Tai Chi: Breathing Fresh Life and Positive Energy into the BTV Wellness Program

For over ten years, Tai Chi has consistently topped the list of the most popular Butterfield fitness classes. The original class began after BTV Wellness Director Jennifer Neill received certification in “Tai Chi Easy,” a method developed by Dr. Roger Jahnke. Practicing as an Oriental Medical Doctor (OMD) for nearly 40 years, Jahnke’s specialized technique helps to make Tai Chi simple, fun and beneficial without requiring years to learn the form. The program is designed to help people dealing with chronic pain or limited mobility – and those looking for a great introduction to learning Tai Chi.

Seeing the popularity and benefits of Tai Chi classes grow on the BTV campus, Jennifer sought additional instruction and began learning another option, known as the “8 Brocades.” Also called “Ba Duan Jin,” the 8 Brocades is one of the most popular Qigong practices and dates back nearly a millennium to China’s Song Dynasty. Pronounced “Chee Gong,” Qigong is a system of physical exercises and breathing control related to Tai Chi. Among the numerous benefits of practicing the 8 Brocades are improved energy, strength, flexibility, balance and coordination.

Responding to BTV residents’ strong interest in Tai Chi and Qigong, Jennifer expanded the class schedule by adding a second Tai Chi class centered on the most popular “Yang Tai Chi 24 Form.” Following her study with local instructor Terry Condren, Jennifer has taught residents this new form since early 2024. Starting in July, Butterfield’s wellness program will grow to feature a daily Yang Tai Chi 24 Form practice.

The first Tai Chi Easy-style class at Butterfield that inspired such participation has undergone an overhaul this summer, following Jennifer’s return to train with her original instructor, Dr. Jahnke. With the benefit of nine research and study trips to institutes, sacred temples and mountain sites in China, Jahnke’s personal experience led him to found and direct training and research at the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC). Over the years, he has taught more than a thousand Qigong and Tai Chi teachers and practice leaders. Jennifer has begun integrating what she has learned to enhance BTV’s original Tai Chi class in fresh, challenging ways since recently completing Jahnke’s Integral Qigong and Tai Chi teacher training.

In its various forms and practices, Tai Chi provides numerous health advantages tailor-made for the needs of seniors. Gentle, low-impact exercises improve posture, flexibility and strength crucial for maintaining mobility and preventing falls. Tai Chi also fosters relaxation, reduces stress and improves breathing – and promotes a meditative aspect to enhance mental clarity and sharpness that ultimately combats cognitive decline.

Class Schedule

Tai Chi/Qigong Tuesday/Thursday
9:45 a.m. in the Lodge

Yang Tai Chi 24 Form Lessons
Monday 9:30 a.m. in
the Convocation Room

Yang Tai Chi 24 Form Daily Practice
(15 minutes)
8:00 a.m. in the
Aquatic Center Gym