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Updated 3:46pm - Apr 15, 2014

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T'ai chi good for mind, body

Gail Brotherhood: Teaching free T’ai Chi class is a way to serve the community.
Gail Brotherhood: Teaching free T’ai Chi class is a way to serve the community. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Editor’s note: The Senior Sleuth is published every two weeks.

This is a different kind of detective series in that I’m not solving crimes. Rather I’m tracking organizations, groups and individuals who contribute greatly to the community, especially in the areas of health, healing, nutrition, fitness, drug prevention and recovery.

In the first episode I reported on the fabulous Sandi Morrison, owner of HASP, Humboldt Addictive Services Program and Jordan Recovery (1231 Northcrest Drive, 464-7849).

Today I’m on the trail of Gail Brotherhood, gifted T’ai Chi Chiu instructor at the Methodist Church.  She sheds her light and spirit of gratitude by offering her free class every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. She said she wants to give back to this caring community.  

According to Gail, “It is impossible for me to isolate instances of kindness and caring in the community because it happens to me every day.  Wherever I go in our community, I find friendly, caring people.  

“My church family, neighbors, store clerks, friends, acquaintances, people who work in the local government or utility offices, restaurant staff, people at my bank and credit union, my veterinarian and his staff ... it seems that everyone is caring and more than willing to visit or lend help if and/or when it is needed. So I decided a free T’ai Chi Chiu class would benefit the community I love, especially the seniors.”

Gail’s testimony, as quoted, is as uplifting as the class itself. She said each class she teaches is a tribute to her master teacher, the late Hope Ridley of San Mateo.

She is also involved in another outreach ministry to seniors through the Methodist Church. Her group provides worship services every Sunday to assisted living facilities in the area, two in Brookings and at Addie Meedom House in Crescent City.  

This enlightened T’ai Chi teacher moved here from San Mateo in 2004 after the death of her mother at age 99.  Her step-mother, Marylee Smith, owns Trees of Mystery. And the Brotherhood Tree at the Trees of Mystery is named after her dad.

T’ai Chi is said to be good for both body and mind. It’s been called “Meditation in Motion.” It involves slow, deliberate, integrated movements that improve balance and awareness.

The continuous, relaxed and repetitive movements enhance flexibility, increase lower body strength, and are very easy on the joints. The long, slow breaths that are part of  T’ai Chi resemble the way we breathe when asleep and generate a sense of peace.

And being part of a group has therapeutic value for many medical conditions.

As part of my investigation, I spoke with a “witness,” one of the six to nine students who normally attend the class.  Gale Steelman, a designer for the Triplicate advertising department, likes the gentle, low-impact invigoration and calming effect she receives.  She’s been attending the class for three or four months. In addition to T’ai Chi, she walks on the beach a lot, as well as hiking while photographing nature.

As part of my investigation, I attended two T’ai Chi classes. I found them rejuvenating!

As I mentioned in my previous column, I am 78, and I’m trying to learn everything I can to beat back the clock. (Contact me if there is an activity you want to learn about.)

After class, Gail e-mailed me a detailed description of how I could improve my balance. Then it dawned on me that I shouldn’t have taken the class barefooted. I had my right hip replaced three years ago, and as a result my right leg is a little longer than my left. So I wear a lift in my left shoe. Next time I’ll keep my shoes on.

End of investigation. As they say at the end of T’ai Chi class, “Namaste.”

Reach Joan Miles at 464-2729 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 


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