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Leisure Services

Posted on: May 13, 2020

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day to focus on health and healing May 30

Women practice tai chi movements.

COOKEVILLE – The movements are slow, graceful and seemingly simple.

But make no mistake – people who practice tai chi and qigong are getting a workout. Improving their health, too.

Cookeville Leisure Services’ new recreation programmer, Sally Herren, has been discovering the benefits firsthand while preparing for World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, a free event set for May 30 at 10 a.m. at Cane Creek Recreation Center.

“I’ve had to learn a lot about it,” she said. “It’s really interesting.”

Herren has been working with long-time Leisure Services tai chi instructor Nikki Desch, who has nearly 40 years of experience teaching the ancient Chinese meditative movements.

“It’s about peace, love, harmony and health,” Desch said.

Hundreds of cities in more than 80 nations on six continents participate annually at 10 a.m. their time in an effort to educate people on the benefits of mind-body practices and provide an example of how the world can come together across racial, ethnic, religious and geopolitical borders to focus on personal and global health and healing. The motto is “One world… one breath.”

The event normally takes place on the last Saturday in April, but this year, due to COVID-19 precautions, it was rescheduled to May 30. It will be held outdoors on the recreation center grounds with participants spaced at least six feet apart, in keeping with social distancing guidelines. Attendees are encouraged to follow along as Desch demonstrates tai chi and qigong movements. (In case of inclement weather, it will instead be a Facebook Live event on the Cookeville Leisure Services Fitness page.)

“It is great exercise for our mind and body,” she said. “It helps with balance, endurance and flexibility.”

Since Herren is new to tai chi, she is eager to see how others react to World Tai Chi and Qigong Day.

“I just want to see what they enjoy about it,” she said.

Desch, whose regular tai chi classes are on hold temporarily, is also looking forward to the event.

“I hope to see everyone, especially my students,” she said. “I haven’t seen them in so long. I do miss everyone.”

Desch said the event is timely in light of recent health concerns.

“Exercise of any kind is always good,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on. Tai chi and qigong keep your mind and body alert and help with the stress people are feeling nowadays.”

This year’s event marks the 11th held in Cookeville. In addition, Cookeville was the first Tennessee city to get a World Tai Chi and Qigong Day proclamation signed by the governor.

Everyone is welcome. To learn more, call 526-7393.

“It’s about peace,” Desch said. “Let’s get together, forget about everything else, practice these slow stretches – just heal ourselves.”