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When Pauline Noviello, certified tai chi instructor, started attending lessons seven years ago, she had a problem with her balance. She discovered the internal Chinese martial arts technique helped her become steadier.
“I want to pass it and pay it forward to other people,” said Noviello, who now teaches new participants.
For four years, she has taught people at Messiah Senior Center, 324 Howard St., South Williamsport.
“It makes me feel good,” Noviello said. “It brings everyone to a tranquil state of mind. It’s good for all diseases. It helps with balance. It’s great for the brain. Any time we do something with our brain, our brain power, it increases. It reduces stress. It tones the body.”
In addition to all the positives it comes with, she said, it is easy to do and even can be done sitting in a chair.
A big part of tai chi is breathing the correct way, which provides energy. That energy is used for tai chi, but also for life in general, Noviello said.
Tai chi is done slowly. She said one of the participants did it at a traffic light.
“What we do is sometimes we just have to take our time,” she said. “I show them and then I have them watch me. They follow me and then I ask them to show me. (Learning how to do) one move takes a month or so. It’s the hand movements and they have to be doing it correctly to get the benefit of the move.”
The first level of tai chi has 20 moves to learn. The second level has 11 moves.
Noviello had to be trained for level two before she could start teaching it. The Office of Aging in Lycoming and Clinton counties paid for her to be certified so she could teach it.
Every Friday at 12:30 p.m., people gather together in the senior center for tai chi.
It isn’t just seniors, though.
“It’s good for any age,” Noviello said. “It’s good for the young and the young at heart.”
Two Pennsylvania College of Technology students from Saudi Arabia joined the group to interact with others and improve their English.
About 13 people usually meet for the class.
First they do multiple warm-up exercises for the neck, spine, waist and ankles.
“It helps overall the whole body,” she said.
While there are many different kinds of tai chi, those at the senior center are working on tai chi for arthritis.
“You don’t need any special equipment,” Noviello said.
Because they meet so often, she said those who participate are close and consider themselves the tai chi family.
At the end of each month, they each bring in an item to contribute to their “friendship salad,” as a way to stay healthy and catch up.