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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cloud hands, anyone?


As a young lineman for Boston Edison more than 50 years ago, Al Larkin spent his days climbing electric poles and his nights dancing the foxtrot in Boston area dance halls. These days, he stays in shape with a different sort of “dance.”

Larkin, now 75, stood in the basement of the Norfolk Senior Center on a recent Thursday afternoon and responded to his tai chi instructor’s command: “White crane spreads its wings.” Dressed in a striped polo shirt, jeans, and his stocking feet, Larkin slowly lowered his left hand to his side and raised his right hand above his head. Mystical-sounding music played softly in the background, and Larkin concentrated as the teacher, Elliott Edwards, issued more instructions.

“Embrace tiger, return to mountain,” Edwards said. “Repulse the monkey five times.” Larkin gracefully copied Edwards’s motions.

New Age baloney? Supporters claim tai chi, which is being offered at senior centers across Globe West, has health benefits, including improved cardiovascular function and balance, which can be crucial concerns for elders. The federal government is funding studies to see whether that's all true. ...

Read more of this story in tomorrow's Globe West.

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(Elliott Edwards leading a tai chi class at the Norfolk Senior Center, Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

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