Lexi as the Grape Monkey

Lexi practicing the Grape Monkey move.

Questions and Answers

  • What is the Tai Chi Animal Frolics?
  • Who is it for?
  • Where and when can the Tai Chi Animal Frolics form be practiced?
  • Where has the Tai Chi Animal Frolics program been presented?
  • Why was the Tai Chi Animal Frolics created?
  • Why should people do this kind of movement?
  • Why do this particular form?
  • How is the Tai Chi Animal Frolics a “Program” and how can I use it?
  • How can you book a presentation or workshop?

What is the Tai Chi Animal Frolics?

The Tai Chi Animal Frolics is a simple Qigong (pronounced “Chee Gung”) movement form appropriate for people of any age. It is based on the principles of Tai Chi and is influenced by the flowing motion and playfulness of the ancient Chinese Animal Frolics, healthful movement patterns created nearly 2,000 years ago. Developed in 1993 for today’s busy lifestyle, the Tai Chi Animal Frolics is an introduction to a slower and calmer way of being and can be practiced in any setting where there is space to stand and be centered for just three minutes. It can be learned by children as young as two and a half and is equally appropriate for seniors. Everyone can benefit from this peaceful and soothing experience of moving with awareness, calm and self-control.

Who is it for?

  • Teachers: Classroom, physical education, health education, arts
  • Daycare educators and administrators
  • Seniors
  • Children
  • Families
  • Healthcare professionals, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists
  • Anyone who wants to learn basic movement and mindfulness skills and techniques

Where and When can the Tai Chi Animal Frolics form be practiced?

The Tai Chi Animal Frolics can be practiced anytime, anywhere. It is suitable for any space, whether indoors or outside. It can be incorporated into a classroom schedule or after a transition between classes, lunch or recess. In a work setting, it can be done in a small group; in an exercise room or even alone in a cubicle. It can be practiced by children and adults in healthcare settings.

Where  has the Tai Chi Animal Frolics program been presented?

Link to past presentations.

Why was the Tai Chi Animal Frolics created?

The Tai Chi Animal Frolics is a movement form that blends Tai Chi principles and body mechanics with movements inspired by the Animal Frolics or Five Animal Play of Hua To. Gerri created this fluid, peaceful and simple form to address the stressful lives of the students in her integrated arts classes at Hawthorne Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin. She believed that by practicing this form, even briefly, students would experience moments of self-control, focus and relief from stress and be more attentive and ready to learn. She was hopeful that this awareness would carry over into other aspects of their lives as well.

From her initial introduction of the Tai Chi Animal Frolics at Hawthorne in 1993 grew a deeper insight and discovery. By making connections to other areas of the curriculum, Gerri believed that the Tai Chi Animal Frolics would create a more meaningful and lasting educational experience that made sense to children and inspire them to want to learn and practice the form. Because it is grounded in the movement of animals (crane, bear, monkey, deer and tiger) and the sun, it appeals to the natural curiosity of children who are eager to learn about nature and the world around them. The program quickly evolved into an integrated arts and academic curricular model.  While the Tai Chi Animal Frolics form can be taught apart from such a model, its impact is much greater when presented in this holistic way.

Gerri’s approach has been to relate the Tai Chi Animal Frolics to language arts, science, social studies, math, art, music, dance and drama. Since 1993, she has been teaching in this integrated style and found it to be inspiring both to herself and the children she has had the privilege to teach.

Why should people do this kind of movement?

Moving like animals and the sun connects us with the intricate web of life on Earth, offering comfort and respect for ourselves and our planet. In the course of doing this movement, the body and mind begin to relax and be more fully present in each moment.

Over many centuries, countless numbers of people have experienced the benefits of such practice. With the slow pace of the Tai Chi Animal Frolics form, the body and mind become calm. The hurried rush and tension of our everyday lives briefly subside, enabling each of us to reconnect to the present moment and feel a sense of stability and balance. With practice, a habit of mindful calm is reinforced, allowing us to address the problems and stresses of life with greater wisdom.

Why do this particular form?

Because it is both simple and powerful, the Tai Chi Animal Frolics is accessible to people of any age. This form is much easier to learn than traditional Tai Chi and many other Qigong practices, while still retaining important Tai Chi and Qigong principles. It takes only a few minutes to perform and can be done anywhere and any time, whether in a classroom, community center, hospital, work environment or at home. It can be practiced by people who are interested in Tai Chi and want to explore its basic foundations or by those who just want to take a few moments to find respite from the intensity of modern life. No matter, the effects will be the same. Here are some of the words young children have used to describe their feelings after a short Tai Chi Animal Frolics experience: “calm”, “thankful”, “smoothed out”, “peaceful”, “happy”, “dropping everything from my mind”, “good thoughts going over bad thoughts”, “like water flowing through me” (Tai Chi Animal Frolics Residency, 2005, East Milton Elementary School, Milton, WI).

How is the Tai Chi Animal Frolics a “Program” and how can I use it?

The Tai Chi Animal Frolics fits into a broad curricular model. Of course, it can be learned and practiced just on its own. But for educational purposes and deeper learning, it is thought of as a springboard for connection to other subjects. In her workshops, Gerri shares methods and techniques to connect the Tai Chi Animal Frolics to many areas of the academic and arts curriculum. (Link to TCAF curricular connections)

How can I bring this program to my setting?

Have a workshop, class or residency.

Workshops and residencies can be designed for teachers, day care workers, healthcare professionals, children, seniors and families. They can be tailored to the needs of the group or organization. (Link to resume listing where it has been taught)

Workshop Content

  • Informational overview of the Tai Chi Animal Frolics program
  • Movement techniques and creative experiences with and without props to slow down both mind and body
  • Basic principles of Tai Chi
  • Various relaxation and mindfulness techniques
  • Identification and exploration of the natural movement of the five animals featured in the Tai Chi Animal Frolics form
  • Holding postures through improvising with shapes and freezes
  • Creative dramatic activities to deepen awareness of the body and develop a curiosity about the five animals in the form
  • Poetry and literature related to nature and the animals featured in this form
  • Simple Qigong movements and patterns for health related programs
  • Environmental issues and awareness related to this material
  • Use of this program in an integrated curriculum model
  • Use of the Tai Chi Animal Frolics DVD in your program.

Many other ideas and approaches can be incorporated into a workshop or residency through planning and discussion. Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *