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Discovering Harmony Through Tai Chi: A Journey of Mind, Body, and Community with Barbara Alderson

March 15, 2024

A smiling woman with silver hair wearing a scarf, sitting by a window with a view of greenery outside.
CARD Tai Chi Instructor Barbara Alderson

Chico Area Recreation & Park District (CARD) has a long history of offering youth and adult recreational classes, some spanning decades. These classes owe much of their success to the remarkable instructors who make them possible. Meet Tai Chi instructor Barbara Alderson, who has been teaching seniors at CARD in Tai Chi for the last 24 years. Barbara graciously shares her insights into the transformative power of Tai Chi, revealing how the physical activity can lead to a journey of self-discovery and communal bonds.

In addition to the physical benefits, Tai Chi has led to deeply positive changes in the life of this dedicated instructor. Reflecting on her journey, she traces her introduction to Tai Chi, a gentle yet profound martial art renowned for its holistic approach to health and well-being.

"It all started back when I was in my 40s looking for an exercise class," Barbara reminisces. "That's when I stumbled upon Tai Chi. That class was taught by Suzanne Roth through CARD, and Suzanne was the person who taught me and mentored me as a new teacher. She insisted that I teach, saying I was ready and needed to do it both for other people and to grow myself.”

People practicing tai chi in a hall with wooden interiors.
Students practice Tai Chi at the CARD Community Center.

Drawn to its slow movements and meditative qualities, Barbara found Tai Chi to be a great physical exercise and it offered a holistic experience that resonated with her on a profound level.

Her journey into teaching Tai Chi began modestly, starting with sessions for Butte County Behavioral Health before joining forces with CARD. Over the years, Barbara has witnessed the growth and progress of her students, forming deep connections within the Tai Chi community.

One student, Yuri, stands out in Barbara's memory for her captivating presence and graceful movements. Yuri’s embodiment of Tai Chi principles served as an inspiration to everyone in the class, leaving a lasting impression on Barbara and her students alike. “Her movement and insights enriched our practice, embodying the essence of Tai Chi,” said Barbara.

Two people practicing Tai Chi in a spacious room with large windows and wooden floors.
Barbara Alderson instructing students in Tai Chi

For Barbara, Tai Chi is about the physical practice and its underlying philosophy — the integration of mind, body, and spirit, a way of approaching life with balance. It’s about finding joy in the journey and embracing the harmony within ourselves and the world around us.

For those considering embarking on their Tai Chi journey, she offers a simple piece of advice: try it. With two different Tai Chi classes available at CARD, individuals have the opportunity to explore this gentle movement practice firsthand.

“Tai Chi is for everybody and every body,” she affirms, emphasizing the importance of staying active as we age. “Find something you enjoy, whether it’s Tai Chi, yoga, or a leisurely stroll in the park. Find something that you can enjoy doing because that is going to make a huge difference to your health.”

For seniors interested in joining the CARD Tai Chi community, along with the option to join online through video classes, visit Classes are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10–11:15 AM. For more CARD updates, visit and follow CARD on Facebook and @ChicoRec on Instagram.



About Chico Area Recreation & Park District

Founded in 1948, the Chico Area Recreation & Park District (CARD) is a California Special District focused on creating recreational opportunities that bring friends and families together to have fun and build lasting memories. CARD manages and cares for more than 12 community and neighborhood parks, four community centers, one swimming pool, the Chico Creek Nature Center, and other facilities. The PLAY Activity Guide highlights the numerous sports, classes, camps, special events, and more CARD offers. Learn more about CARD at