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Ancient exercise, meditation brought to the Brewton area

By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
Beginning in the next few weeks, the Brewton area will have a new resource for improved physical fitness and stress relief that can be practiced by anyone.
Book and Bean and the Brewton Area YMCA will both be offering Tai Chi, ancient Chinese "exercises" that can be both meditative and physically beneficial. The practice of Tai Chi involves a series of slow and graceful movements, or "forms."
Wendi Huff, who will be the instructor for these classes, developed an interest in Tai Chi -- and its mother discipline Qi Gong -- after reading an article on the topic. Huff read books and did further research on the topic, and then decided to become a certified instructor.
She traveled to Santa Barbara, Calif. in January for training and will return in November to complete her certification.
The practice of Tai Chi is gentle enough to be safe for almost anyone, regardless of age or physical ability, and its benefits are many. According to Huff, Tai Chi can improve strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and breathing capacity -- and those are only the physical benefits.
Tai Chi is also useful for reducing stress, improving mindfulness and increasing well-being and self-esteem, Huff said.
As part of her certification, Huff is working on a research paper to develop a Tai Chi program for children using art and guided meditation.
Tai Chi classes at Book and Bean will begin Monday, May 3. Classes will be offered at 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Mondays and at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.
At the YMCA, Huff will be teaching Tai Chi at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, beginning May 11.