Frequently Asked Questions

Isn’t tai chi a martial art?

Tai chi is rooted in martial arts, meditation and traditional Chinese medicine. As a martial art, tai chi is called “soft” or “internal” because it emphasizes finely tuned sensory awareness, balance, agility, and embodying the principle of softness overcoming resistance. Today, tai chi is most commonly practiced as a Qigong (Chi Kung) for its health benefits, which is the focus of all Tai Chi for Health classes.

What is Qigong?

Qigong has been practiced in China for thousands of years to promote health and longevity. Qigong is translated as energy cultivation or breath work. These exercises include gentle repetitive movements and walking patterns, as well as still meditations done standing and sitting. The focus is to enhance body awareness, balance, flow and tranquility.  Tai chi is often called a moving Qigong because of the constant changes of shape and direction.

What does a tai chi class involve?

Classes are one hour in length. They begin with a gentle Qigong warm-up emphasizing relaxation, centering, and an awareness of posture, breath, balance and coordination. The skill building part of tai chi focuses on understanding the mechanics and intention of the movement; practicing and over many weeks (and years) to memorize a set or sequence of movement forms.  Focus, ease and efficiency enhance feelings of coherence and wholeness.  This experience of body-mind integration is where the healing nature of tai chi/Qigong is found.  Each class concludes with a brief cool-down.

I have some health concerns: is tai chi safe for me?

In terms of physical exertion, the exercise involved in Tai Chi for Health classes is similar to walking. Tai chi is traditionally done standing, but Tai Chi for Health classes can be modified to be done seated. Qigong exercises are done both standing and sitting. Participants are encouraged to rest when needed, and to work within their individual comfort zones. Classes are non-competitive, allowing students to progress at their own pace.

If you have any medical concerns that might impact your ability to participate comfortably, please consult your physician.

I’ve never done tai chi before. Which class is right for me?

For people with no experience doing tai chi, the Tai Chi for Health – Level I class is the best way to begin. The repetitive movements and step-by step instruction provide ample time to become comfortable with the forms and to follow with ease. Qigong warm-ups introduce fundamental exercises to cultivate relaxation, flow, and awareness of alignment and breath.

If you have never done tai chi but have a strong background in martial arts or dance, you might consider beginning with the Traditional Tai Chi classes. These classes explore longer and more complex sequences when compared with the shorter and more gently paced Tai Chi for Health program.

Is tai chi right for me?

Our classes are designed for adults of all ages, and are easily adaptable to varying levels of physical ability. Tai chi classes are traditionally done standing but all exercises can also be done sitting.

What is a tai chi “form”?

Tai chi is made up of a series of short movements – called “forms” or “postures” – which are performed sequentially to create a set.  Typical beginner sets might contain 6 to 12 forms, while traditional tai chi sets can include anywhere from 36 to 108 forms.

What should I wear?

You should wear comfortable clothes and flat flexible shoes.

No. You will not need any equipment. You might want to bring a bottle of water.

How many people are in a class?

Class sizes range from 5 to 20 students, depending on the size of the teaching space.

What is a cycle?

A cycle is made up of six classes, one per week. If you would like to attend two classes a week, you would register for two concurrent cycles.

Why do different locations have different start dates?

Class schedules may vary slightly due to the calendar of activities associated with a particular location, to accommodate for holidays as well as Gurney’s training calendar .

Can I make up classes that I miss?

Yes. During the cycle in which you are registered you are encouraged to make up any missed class. You may choose among any location or class time. Please refer to the  schedule  to find another class at your level. This means that you would take two (or more) classes in a week, before or after your absence, to make up what you have missed or expect to miss. Please coordinate with your instructor.

How and when do I register?

You can register for classes by calling or emailing us, or filling out the form here, indicating your choice of class. Please register at least a week before the session begins to ensure your place in the group.

How do I pay for a session?

The payment for each session must be made prior to or at the first class of the session.

The following payment methods are accepted:
– Check
– Credit card
– Cash

Are gift certificates available?

Yes, please contact us to purchase a gift certificate.

Can I register late?

While it is preferable to register in advance, it is possible to join a group at a later time if space permits. In this case, the fee is adjusted according to the number of classes remaining in the cycle.

Repetition is at the core of learning to relax and deepen the experience of the movement exercises. Material is developed gradually; latecomers should have little difficulty feeling at ease.

Can I get a refund if I can’t continue the class?

Registration fees are not refundable, but may be credited toward a future session.