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MAYS LANDING - On June 10, the Mays Landing Branch of the Atlantic County Library System became even more peaceful with the start of a 10-week introduction course to the ancient art of Tai Chi.

“Tai Chi is about meditation and motion,” said Tai Chi instructor John Mazetis, who has been teaching Tai Chi around South Jersey for about four years but has been practicing the art form off and on since being introduced to it in 1988.

Despite the slow and constant movement, Tai Chi is actually an ancient Chinese martial arts form that focuses on energy.

“Chi is an internal energy,” said Mazetis. Tai Chi is best done barefoot and it is even better if it is done in nature. However, this course is being held on the library’s second floor.

According to Mazetis, most of the people who come to his classes are seeking help with their balance but they also come for other ailments such as arthritis.

“It’s a health-orientated class” said Mazetis, who says a Tai Chi program can be tailored to the individual.

Mazetis himself has experienced the health benefits of Tai Chi.

“I broke my back and was told that I would never walk again without crutches or an apparatus.” Mazetis said. He tried various forms of physical therapy. He was even put into traction at one point and told not to move.

“They gave me a big bottle of pills and told me to take them for the pain,” Mazetis said. However, he said he refused to become addicted to painkillers and threw the pills away.

“There had to be a better way,” he said.

Then one day at physical therapy, someone introduced Mazetis to Tai Chi.

He went from from walking on two crutches to one within two to three months after beginning the practice, Mazetis said. As he continued to practice the art form, he was eventually able to walk on his own without any kind of assistance. Looking at Mazetis today, it would be impossible to tell that he ever suffered from such a severe back injury as he appears to move with ease.

After the hour-long class, where participants performed moves with names such as the turtle and the tiger, there was an air of calm in the room.

“The flow, the lightness. I think it will do a lot to calm me down and comfort me” said participant Gloria Glass after the class.

The 10-week course is being held at 10 a.m. on Saturdays at the Mays Landing Branch of the ACLS. The class will be off on July 1 but will resume the following week. Registration, which can be made online or in-person, is required, along with a $25 fee that covers the entire program. For information about instructor John Mazetis and where he teaches, go to Heaven and Earth Energy Healing on Facebook.

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