By Beth Ramos

Tuesday afternoons, Thriving In Place members move ever so slowly to the music of lute and flute as we practice Tai-Chi under the direction of Tracey Podraza. Tracey encourages each of us to experience the healing relaxation that Tai-Chi offers in our own way, which, when I began a year ago, seemed impossible.

Tai-chi movements are simple when they are broken down; we move arms to the left and right, focused on our hands, we move to the right, to the left, front and back in small steps so we don’t strain ourselves.

At first this western mind wanted to do each pose exactly as it is taught. The greatest learning after one year of practice is that the “Practice of Tai-chi” is different every day. Some days I enjoy focusing on my hands and their relationship to my upper back, some days it’s stepping lightly from my hips…That the mini-muscles in my hand and foot are connected to my “Core” muscles, a concept learned in science class, has become real. For an hour every week, I can feel my mind and body slow down as I move through the poses, noticing how everything is connected within and without.

Tai-chi is an ancient practice used for healing, strength and relaxation. At the end of each class, I am aware that the practice is working for me as I leave relaxed, refreshed and feeling good tired.

Tai-Chi is offered every Tuesday from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. in the Thriving In Place office (690 Celebration Ave). Tai-Chi is offered complimentary to members and is $5 for guests each session (price is subject to change). Members and guests participate in a one-hour tai-chi session weekly. This exercise class is adapted for individuals of all abilities and mobility levels and ages. Wear your comfortable clothes and be prepared to relax and feel rejuvenated after a peaceful hour of stretching and moving at your own speed.

Thriving In Place is a community-based membership program under the umbrella of the Celebration Foundation. Our members are Celebration residents who are at least 55 years of age, or a person with a disability of any age, who want to stay in their own homes and lead a healthy, safe, independent and productive life. For questions regarding Thriving In Place, please call Rachel McIntee at 407-572-9850, e-mail Thriving@celebrationfoundation.org, or visit the office at 690 Celebration Avenue.