

Nisley believes doing tai chi can be great for stress reduction and improving a person’s mood. Whether it’s a person’s mental or physical health, or even a person’s overall wellness, doing tai chi is bound to benefit one or more aspect of a person’s life.

“If students are participating in things like this…they’re going to be more focused,” Nisley said. “They’re going to be more resilient with the stressors that they face, and they’re going to learn better in class.”

Tai chi is accessible to everyone. It can be done sitting or standing, and it is a very slow paced activity. Nisley encourages participants to “practice within their comfort zone, (because) they’ll still get the same benefits.”

The Tai Chi & Tea Series is only on its third week at GRCC, and they are already seeing students showing interest in attending or returning to the events.

There’s more than just physical and emotional benefits to tai chi as well.

“GRCC staff can receive a professional development credit for attending,” Nisley said. “And when students come, (the instructor) can provide attendance slips which (sometimes) will allow students to earn extra credit in their courses if a professor allows.”

To find out more, the next Tai Chi & Tea session will be held at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 2.