Amanda Heidke's tai chi students often arrive for a session stressed and exhausted from a difficult day.
When they leave, she says, they're "feeling happy and re-energised".
Despite tai chi being "easy to do", it has many benefits. That is, there's a lot to gain from a little effort.
"It's a complete system allowing muscles to let go of tension and mind to let go of worry," she said.
She describes it as a "gentle workout that doesn't leave you feeling burnt out".
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day will be held on Saturday.
Amanda will mark the occasion with a free event at The Station in Newcastle at 10am.
"It's a celebration of the many healing benefits of these ancient arts," she said.
Tai chi is about the journey, not the destination.
"The reward is the doing, not the finishing," she said.
Regardless of experience or skill level, it offers the chance to "learn more and develop".
"I am constantly continuing my personal tai chi and qigong development," she said.
The benefits of tai chi took on a new form for Amanda last year when she had a serious accident.
A ceiling collapsed on her head on a building site. A friend found her unconscious.
Her injuries left her with an uncertain prognosis. As part of her recovery, she continued practising tai chi and qigong.
"With an already strengthened body from years of practice, my recovery time was much improved and my mind was relieved of any worry," she said.
Her teaching at the Newcastle-based Tai Chi Qi Gong Centre has also helped others with their health.
Tai chi's gentle exercises and movements are "easily modified to suit individual capabilities".
Students range from 25 to 85 years old.
"Quite a number come to class with pre-existing injuries and conditions. They've often been referred by their GP, surgeon or physiotherapist," she said.
"We currently have three students recovering from knee replacements. Their recovery time has been much shorter than anticipated."
Another student recently had a hip replacement and came back to class earlier than expected.
"Students attend class to work through frozen shoulders, chronic neck and back pain and to manage other conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia," she said.
"We have a stroke survivor who regained her confidence. A PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] sufferer learnt to relax and have fun."
One student was required to remain conscious during a surgical procedure.
"During the procedure she closed her eyes and practised qigong in her mind," she said.
"While recuperating in the recovery ward, the surgeon visited and said he had never seen someone so relaxed during surgery."
One student living with Parkinson's started taking Amanda's classes about three years ago.
"He has become an inspiration for all students of the tai chi centre. I could count on one hand how many times he has missed a class during the past three years," she said.
"We have one student who, by maintaining regular practice, has overcome his battle with debilitating chronic depression and is now studying to become a tai chi instructor."
Amanda has been involved with Dementia Research Australia, which lists five steps to maximise brain health: Look after your heart, do some physical activity, mentally challenge your brain, follow a healthy diet and enjoy social activity.
"Participating in tai chi and qigong ticks four of those five boxes," she said.
"If students also follow a healthy diet, they are well on the way to maximising their health long term."
Yin and Yang
She said the tai chi principle of balance and harmony can be applied to diet. There are "yin foods and yang foods".
Ancient Chinese doctors believed that food had energetic properties. They sought to determine the most suitable diet for their patients' health.
"Unfortunately, I don't have the advantage of an ancient Chinese physician to guide me, but I do maintain a healthy diet with the occasional sneaky chocolate, of course," Amanda said.
Amanda is an associate instructor of tai chi master Jesse Tsao, who came to Newcastle last year to work with her students.
"The greatest reward for me as a tai chi instructor is watching students grow in skill and confidence," she said.
"From arriving at their first class so nervous they hardly breathe, to letting go and allowing their body and mind to relax, to enjoying learning and celebrating their achievements."
She said her classes were social and welcoming.
It's A Dog's Life
These two pooches, spotted at Umina Beach, look pretty darn comfortable.