Tai Chi: Realigning your life

With healthy living, exercise and eating right at the forefront of most people's minds, Carol Anne Gallagher had a head start.

Eighteen years ago, Gallagher's began learning the 108 movements in the Taoist Tai Chi.

"Tai Chi is an ancient form of exercise done for health improvement," she said. "People will often say it's moving meditation."

On Friday mornings as the sun slowly rises above the valley of Skaneateles Lake, Gallagher and her husband Joe Viscomi are joined by a handful of other dedicated community members at Clift Park.

There, in the solace of early morning, the group practices the motions of the Taoist Tai Chi -- slowly, efficiently and seemingly without effort.

"I started Tai Chi after a co-worker asked me if I would be interested. I was an athlete and had studied yoga for many years, so I thought why not," Gallagher said. "I was surprised and intrigued at the challenge of the movements. And who doesn't like to be challenged?"

Gallagher was also impressed by the diversity of people who practice -- young and old, sedentary and active, some healthy and others with medical conditions.

"It didn't matter. We were all there doing Tai Chi for our own well being, learning from each other and being accepting of our current situation," she said.

Virgil Switzer, an Owasco resident, has had one hip replaced and is planning for surgery on the other one, but Tai Chi has increased his sense of balance despite the pain he's experienced.

"I would recommend it to anyone who needs a form of exercise," Switzer said.

According to Gallagher, people frequently dismiss an achey back, hips and joints as "being old." Through Tai Chi, practitioners can realign their bodies and improve or maintain their health, and some even say goodbye to the aches and pains all together.

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