Jan 6th, 2010

The Spirit of Movement in the Garden

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

One of the things I really like about working at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is that the Garden is always looking at new ways it can serve the community and its members while staying true to its mission of horticulture and education. Like nature, the Garden is always  in a flux of change.  But I don’t mean just the changes of what’s blooming in the Garden. The leadership here is always looking for new ways to improve the Garden and to engage our members, by adding new features like  Butterflies LIVE! and by keeping things interesting by adding new exhibits like Frabel’s Glorious Glass in the Garden exhibit, set to debut April 1st.

So, if the spirit of movement and change are at the heart of the culture here at Lewis Ginter, then it should come as no surprise that we are experimenting with a new series of workshops on movement and change.  The Spirit of Movement in the Garden, will be taught by Richmond T’ai Chi legend Cas Overton.  I first came across Cas when I was a student at VCU in the early ’90s and my friends couldn’t stop raving about the incredible T’ai Chi classes she taught through the VCU Dance Department.  Unfortunately, I never got a chance to take her class.   A few years ago,  I finally got to meet Cas, in person, and was immediately struck by her warmness and openness.  When I heard she was teaching our new class, I decided to give her a call.  I guess I had a feeling that there was a remarkable story behind this remarkable woman.  She explained to me that she started to study the Tao and become involved in T’ai Chi at age 25, shortly after she had been diagnosed with cancer.

“It helped me tremendously to quiet my anxiety and it  gave me strength and tremendous focus,” she says.  As she started to notice how great she felt, she immersed herself in the study even more. Doctors told her to expect the cancer to return within the year.  It didn’t.  And each year, the doctors continued to tell her to expect it to return.  After 3 years, she says, she stopped listening to the doctors, and now, 45 years later, she continues to be cancer free.

In today’s fast-paced world, often, we don’t take time to stand back and reflect on our lives.  Family, friends, work, commitments,  TV, email and Facebook  occupy more and more of our time.  So, if you’d like some help in stopping to reflect on your life, or you are a bit curious, we hope you will embrace the Spirit of Movement in the Garden.

Welcome to a new three-part series planned to explore our spiritual connections to nature. The programs incorporate the Asian concept of the elements earth, fire, water, wood, and metal and how they relate to the yearly cycle of nature. Focus is on the action of breath, movement, poetry and personal discovery in nature. Techniques include movements from T’ai Chi, dialoguing, poetry readings and writing. Each session includes a vegetarian lunch and other refreshments. Leader is Cas Overton, a former adjunct faculty member of the VCU Dance Department and instructor in Ta’i Chi, and Feldenkrais method of movement re-education . $80/ $70 member per session asian valley

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

January 23

10 am – 3 pm

Earth Element: Enter the Cycle of the Earth

Earth is silent. The dark world of late rising and early sleep claims us. Seeds hidden by earth and snow wait. Through the action of breath, movement, poetry and personal discovery, we will wend our way in the garden through this moment toward the next.

June 26 Water and Fire (details TBA)

October 23 Wood and Metal (details TBA)

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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