Ralph Somack is a Tai Chi and Pa Kua (Ba Gua) practitioner based in Oakland. He is a retired PhD chemist with 30 years of Tai Chi experience. Ralph teaches Tai Chi and Pa Kua at 3 Satellite Affordable Housing Associates Senior living centers and has taught at the South Berkeley Senior Center, Piedmont Gardens assisted living center, St. Joseph’s retirement residence and Brookdale in Naples, Florida. Ralph is a former student of Tai Chi Grand Master Y-C Chiang and is Board Certified by the Tai Chi for Health Institute to teach Paul Lam’s Sun style Tai Chi program for Arthritis and Fall Prevention. This is an evidence-based method approved by the US and Australian Arthritis Foundations and the CDC. He is passionate about teaching Tai Chi to help people live healthier, less stressful lives by focusing on fundamental Tai Chi and Qi Gong principles of movement, body awareness, alignment and mental focus. He also enjoys windsurfing.
Tai Chi for Arthritis & Fall Prevention
9 -10AM Tuesdays
This is an evidence-based method approved by the US and Australian Arthritis Foundations and the CDC. Participants will learn and practice the Tai Chi program developed by Dr. Paul Lam of the Tai Chi Institute and sanctioned by the Arthritis Foundation, the National Council for Aging and the CDC to benefit people with arthritis and balance issues and shown to: 1. Improve physical condition, muscle strength, coordination and flexibility 2. Improve balance and decrease the risk of falls 3. Ease pain and stiffness, for example, from osteoarthritis 4. Improve sleep and enhance overall wellness, 5. Reduce stress and develop tranquility, inner balance and empowerment. This program consists of a set of gentle QiGong warm up exercises combined with the first 12 movements of the powerful Sun style Tai Chi system. No previous Tai Chi experience is required and the course is open to all ages and varying abilities, and is wheelchair friendly.
Pa Kua is an internal Chinese martial art based on the Daoist principles of the I Ching, combining Tai Chi with the ancient spiritual practice of circle walking. Circle walking develops body posture and structure, teaches us to focus the mind, body and spirit and is a relaxing, excellent form of meditation. Pa Kua (or Ba Gua) is characterized by changing directions while holding various static postures with the upper body and executing various “palm changes” done in a smooth and flowing manner likened to a “Dragon soaring in the clouds”. Each part of the body coordinates with every other, generating the maximum amount of power available relative to the individual’s size and weight. Participants will learn the basics of Pa Kua, including a set of Qi Gong warm up exercises, the Chinese Tea Cup exercise, the “Mud-Walking” technique, the 8 animal form Circle Walking Exercises and the first four of the eight “Mother” Palm Changes. The focus is not on the martial arts applications but on exercise, health, mindfulness and of course, having fun! The course is open to all ages and varying abilities.