COLUMBIA — About 40 students gathered at the Armory Sports and Recreation Center for a free tai chi lesson Wednesday morning.
Instructor Kenny Greene knows all of their names. Most of the students, he said, have been coming to his class for more than a year.
Tai chi is a form of exercise derived from an ancient Chinese tradition, according to the Mayo Clinic's website. It involves slow movements and deep breathing.
Some people, such as Rebecca Smith, 60, practice tai chi for its meditative benefits. She said she began practicing many years ago at MU's Fortnightly Club and then began taking Greene's classes at the recreation center.
Other students practice tai chi for its health benefits.
John Gage, 60, began practicing tai chi and similar forms of Chinese martial arts 10 years ago to fight high blood pressure. He said practice has made him more confident and less afraid of falling, and he has benefited from its meditative properties.
"You become centered and balanced, and by becoming centered and balanced, you are capable of doing more things," Gage said.
Free tai chi classes are available at the center, located on Ash Street, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays.
Supervising editor is Caroline Bauman.