RIT dean shares benefits of Tai Chi

A. Sue Weisler

Members of the RIT community learn Tai Chi from Yong “Tai” Wang, RIT dean of the College of Health Sciences and Technology.

RIT faculty and staff are learning the graceful slow movements of Tai Chi from a master martial artist and RIT’s dean of the College of Health Sciences and Technology.

Dean Yong “Tai” Wang introduced the class to Tai Chi over eight weeks at the Global Village fitness studio. Twelve to 15 faculty and staff from across campus attended the 30-minute session and learned a sequence of 24 different forms. Wang plans to offer the class again this semester for faculty and staff.

Jerrie Hsieh, associate professor in Saunders College of Business, learned Tai Chi with other members of RIT’s International Faculty Networking Group. “It has been a unique experience,” she said. “Many of us have noticed improved balance and ability to relax and feel peace of mind after practicing Tai Chi.”

Wang joined RIT in 2021 from the University of Texas at Tyler, where he regularly taught Tai Chi and trained students to teach the mind-body exercise on campus and in the community.

“I used to teach it at assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and senior centers, and people loved it,” Wang said. “Tai Chi combines stretching and relaxing movements. You tense and relax which are ‘Yang’ and ‘Yin’ components in Tai Chi practice. That’s why people feel great after the exercise.”

His research focuses on the biomechanics of rehabilitation and explores the benefits of Tai Chi among people with physical limitations. During his tenure at UT Tyler, Wang published a pilot study showing the advantages of combining Tai Chi and strength training. The study, funded by Paralyzed Veterans of America, focused on a weighted ball that separates into two halves and can be held in each hand without disrupting the Tai Chi flow. Wang and UT Tyler share a patent on the “Tai Chi Ball.” Wang said he is now looking for a manufacturer.

Wang sees the College of Health Sciences and Technology taking a more active role in promoting healthy living on campus and in the Rochester community. He is in discussion with the Greater Rochester Chapter of the Parkinson’s Foundation and the Rochester Spinal Association about conducting Tai Chi classes and future research collaborations after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think promoting community health is part of the responsibility of the College of Health Sciences and Technology at RIT” Wang said. “Providing service for the community also increases the visibility of our college and RIT in the future.”

For more information about the Tai Chi class this semester, contact Mary Morrison-Keyes at marpro@rit.edu. The class is free and limited to 15 faculty and staff.

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