The New Utrecht branch of the Brooklyn Public Library hosted a Tai Chi workshop as part of a series of Lunar New Year events being held by the library system in conjunction with Apple Bank.
Tai Chi is a traditional East-Asian exercise that focuses on relaxing the body without causing stress to the body.
Tzyann Hsu and Peter Berman of Qi Tao, a community-based organization that teaches Tai Chi and other practices based in Windsor Terrace, led the workshop, with Hsu teaching the class and Berman assisting.
The workshop, held in the library’s basement community room, opened with a brief discussion of Tai Chi before Hsu began demonstrating moves to the class. Over the course of the class, she taught the attendees four moves, and showed them how the calming motions can be modified to be used in self-defense.
“Tai Chi is actually very similar [to swimming],” said Hsu during the class, explaining that Tai Chi is also called swimming on land. “We have to take deep breaths; we have to move our body. But we also train our weight.”
Qi Tao’s workshop replaced the usual “chair yoga” activity that is hosted in the community room during the afternoon, but attendees said that they are glad to have been able to give Tai Chi a try.
“I’ve never done Tai Chin in my life, I’ve always wanted to do it,” said New Utrecht library regular Iris Winiger Conenna who participated in the class. “I appreciate that the library does this for us. I think it’s the greatest thing ever that they offer these classes.”
In addition to demonstrating a new exercise routine to those who attended, it introduced them to an aspect of East-Asian, most notably Chinese, culture, as many at the class were not Asian-Americans.
“As you saw, it’s not the crowd that would normally practice Tai Chi,” said Odette Larroche-Garcia, in reference to the diverse, though small, group of women that came out to the event. “So, it’s just getting them acquainted to what’s going on in other cultures.”
Overall, the instructors and attendants seemed to agree that the event had gone well and that the community would benefit from more Tai Chi classes.
“I hoped to bring awareness of how Tai Chi is good for everybody, for the health, for the balance, for the stress-relief,” instructor, or Sifu, Hsu said. “I think the participants are great, they seemed to enjoy it . . . This is a great place, I think they should have more [Tai Chi classes] offered.”