Tai Chi classes provide various health benefits

? Participants in Athens Regional’s Tai Chi Chih classes work through the 19 movements said to lower blood pressure and decrease tension.

Kaiser Permanente in conjunction with UGA College of Public Health will offer free Tai Chi classes to UGA students, faculty and the local community. After opening a new health facility at UGA, the classes began last September as a part of a health promotion initiative.

“Kaiser wanted to improve the health of our community and our college responded,” Dr. Koichiro Otani, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at the UGA College of Public Health. “We invite all people, faculty and staff members, but also people of the community. Everyone is welcome. “

Kaiser Permanente hired Michael Issa, a Tai Chi instructor from Atlanta, to teach the classes. Classes are every Wednesday and Friday from 9-10 a.m. for beginners and upper level classes from 10-10:45 a.m.

“I have my own studio for Tai Chi and Martial Arts,” Issa said. “We do classes in Dunwoody and Atlanta. Kaiser hired me to come and teach Tai Chi classes here at UGA. I drive up from Atlanta every Wednesday and Friday. This is the first time we started a level 2 class, so the group is growing and picking up steam.”

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese calesthenic that is a combination of Martial Arts and ancient Chinese medical practices. In the United States, Tai Chi has been marketed towards the elderly because of the benefits for joint health and flexibility.

“Tai Chi is for all age groups,” Issa said. “For young people who are interested in expanding in their expertise in martial arts, Tai Chi serves as an advanced practice to help master the hard style. Considered a soft style, it’s able to use muscles in the body that the hard style neglects. By taking incremental steps slowly, you’re able to work finer muscles that generate greater power when you move faster in a martial arts application.”

Recognized by many health organizations including the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Tai Chi is considered to have many health benefits including benefits for tendon and legement health and chronic disease prevention by reducing stress and lowering inflammation in the body.

“College and high pressure jobs cause inflammation in the body and it can cause a lot of health problems down the road. Tai Chi is becoming a health management, to prevent disease down the road and in the interim helping to improve the quality of mental health,” Issa said.

Located in George Hall on the Health Science Campus, this semester’s classes began September 17. There is no class limitation size, but registration closes October 10.