Tai chi has become the key to health and happiness for Bill Sanders, who at 81 is teaching it to seniors at Bolton Clarke’s Fairways retirement village.
While meditation and yoga have become trendy among the younger generation, the 81-year-old and the seniors he instructs in tai chi twice weekly are proof you don’t need to be young to take up the practice and reap the mindful benefits.
In fact, having practised tai chi since 2005 and taught for 11 years, Bill could probably give the younger generation some pointers, but that’s not what drives him.
Bill said he was passionate about serving his community and supporting seniors like him to stay engaged, in good health and with a thriving social life.
“Looking after my health is very important to me,” he said.
“It’s the reason my wife and I do tai chi – and it’s a good social activity as well as good for our health because we can go out as a group or gather for morning tea after classes.”
Bill volunteers teaching tai chi, and the even more gentle shibashi flow exercises at both his home at Bolton Clarke’s Fairways retirement village and at the Bundaberg U3A.
“You’re never too old to learn something new,” Bill said.
“Shibashi is a gentle, standing form of tai chi. You move around a bit less. It’s what we practice on Saturday mornings in our class at Fairways.
“It’s great for anyone who might have limited mobility and is great for breathing and balance and it’s a very relaxing way to exercise, which is extremely helpful for all of us right now.”
Bill said the exercise form becomes meditative because focusing on the movements helps to quieten your mind, which he said has been helpful during the current pandemic.
“I’ve made lots of new friends as a result because new people come to the classes all the time,” he said.
It was a natural progression for Bill from personal practice to teacher and when he and his wife Mary moved into Fairways Retirement Village two years ago, it seemed only natural to start sharing his knowledge with his neighbours.
“We’ve always liked it here,” he said.
“Mary’s mother lived in the residential aged care community for three and a half years, so we were familiar with that side, and with the village and when we looked at moving, it seemed the perfect choice.”
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