Health and Wellness

Tai Chi at Holy FamilyYinYang5-sml-rgb


Name: Paul Semanic Email:



 Click on each header for more information.

What Is Tai Chi

Tai Chi is rooted in Kung Fu and was first created as a martial art in the Shaolin Temples of China.  Today, Tai Chi is practiced mainly for its health benefits.  In this FREE class we talk about guiding the energy with the mind as it was originally taught.  This is the golden nugget of Tai Chi.  The mind concentrates on very specific ways to increase the quantity and quality of Chi (energy) in the body.  Tai Chi has many wonderful benefits: it improves health and metabolism, it reduces stress and anxiety, and it increases concentration, strength, energy and power.

In order to make your Tai Chi strong you must first understand the theory of your practice which is based on Yin/Yang philosophy.  The Yin/Yang philosophy is represented by this Symbol YinYang5-sml-rgb.  It’s a picture of how things work together; how things change and exist in relationship to each other.

What is Chi Gong?

Let’s break it down – Chi Gong (translation: energy work) is a simpler form of Tai Chi.  Chi Gong is the practice of coordinating body and breath in a meditation of simple, repetitive graceful movements that are designed to enhance the body’s natural ability to heal itself.  This involves leading your Chi with your mind through slow, deep and relaxed breathing. Eventually these simple movement patterns are pieced together to make longer, more complex patterns known as Tai Chi.

There are hundreds of different of Chi Gong exercises that have been created over three thousand years but they can be grouped into three categories: Sitting, Standing and Moving, all of which are practiced as meditations.  In order to build concentration with various breathing strategies, it is logical that sitting meditation is good place to start because it is easier to learn one thing at a time and then add to it.


About the Heart of Chi Workshop

We meet on Monday nights – see the Schedule and Location section for specific dates.  See the Registration section for workshop logistics (and please register so we know how many people to expect).

You will receive a handout at each workshop which details the activities for that evening.

We encourage families (of all ages) to attend together – this will be a great benefit for everyone!

In these Heart of Chi workshops we bring clarity and confidence in your abilities by explaining the whowhatwherewhenwhy, and how of training techniques.  This will inspire confidence, patience and a joyful curiosity in your daily practice.

Learn who can train, and the advantages and disadvantages for ages 14-18, 19-30, 31-45, 45+.
Learn how to reduce stress and anxiety, clear your mind and improve your outlook on life.
Learn what techniques to use to: warm up and loosen the joints, torso, organs, and waist, build your chi belt, meditate and focus the mind for Chi Gong and Tai Chi forms.
 what science is calling your second brain… the Chinese name is “Dan Tien”.
Learn where your “Dan Tien” (your battery) is located.
Learn how to store Chi in your “Dan Tien,” your energy field.
Learn how to condition your second brain and train it for mental strength and power.
Learn why the Science of the Breath is so important in Tai Chi training.
Learn how to regulate the body, breathing, mind, chi (energy) and spirit.
Learn when the best times of the day and night are for meditation.

Schedule and Location

The Fall Session meets on Mondays, starting September 29 through November 17, in the Multitorium.

Each session begins at 7:00pm – it’s always good to arrive early to sign in and receive and read hand outs – The Workshop ends at 8:15pm for beginners and 8:30 for intermediates.

We meet in the Multitorium at Holy Family Church located at 2515 Palatine Rd, Inverness, IL.
Holy Family is east of Barrington Rd and west of Ela Rd on the south side of the street.

The workshop is free and the instructor receives no compensation.  In the spirit of “paying it forward” we request a $5 donation (per class) to a wonderful organization called “A.R.T.S. – Arts Refreshing The Soul”.  There will be a box at the sign-in table.  So far we have donated just under $5000 to A.R.T.S. which has helped many women and children.  Please visit their website for more information:


To register send an email to and include the names of all attendees and your phone number.

Please note the following:

  • Arrive 15 -20 minutes early so you can sign in and read through the materials and start to become familiar with the program for that evening.
  • You do not need to stay the entire time. We cover more advanced topics as the evening progresses and you are welcome to participate or observe as long as you’d like.
  • Ages 14+ are welcome and families are encouraged to attend together.
  • Wear flat shoes (or stocking feet is fine – the room is carpeted).  Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes so you can breathe deep and move freely.
  • Weather permitting we may move into the courtyard after everyone signs in.
  • Click on and type your email address in the box on the right of the screen to subscribe and receive our blog posts via email.
  • If you are on Facebook and Twitter, please like and follow “Heart of Chi” – click on Links to quickly locate those pages.  Be part of the Chi Community and inspire others as they inspire us!

Testimonials from students who practice Tai Chi /Chi Gong every day:

  • “Having studied yoga for 30 years, I know the importance of a great instructor.  I appreciate your instructions on the nuances of each movement balanced with the breath.  It’s amazing how helpful just 10 min a day increases your well being.  More energy for the day. Your devotion to Chi is commendable!”  Marilyn C.
  • “Since starting Tai Chi/Chi Gong this past spring I have come to enjoy a more peaceful start to my day. Paul, our instructor, has made incorporating the movements easily into our lives with a routine taking only 10 minutes a day. I really have noticed a change in my stress levels and mental attitude since starting class. Thank you Paul!”  J.S.
  • “I found when I meditate for 10 minutes before I start The 8 Brocades exercise… the slow movements become much more natural… and the experience is 10 times richer.”
  • “I’m now off my high blood pressure medication with my Doctor’s approval.”
  • “I no longer need cortisone injections in my feet for my Plantar Fasciitis.”
  • “My legs are much stronger now and I can stand on one leg.”
  • “I feel one of the benefits I have had is that Tai Chi has improved my balance.”   Donna B.
  • “I always sleep so much better after class, it’s amazing how rested I feel!”

It’s important to stay connected and up-to-date on information shared in class.  However, it is also beneficial to receive information shared outside of class.  Please connect with “Heart of Chi” in as many ways as possible, and watch for emails.  If you use social media feel free to share our posts so others can benefit from learning about Chi and perhaps even join our workshops.  Chi is most effective in a community – the more the merrier!

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Our donations help this wonderful organization called “Arts Refreshing The Soul”

If you have any questions please send an email to




Fun Stuff: Lessons, Quotes, and Practice Tips

Read a little Taoism (dow-ism). Taoism is an underlying philosophy of Tai Chi as well as other Martial Arts and health practices.  It is a way of looking at the world harmoniously, advocating simplicity and selflessness.  It can bring more strength to your faith, enhance your Tai Chi practice and give you a solid understanding of Yin/Yang theory.  A very simple and profound yet very fun book (and one of my favorites) is Benjamin Hoff’s ”The Tao of Pooh” (remember Winnie the Pooh?).  A more direct source to Taoist philosophy is “Tao Te Ching”, translated by Stephan Mitchell.  A recording of the “Tao Te Ching” is also nice to listen to as it brings another voice to add to your thoughts.

Review the idea often that Tai Chi is something that starts in your mind to train your body through breathing strategies that are led by your spirit.

Wu Wei (woo- way) translates into something like “effortless effort” or “do without doing”.  When Americans exercise they go all out (physically) but with Tai Chi we want the mind to be the focus of the exercise and be led by the spirit; the body will follow.  So, we do less with the body (than Americans might think exercise ought to be) but keep the light on ☺ and always smile inside.  Your cells will literally have a better vibration.

Discover yourself.  Truly studying Tai Chi is a study in Philosophy, Art and Sport which will give you a completely different background on which to see yourself, anew!

A couple of quotes from Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching” translated by Stephan Mitchell:

Gently Overcome the Rigid… “Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.  The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid. Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice.  Therefore the Master remains serene in the midst of sorrow.”

Be Soft and Yielding … “Men are born soft and supple.  Plants are born tender and pliant.  Whoever is soft and yielding as a disciple of life.  The hard and stiff will be broken.  The soft and supple will prevail.”

Patience, always practice Patience:  In Tai Chi, Patience is most important.  It is a virtue of the heart,   where you keep your Inner Smile which is grounded in patience, love and gratitude.

Spirit –The roots of your spirit must be strong and rooted in will, patience and endurance.

Tai Chi is a cumulative thing.  You will feel changes right away but the real stuff happens over time with everyday practice; Kung Fu, what a joy!

Live Slowly… Life is so short that it must be lived slowly.
– Buddhist saying

Begin your Journey with One Step.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step.
– Various Taoist and Buddhist sources

About the Instructor

Draw a Bow in Mexico

Paul Semanic has been studying Tai Chi for over 30 years with Master Xu, Master Guo, Master Chia, Dr. Yang, Dr. Kuhn in Chicago, Knoxville, Boston and Santa Cruz, CA.  He is a Certified Instructor by the New England School of Tai Chi and he has taught at many churches, park districts and senior centers as well as at Alexian Brothers Medical Center for their “Mended Hearts” program and for cancer patient rehabilitation programs. ​ He created “Heart of Chi” in 2007 and now leads workshops in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.  He is a lifelong student of Tai Chi and spends hours every day studying and practicing meditation and movement.

Volunteer Opportunities

If you would like to Volunteer* to help promote this class to the parish and/or the community at large, or help with logistics please *contact Paul Semanic  at

The Heart of Chi Mission, at Holy Family is a mission that shares many things with two other missions at Holy Family Parish.

  1. To Engage All In The Sacramental Life Through Vibrant Worship, Lifelong Learning and Passionate Community. I am particularity passionate aboutLife; it’s sacred. I am particularity passionate about Our Community; it’s where our children grow up. I am particularity passionate about Lifelong Learning; it’s where we find truth “if we continue in His way” and my prayer and worship is my mission. I envision a new consciousness regarding our nation’s health, not only through meditation and Tai Chi but also by taking back our basic rights to a whole and healthy life. The medical society is changing their paradigm, shifting from trying to cure this huge epidemic of major diseases in our country (cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, arthritis etc.) to *prevention*. Why? It’s costing too much money to cure all the diseases that today’s food and lifestyle is causing. The smartest way to *prevention *is start young by increasing our awareness of what really matters, so we may enjoy the privilege of not only growing old, but growing old and wise, as we were meant to be.
  2. The Heart of Chi Mission* has raised over $5300 for A.R.T.S. (Arts Refreshing the Soul) A.R.T.S. provides safety to women of domestic violence and a learning environment for their children with a wonderfully creative approach… using musical instruments, one of my passions. The PURPOSE of A.R.T.S. is to spark the creative spirit of women and children in need to reclaim their hopeful, joyful and creative voice by introducing the arts—music, art and dance—into their everyday lives. For more information about *A.R.T.S. *go to