Tai Chi Day brings serenity to U campus

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Tai Chi and yoga students and instructors from around Salt Lake City came to celebrate World Tai Chi day on the Marriott Library Plaza on Saturday, April 25.

World Tai Chi day is celebrated every year by people from all different time zones. The U doesn’t fail to participate in this international event.

Initiated by theatre professor Bill Parkinson, U Tai Chi Day participants included people taking Parkinson’s Tai Chi Yoga Movement class as well as other Tai Chi schools and anyone else in the community.

The morning began with everyone in attendance socializing and performing warm-ups to prepare for the international event. At 10 a.m., the Tai Chi began. Every student and instructor, of all skill levels, engaged in the slow-moving, control-focused movement.

Though Parkinson started as a yoga enthusiast, he discovered his passion for Tai Chi in 1969.

“I was teaching Yoga and practicing Yoga one day,” Parkinson said. “A guy came by and started talking to us about Tai Chi. To demonstrate … he stood right in front of me and let me hit him. I couldn’t feel anything when I hit him. It just amazed me. I spent the next three years trying to find somebody who knew Tai Chi here in Utah.”

Parkinson found a Tai Chi expert, learned the art and started teaching Tai Chi in 1972. Now he teaches Tai Chi Yoga Movement at the U. The class consists of physical movement as well as learning the history and philosophy of both exercises.

“Bill’s a really good guy,” said Hope Twede, a biology major and Tai Chi student. “He related a lot of things back to life, and he’s very thorough in trying to get the philosophy and not just the movements.”

Tai Chi can help alleviate the stress of the day and calm the senses, which can prove useful for U college students.

“It’s pretty great because we’re really learning a lot about how to stay calm in many situations,” said Michael Daniel, a journalism major and Tai Chi student.

But relieving stress is just one of the reasons people practice Tai Chi. Many of the Tai Chi practitioners who attended expressed the peaceful emotions that come with exercising this form of movement.

“It changes the way you think about confrontation,” said Anna Marugg, a student at Dragon Studios. “With Tai Chi, you just move away from it and allow their negative energy to move away from you, and you just go on your way.”

While the weather and atmosphere was calm and soothing on the U campus, other parts of the world were in distress. A 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing over 2,400 deaths.

Jerry Gardner, U Theatre Professor and Red Lotus School of Movement instructor, said his students spent the earlier part of the morning meditating and sending soothing thoughts towards the victims of the Nepal earthquake.

“We can generate positive thoughts in that movement for those individuals or whoever it may be,” Gardner said. “Then, we’ll make specific prayers at that level, so we’re looking at things on a spiritual level that some suffering may be alleviated in the hearts and minds of those who are enduring it.”

Gardner has asked for small donations and contributions to be sent to the people of Nepal.

c.peterson@chronicle.utah.edu

@ChronyArts

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