Tai Chi: a morning routine fit for the president

Tai Chi: a morning routine fit for the president

The dreaded sound of an alarm goes off before the birds are even awake.

Most would hit snooze and try to get a few more minutes of sleep before starting their day.

But that’s not the case for Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus.

“I honestly roll out of bed in a good mood because I like this part of my day so much,” Stoltzfus said.

“It’s one of my favorite times of the day.”

President Stoltzfus had always wanted to create a better morning routine for herself so she did just that.

The structure of her mornings are simple: brew coffee, do her Tai Chi, light a candle or start up the fireplace, drink coffee in her favorite chair (refusing to do anything until she sees the bottom of the mug), and finally, write in her journal.

“I typically get the coffee started and then do Tai Chi and when I come back the coffee is done so that works out well,” Stoltzfus said. “Having it integrated with a cup of coffee is really nice because otherwise, what else are you going to do while you wait?”

Tai Chi has been a part of Stoltzfus’ morning routine for the past seven years, after she and her husband, Kevin Miller, started the journey together.

“I was kind of aware of Tai Chi for a while,” Stoltzfus said when asked about how she got introduced to it.

On their thirtieth wedding anniversary, the couple stayed in a cottage in Canada where one of their goals was to start practicing it.

“We checked out a video from the library and that whole week we learned together this Tai Chi routine which was focused on morning chi,” she said.

What started off as a simple goal has become an integral part of the couple’s mornings.

Over the years, Stoltzfus has added on to her morning Tai Chi flow by incorporating her own unique and personal touch: the Lord’s Prayer.

“I sort of created my own prayer motions to the Lord’s Prayer,” she says.

It’s not only what she does during her morning Tai Chi sessions, it’s the environment in which she performs her routine.

“Tai Chi is something people do outdoors, under the sky if at all possible,” she said.

“It’s trying to let breath and clean energy flow through you and it’s easier to get that feeling outdoors than indoors.”

Stoltzfus has had the opportunity to do her Tai Chi routine in a variety of different settings throughout the past few years.

“There’s a place in Southern India that I’ve traveled repeatedly, and I love the mornings there,” Stoltzfus said in response to her favorite Tai Chi moments from around the world.

“It was in a really hilly part of India and you could look out over the houses and there was a tea growing area,” she said. “I love doing Tai Chi in that setting.”

Stoltzfus has noticed many benefits of routinely doing Tai Chi, both physically and mentally.

“It’s really easy for me to get tight and stiff in my neck and shoulders so I’ve noticed that’s better for me both in posture and flexibility.”

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Written by Camryn Kopta, Contributing Writer

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