The Science of Tai Chi and Qi Gong

Have you enjoyed watching the people in the park engage in Tai Chi?  You likely noticed the calmness that surrounds all the participants in the flowing movements.  Have you wondered if you could ever do that yourself?  Have you also wondered what the benefits of Tai Chi practice might be?

Tai Chi and its health benefits have been with us for centuries.  In North America, we have had the privilege of instructors with strong family lineage in Tai Chi practice coming to us and spreading the word.

What are some of the benefits of a regular Tai Chi practice?

  • Deeper breathing
  • Relaxation
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Improved eyesight
  • Strengthened balance and centering
  • Relaxation of the Vagus Nerve to calm the nervous system
  • Gentle massaging of the heart
  • Improved focus and thinking for creative process, completion of tasks and a calm mind
  • Pain reduction
  • Joint mobility
  • Mood enhancer
  • and more…

The list continues as the needs of the body are met and there is a balance and flow to the systems.

In Cape Breton, Dr. Michelle Greenwell offers in-person classes with Tai Chi Cape Breton at the Inverness County Center for the Arts on Tuesday mornings from 10 – 12 pm, and at the Creignish Hall on Thursday evenings from 6:30 – 8 pm.  Beginners are always welcome, and the topics of discovery and exploration vary each week.  The classes enhance learning about the 108 Moving Meditation, Sabre and Lok Hup.  Special to these classes are the opportunity to do both the Seated Form of the movements as well as the Standing Form.  The Seated Form is usually reserved for those with standing movement challenges, but Michelle has a way of helping you discover your personal blocks in movement through the seated explorations.  This helps to add more to the quality of movement when you stand.

To learn more about the classes, check out the Tai Chi Cape Breton Flyer: 2023 TCCB flyer – Copy

To find some video support to increase your learning opportunities, check out the YouTube videos

Qi Destinations are a part of the TCCB program, and this fall the group will be traveling to several locations to celebrate Tai Chi together.  You can learn more about the events by Subscribing to these blog posts on the main page of the website.  Coming up is the Glenora Distillery and Doug Frasers Art Sculptures tour.  We also enjoy the music of Brenda Bowen Cox on harp for many of our classes in the summer, this is a gift for releasing stress in the body while enjoying the calming and inspiring music.

Michelle has enjoyed presenting Tai Chi and the value of its regular practice at research symposiums and conferences.  She will be traveling to Boston this September to offer two presentations as a guest of The Science of Tai Chi and Qi Gong as Whole-Person Health.

Her first presentation to the conference will be:

Tai Chi Seated Form expands Awareness and BioFeedback to Develop Self-Empowerment Skills for Well-Being Daily.

Objectives:    1. Identify stress response awareness expressed by the body    2. Explore seated form exercises and re-assess stress signals

3. Application of exercises in self-care, clinical settings, and group programs


The seated form of Tai Chi has been a hidden gem reserved for health recovery patients who already have physical and mental challenges.  This presentation will bring the skills of the seated form forward for applications in self-care programs, for entrepreneurs and workers who hold static positions all day with their work (computer, desk, standing on cement, driving), and for physiotherapy, orthopedics, kinesiology, and psychotherapy programs wanting to empower their patients or clients, while learning more about the mobility stress response. This approach serves multicomponent interventions easily and aligns with empowering the person to be engaged in their self-care before a crisis results.

Participants will be able to understand the mobility signals of the stress response expressed through the body including foot sensors, breathing, Vagus nerve restrictions, and the senses.  Exploring seated-form exercises they will gain biofeedback knowledge of changing stress signals.  Applications to self-care, clinical settings, and group programs will be offered.

The format of the presentation will include walking assessments, foot sensor assessments, joint and mobility explorations, breathing, and thought processes. This will be followed by seated explorations of foot isolations, arm isolations, hand positions, spiral actions, seated to standing Don Yu’s, the three Jiaos, Brush Knees, Ward Off Monkey, and Pull the Ox’s Tail. Following the explorations re-assessment will be done with a discussion on the applications of programs in a clinical setting, as homework for clients or patients, and group opportunities for both in-person and online platforms.

Her second presentation will be in the form of a Poster Board which will provide conference attendees with a chance to engage in a conversation about some of the work Michelle has done to map the spine for emotional connections, muscle connections, and movement patterns connecting through the nervous system.  She will be sharing this information through the Affirmations for the Body and BioField deck with interactive art, as well as the It’s in the Cards deck with sharing how Tai Chi can regulate emotions and mental wellbeing.

The original proposal included:

The Spine Emotions and the Five Element Theory Applications for Self-Care Programming through Interactive Art, Color, Tai Chi, Six Healing Sounds, and Affirmations.

Objectives:         1. Explore the importance of spine mobility and emotional well-being  2. To identify the power of the Five Element Theory for laypeople 3. Share program opportunities with color, sound, intention, and Tai Chi for well-being


Some of the unique features of Tai Chi are the massaging opportunity on the feet, the spiral action that creates whole-body movement repatterning, the deepening of the breath, and the calming of the mind – biophysiological and psychosocial mechanisms.  By engaging in Tai Chi and Qi Gong activities these and other changes just happen.  Participants can be empowered with an understanding of how the energy cycles work in the body through simple explorations of the Five Element Theory and the relationship of muscles to organ systems and emotions. In addition, the mobility of the spine and the spine rotation action found in Tai Chi patterns is explored to share more about balancing emotions and movement patterns.

This session will be the exploration of specific movement patterns from Tai Chi as they relate to the Five Element Theory.  Experience with color, art, the 6 healing sounds, and intention will be included in these explorations to establish the simplicity of daily self-care and self-empowerment. A more in-depth discussion on the spiritual aspects of each vertebra in the spine, and their functioning frequency, will be woven into movement options that spiral and open the spaces between the joints.  Posture, awareness, biofeedback, and function will be explored to identify the impact of Tai Chi on well-being for posture care, gait, and agility.

The format of the presentation will include initial movement assessments related to the spine and posture, and emotional well-being. Several exercises using art, and a Five Element wheel will provide hands-on experiences for the participants to gain first-hand insight into their own physiological changes, as well as their inner sense of calm and peace. The addition of color and sound experiences will add additional insight into setting up daily activities for successful energetic outcomes and overall well-being.  Support for clients and patients will be shared, as well as a proactive plan for daily Tai Chi.

Stay tuned for Michelle’s podcast interview with World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Event Organizer, Bill Douglas, “Global Enrichment through Tai Chi.”  She will be releasing their conversation in September on the Be Well with Michelle Greenwell podcast.

For those interested in attending an online conference, Michelle will also be presenting for the World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Congress September 30th – October 1st.  You can register here.  There are two incredible days of presentations.

Tai Chi is a gift to yourself that changes the way you move, feel, think, and engage with others.  As whole body movement is enhanced, strength, balance, and joy begin to grow.  How you move daily, and how you take care of yourself transforms with cumulative energy enhancing techniques that become a part of your day.  Consider taking a class and enjoy the opportunities that Tai Chi Cape Breton has to offer for in-person classes.

For those seeking online support because you don’t live in the area, Michelle will be posting her fall schedule for Movement Made Easy and Qi YINtegration.  Both classes have rave reviews from previous years, and they will be offered in 8 week blocks that are recorded for review and additional support. Stay tuned for their details!



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