Tai Chi for Health and Balance

Tai Chi is known as one of the most effective exercises for physical and mental well-being. Practiced throughout the world for its many health benefits, Tai Chi strengthens and mobilizes joints and muscles, improving physical fitness and mental relaxation. Tai Chi is easy to learn and do, no matter what your physical condition or age, and without prior knowledge of Tai Chi, making it suitable for most people. No special equipment is necessary - participants are encouraged to wear loose, comfortable clothing that they can move freely in.

Programming Updates

During this time of COVID-19, in-person Tai Chi for Health and Balance classes are not being offered for public safety reasons.  Plans to return to in-person programming are informed by CDC guidance, and are tentative at this time. However, we are pleased to be able to offer this program virtually via Zoom. Find and register for virtual tai chi programs being offered by SMAA and other organizations throughout Maine on the Healthy Living for ME calendar.

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging is now a provider with Healthy Living for ME, a Maine network delivering programs to help adults manage chronic health conditions, prevent falls, and foster well-being.

Read more about what we’re doing to support wellness through virtual program offerings, and check the Agewell Schedule of Classes for details on weekly classes via Zoom. 

group of adults practicing tai chi, some are standing some are seatedTai Chi is a low-impact exercise that works well for older adults because it is performed in slow, fluid movements which puts minimal stress on bones and joints. Tai Chi can be done seated or standing, which allows for people to participate at their own ability level. Tai Chi has been shown to prevent falls by:

  • Improving balance
  • Increasing leg strength
  • Reducing fear of falling
  • Improving mobility
  • Increasing flexibility 
  • Improving psychological health 

Program Description

Tai Chi for Health and Balance (TCHB) was developed by Dr. Paul Lam for the Arthritis Foundation. The program uses gentle Sun-style Tai Chi routines that are safe, easy to learn, and suitable for every fitness level. The ancient discipline of Tai Chi combines agile steps, joint-safe exercise and mental strength to improve mobility, breathing and relaxation in ways that help you feel greater control over your daily life. It is a joint-safe way for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy life and meet new friends while taking control of your physical, emotional, and mental health.

VIDEO: "The practice of Tai chi; and why it's sweeping senior homes" - Courtesy of News Center Maine

Does it Work?

Yes! According to a report by the Arthritis Foundation, Tai Chi has been linked to:

  • Decreased pain
  • Improved movement
  • Reduced falls/improved balance
  • Improved ability to perform tasks
  • Improved strength/flexibility 

By training our minds and bodies to move in a slow, mindful way, our muscles become stronger, improving balance and coordination. As we gain confidence with improved strength and balance, the fear of falling is reduced.   

Program Structure 

Introduction Workshop (Beginning)

Classes meet for one hour twice a week, for 11 weeks, learning a sequence of 12 Tai Chi “forms.” Our instructors are all trained and certified to teach Tai Chi. Instructors use a special teaching method, which breaks the movements down into small, simple steps. Students often say this method helps them succeed in learning Tai Chi, even if they have had difficulty with other movement classes. 

Deepening Workshop (Advanced)

This workshop is open to students who have completed the Introduction Workshop. Classes meet for one hour twice a week, for 8 weeks. With a deepening workshop, you can continue to build on your skills to fine tune the movements themselves, as well as to begin to incorporate the essential tai chi principles. One the tai chi movements themselves become familiar to you, your practice can take on a whole new depth, and you can focus on other essential aspects of tai chi including slow movement, the importance of group practice for increasing energy, and experiencing “moving meditation.

To receive the full benefit of Tai Chi, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that participants attend 50 hours of programming, or approximately two 11-week sessions.

Registration and Suggested Donation

Tai Chi for Health and Balance Introduction is a suggested donation of $110 per 11-week session (22 classes).

Returning students:  Introduction classes are a suggested donation of $90 per 11-week session and Deepening classes are a suggested donation of $75 per 8-week session. 

Find and register for virtual tai chi programs being offered by SMAA and other organizations throughout Maine on the Healthy Living for ME calendar.