Yuko Voss will teach a tai chi chih class this month at the Chatfield United Methodist Church, sharing how gentle movement can lead to wellness.
Yuko Voss will teach a tai chi chih class this month at the Chatfield United Methodist Church, sharing how gentle movement can lead to wellness.
Do the 19 tools for joy.

"The style of tai chi that I teach is called tai chi chih," explained Yuko Voss, an instructor who will share her exercise and meditation movements during two upcoming class sessions at Chatfield United Methodist Church (CUMC).

"Tai chi chih is a series of 19 soft, slow and easy repetitive movements and one pose. It relaxes your mind and body. It improves overall wellness. It can be practiced by any age. It is normally practiced standing, but can be practiced while sitting," Voss added.

She explained she became a tai chi chih enthusiast and instructor after suffering injuries at work. "I was a data clerk and injured my arms from repetitive computer work. They got so bad that I started to lose the feeling in my hands. I could not drive, cook and work. I was scared of losing my job and the use of my arms, so I got very stressed."

She knew she had to do something so she took a tai chi chih class being offered through the local community education program about seven years ago. She began to see improvement in her arms and they have improved and become "well" again.

"The best thing is that I am not depressed any more," Voss continued. "I am enjoying my life. I would like to share this experience with as many people as possible. That's why I became a teacher."

Tai chi chih instructors must be accredited before being allowed to proceed in teaching others. "I practiced about three years, taking tai chi chih classes. Then I took an intensive course that is for teacher candidates. After that, I took the teacher accreditation course, which lasts a week, and was accredited as a teacher."

Since receiving her accreditation, Voss has taught tai chi chih at the Pain Rehabilitation Center, the Mayo Clinic, the Spring Valley Care Center, Pine Island Assisted Living, churches in Rochester and in private homes.

She related that tai chi chih is easy for everyone to do because it offers slow, soft repetitive movements with soothing music. It is also a flexible program so participants can practice the movements they enjoy most at their own homes.

"The movements are easy," Voss said. "Do tai chi chih with your favorite music to make it fun, and tai chi chih with other people in the class makes it very joyful. People in the class get friendly - I think because tai chi chih is so relaxing and a joy to do, people get a friendly mood in the class."

Voss counted the many ways how tai chi chih can bring wellness to people's lives. "Tai chi chih is a life tool for overall wellness. If you take medication, you have to bring it on the trip. Tai chi chih becomes yours. You have it whenever you need to relax or to have energy," she said. "Your colds and injuries heal faster, and you realize you see doctors less and less and take medication less and less by continuing practice. The best of all, you are calmer and at the same time, you feel more energy."

Other health-related benefits of practicing tai chi chih include improved balance and coordination, improved focus, improved mood, reduced stress, blood pressure and weight regulation, increased stamina, improved creativity and productivity, a strengthened immune system, improved condition of arthritis and reductions of backaches.

In fact, Voss has made it part of her daily routine, even though she's regained the use of her hands.

"When I do tai chi chih first thing in the morning, I will stay relaxed and calm all day," she explained. "It seems that everything goes smoothly the rest of the day. Whenever I start to feel tired, or stressed, I do tai chi chih - on the waiting line at a cashier, or in the doctor's office or anywhere at all."

The greatest challenge of teaching the relaxation techniques is "to spread tai chi chih."

"It is not well known compared to other things," Voss said. "Tai chi Chuan is more popular in the U.S., but tai chi chih is not like tai chi Chuan. It is not based on a martial art."

Also, she works to "make the students slow down when they do movements...there is a desire to go too fast at first."

Teaching tai chi chih excites Voss because she likes sharing the joy of movements with her students. She also enjoys hearing their success stories, including when they tell her they have improved balance and have gained strength in their arms and legs.

She added that she likes "to see them relax and enjoy doing tai chi chih and helping them realize that tai chi chih is a life tool for their health."

Voss's open class is slated to begin Thursday, Jan. 10, and continue through nine Thursdays through March 7. The class will be held from 10:35 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. at Chatfield United Methodist Church on Winona St.

The senior citizen class begins Feb. 7 and continues through April 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at CUMC.

Cost is $40 per person, but Voss encourages prospective participants to take advantage of the first class and pay for the rest at the second class.

"I am an easy-going and fun-loving instructor. I want people to come to my class and try. After the class, you feel very refreshed," she concluded.

Registration is done simply by appearing at the classes, or by calling Voss at (507) 281-3163 or e-mailing her at vosssenshu@aol.com. For more information on tai chi chih itself, log onto www.taichichih.org.