T a i C h i

Staff photos by Gage Cureton Pam Krzmarzick, a certified tai chi and qi gong instructor, leads a “Tai Chi for Arthritis” class in New Ulm Wellness Collective’s “Fire Room.”

NEW ULM – Pam Krzmarzick, a certified tai chi and qi gong instructor at the New Ulm Wellness Collective, said she sees herself as more of a facilitator than a teacher.

“I call myself a student too,” she said. “More so than a teacher.”

Krzmarzick teaches tai chi and qi gong classes at the Wellness Collective on Tuesdays. She’s one of many qualified health and wellness practitioners that operate out of one building to support the self-care of the community.

The New Ulm Wellness Collective, a conglomerate of instructors and wellness counselors, offers daily classes and wellness services that include different variations of yoga, pilates, life-coaching, spiritual direction and massage and body work.

Krzmarzick said she’s taught tai chi and qi gong classes at the collective for two years while also managing MVAC Thrift and More on South Broadway St. With experience studying art history and dance at the College of St. Benedict’s and St. John’s in Joseph, Minn., she said teaching tai chi and qi gong is a great fit for her because of her lifelong interest in movement and body kinetics.

In Pam Krzmarzick’s “Tai Chi for Arthritis” class, students practice tai chi and qi gong movements guided by Krzmarzick’s voice and direction.

She said with the growing popularity of yoga attributed to its health benefits, tai chi is also gaining more attention from people seeking healthy lifestyles.

“With the whole global interchange that we have, tai chi is becoming more well-known and accepted,” she said. “I think a lot of people are familiar with yoga but not a lot of people are familiar with tai chi and their beginning to become more familiar with it.”

According to the Mayo Health Clinic’s website, tai chi originally developed for self-defense, but has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.

“It’s definitely a mind-body practice,” Krzmarzick said. “So that by doing the slow controlled movements and focusing on the breath and focusing on being present, you’re making your body slow down. It’s a way of helping to learn mindfulness.”

Krzmarzick said practicing tai chi and qi gong is a tool that can help relieve the stress and mental pressures that come with every day life. She said tai chi and qi gong are an effective means for personal reflection and meditation.

In Pam Krzmarzick’s “Tai Chi for Arthritis” class, students practice tai chi and qi gong movements guided by Krzmarzick’s voice and direction.

“Tai chi and qi gong, apart from their benefits of exercising the muscles and helping to work with balance and all the other physical benefits it has; it has this ability like meditation does to really allow you to turn off that business of your mind for a short period of time which is extremely healing,” she said.

Krzmarzick said students, herself included, may sometimes achieve an inner peace or serenity of the mind when they practice tai chi.

“Being able to periodically touch that level is something that has been magical for me,” she said. “It’s only happened a handful of times, but it’s enough for you to want to continue to reach for that.”

Kappy Schladweiler, a student of Krzmarzick’s class since January 2018, said she feels more limber and at ease since she started going to classes.

“I think this is very meditative,” she said. “You come in and she talks nice and soft and goes through relaxing exercises and you forget the outside world for a while.”

In Pam Krzmarzick’s “Tai Chi for Arthritis” class, students practice tai chi and qi gong movements guided by Krzmarzick’s voice and direction.

Ruth Aufderheide, a student with chronic foot pain, said she tai chi has carried over into other aspects of her life and has helped mitigate her foot issues.

“This has helped tremendously because now when I walk, I’m thinking about where my feet are,” she said. “It’s also crossed over into my work. When I’m there I find myself putting my feet in the proper stance.”

Krzmarzick said she plans to expand her knowledge of tai chi and qi gong and eventually gain more certifications to teach other variations. She said she enjoys assisting students with their health and well-being while also being a part of a group of professional women that seek to contribute to the health and wellness of the community.

“It’s not just the tai chi and the qigong,” she said. “I like being a part of the collective because it’s full of like-minded women who value and appreciate wellness.”

For more information on New Ulm Wellness Collective, visit their web site, https://www.newulmwell.com/.

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