/ The Phoenix Traveler
Phoenix — By Heather Wright Schlichting on January 20, 2010 at 6:26 am
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Tai Chi at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden

When creating my list of resolutions for the New Year, I kept in mind three little words; mind, body and spirit. My resolution to read two books per month falls under mind, exercising three times a week for the body and so on.

When I read about the Desert Botanical Garden offering Tai Chi lessons, I thought what a perfect setting to meet all three goals.

Based on legend, the fighting system of Tai Chi Ch’uan was created by Zhang Sanfeng in approximately 1270 A.D. Sanfeng was inspired by watching combat between a snake and a crane, observing their grace and flow. When the snake would strike, the crane would gracefully retreat. When the crane attacked, the snake would recoil. In this contest the principles of yin and yang, where the soft overcomes the hard, became evident.

The forms and postures originally performed are no longer seen today, but the ‘operating principles’ were codified in Sanfeng’s writing and are enacted today.

Nestled in the buttes of Papago Park, the Desert Botanical Garden hosts one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants. This one-of-a-kind museum showcases 50 acres of beautiful outdoor exhibits and is home to 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species from around the world.

A garden is a traditional setting for the ancient flowing movements of the Chinese art of Tai Chi. The Desert Botanical Garden offers several types of Tai Chi for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. Each class involves warm up, gentle movement, balance, and relaxation while progressively learning the 64 movements of the Kuang Ping Yang style of Tai Chi.

Individual classes are held both in and out of doors, depending on the weather.

If you’re already a Tai Chi master and looking for a little more than the basics, consider the Lotus Blossom Fan Class, one of the most popular exercise programs practiced around the world. You will learn different fan movements and specific exercises that will improve joint flexibility, increase muscle strength and improve deep breathing. You can also take a relaxing, but extraordinary stroll through the Garden as part of the Tai Chi Relaxation Walk. Based on Buddhist techniques, this walking exercise is designed to relieve stress, improve health and increase awareness of the Garden around you. Or for the hidden warrior, consider the Tai Chi Sword class where this instrument is used to develop body balance and coordination.

Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix

Register here for any of the classes listed below.

Tai Chi at the Garden
Winter Session II
Beginning Level
Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Intermediate Level
Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays
10 – 11 a.m.

Mondays – February 15, 22, March 1, 8, 15, 22
(Beginning and Intermediate only)
Wednesdays – February 17, 24, March 3, 10, 17, 24
Saturdays – February 20, 27, March 6, 13, 20, 27
Member Fee: $55 / General Public: $68

Tai Chi / Lotus Blossom Fan Class
Sundays / January 24, 31, February 7, 14 / 1 – 2 p.m.
Member Fee: $50 / General Public: $63

Tai Chi Relaxation Walk
Sunday / January 31 / 9 – 10 a.m. OR
Sunday / February 28 / 9 – 10 a.m.
Member Fee: $20 / General Public: $25

Tai Chi Sword
Sundays / February 21, 28, March 7, 14, 21, 28 / 1 – 2 p.m.
Member Fee: $50 / General Public: $63

Photos courtesy of flickr and The Desert Botanical Garden


  • Sal says:

    I have been practicing Tai Chi for almost 12 years!
    I thoroughly enjoy it and recommend it to anyone.. The spiritual, emotional and physical benefits are readily apparent and beneficial to all.

    Nice article, thank you!

  • heather says:

    Thanks Sal,

    Tai Chi does sound like a great way to exercise. I think it might even be more appealing to do it in a garden surrounding.

    Thanks for visiting PlanetEye Traveler.


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