Tomah VA Offering Tai Chi Classes

As part of their whole health initiative, the Tomah VA is now offering tai chi classes.


Fox 25/48's Zach Prelutsky was at a class Tuesday morning and has more on how it is helping veterans heal.


At the Tomah VA, a new class hopes to provide relief for veterans using an old method.


"I wanted to get more involved in whole health, I think it's such a great movement it's not something I had the opportunity to be involved in at other places where I’ve worked in the private sector," Said Janelle Ponder, a physical therapy assistant at the Tomah VA.   "I wanted to jump on board and tai chi was offered so I took the training and just saw that it could be applicable for so many of our veterans."


Through the new pain university, the Tomah VA has developed many different programs for veterans, like the ancient Chinese martial art.


"It's better than just stretching, than doing the normal calisthenics and whatnot and you know it's funnier.  You're trying to calm yourself, what's inside of you, look into your own body, feel where your pain is and work around it," said Glen Cook Jr. 


Cook began doing tai chi last fall, before classes were offered but joined on and has since become a regular participant. 


"In there, taking my feet off the ground, you know 6 months ago I couldn't do that.  You know, it's helped me a lot for like I said balance and you know just self confidence in myself," Cook Jr. said.


Standing tai chi classes at the Tomah VA, were first offered in January


Ponder says tai chi is more than just can help with depression and anxiety as well


"Veterans saying "oh I noticed that I was thinking about my breathing during this the other day when I was stressed out."  Or "I noticed that I changed the way I moved, instead of twisting through my spine I shifted my weight like we do in tai chi,"  


Along with a standing tai chi class that is offered once a week, there is also an adaptive seated version which is the first established in the nation.

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