Tai chi in southern Vermont

REGION – Radiating warmth, Djemila Cavanaugh said, “My first tai chi class focused on the middle of the foot and how to be centered. I thought, ‘This is what I need.’”

Despite need, Cavanaugh dropped out of class. Tai chi conflicted with a mandatory class for translation, the subject she’d gone to Germany to study. A decade later, after studying translation in Paris, she found tai chi again in her hometown of Lyon, France. Now in her early 30’s, she was ready for the practice.

“I fell in love with tai chi. … Embracing what is coming, relaxing into what comes,” Cavanaugh said.

Tai chi is a martial art. Cavanaugh studied the Cheng Man-ching tradition. Passionate about sharing this art, she became a teacher. Her mom came to her classes when she taught in Lyon. Cavanaugh said she found it a nice change to move to Brattleboro with a lot going on, the perks of a big city without being big city.

Her only regret is distance from her mother, who is only 73 but has Parkinson’s. Tai chi helped her mom, but now no class is in a convenient location. Cavanaugh spoke of a friend, James, who uses a combination of tai chi, fast walking, and core exercises to treat symptoms of his Parkinson’s Disease. “He’s walking like a teen ager now!” Cavanaugh smiled.

Doctors recommend tai chi. Cavanaugh writes of tai chi: “Improve your alignment, balance, looseness and awareness through a soft practice rooted in the Taoist tradition opening the gate to health benefits, self-defense, and a spiritual path.”

She first communicated with Patrick Cavanaugh via email about a tai chi web journal.  She translated the journal from English to French. He edited. They met in person at a tai chi workshop led by Wolfe Lowenthal in Amherst, Mass., in 2013. Patrick led a tai chi workshop in Toulouse, France, in 2014. They fell in love. They married. Both travel to share tai chi.

Cavanaugh explains that with more sparse population, they travel to people. Patrick teaches in Burlington, Montpelier, Norwich, Walpole, and Keene. Gail Mann opened her yoga studio in Londonderry and sought out Djemila for tai chi to add diversity. Denise Gebroe asked her to teach in Cavendish.

In April she’ll offer a Friday morning and Tuesday evening class in Winhall. Find her on FaceBook at Djem’s Tai Chi Classes, email at djem.translator@gmail.com, or call 802-490-0225 for info.

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