ELLSWORTH — Practicing t’ai chi helps 85-year-old Eveline Thorsen keep good posture and stay steady on her feet. Exercise is essential to the retired Allen’s Blueberries bookkeeper, who guides people through a sequence of slow, gentle and deliberate movements in the free t’ai chi class held every Friday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the Beechland Road.
With orchestral music softly playing in the background, Eveline, Nancy Guy of Sedgwick, Margaret Patten of Ellsworth and Barbara Garfield of Hancock quietly execute the flowing motions that gradually become more strenuous. Save for Eveline, none of the women speak. All ears are attuned to their group leader’s cues telling them to “open up to the sky,” “push forward, gather the energy” and take other poses.
Originating in China 2000 years ago, t’ai chi is a dance-like form of exercise that incorporates breathing, meditation and slow movement. The ancient practice is distinguished by its mind-body connection.
In recent years, Tufts Medical Center and UCLA conducted clinical trials that found t’ai chi to be beneficial for relieving symptoms of depression and chronic conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Sedgwick resident Nancy Guy, a regular in the hourlong Friday class, says t’ai chi keeps her limber. “I feel so good when I leave here,” she related. “I have some back issues.”
Eveline Thorsen’s class meets at 9:30 a.m. on Fridays at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the Beechland Road in Ellsworth. Free classes also are taught by Bruce Clark at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesdays at Ellsworth City Hall. Starting Jan. 8, a free class will be led by Heidi Eagleton at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Winter Harbor Masonic Hall.