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'A moving meditation': St. Louisans use tai chi to bring peace, fight health problems

Tai chi is a martial art. But at this St. Louis association, it's not about the external fight, but rather, the internal one.

ST. LOUIS — Inside the century-old Monday Club, they practice a centuries-old ancient Chinese tradition. The Monday Club has been doing tai chi since 1979. They practice the Yang style short form, which has about 36 graceful transitions and moves, all done with meaning.

"It is very mindful and in purposeful way," said Shelley Shray, president of the St. Louis Tai Chi Association.

Positioning is important.

"It's absolutely critical," Shray added.

Even the movement of the hands is for a reason.

"We have what we call lady's beautiful hands… no tension in the wrist so that you can flow," Shray said.

Mastering the chi is what it's all about. Tai chi can help cultivate the energy that flows inside you. Controlling it helps bring peace.

"Tai chi has been characterized as a moving meditation," Shray said.

Bringing a self awareness that also works as a line of defense, tai chi is a martial art. But here, it's not about the external fight. Instead, the internal one.

"Many say they're here for health reasons," explained Shray.

Some people use tai chi to fight health problems.

"Harvard Medical School, Mayo Clinic, everybody has done, continues to do, studies on the benefits of tai chi," Shray said.

Tai chi, working from the inside out, keeping the student in the here and the now.

"You're fully present in that moment. Fully connected," said Shray.

A connection they say is good for the mind, body and the soul, a benefit in a sometimes hectic world.

"That's one of the things tai chi has going for you. You can always relax a little more."

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