The Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi

Fall/Winter 2023-2024 Class Series
Spring 2024 Class Series

Tai Chi is a rich and evolving mind-body practice that integrates physical, cognitive, and ritualistic components. Each component has potentially independent and synergetic therapeutic value, particularly for chronic or complex diseases involving many systems throughout the body. The practice involves slow intentional movements, often coordinated with breathing and imagery, which aim to strengthen and relax the body and mind, improve health, and support personal development.

The Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi

The 12-week virtual Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi program is based on an adaptable Tai Chi protocol developed by Dr. Peter Wayne, director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Wayne is also the founder and director of the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center in Boston, and is an internationally renowned teacher ofTai Chi and other Eastern practices with over 40 years of training experience. Dr. Wayne's research has evaluated the impact of therapies such as Tai Chi, Qigong and acupuncture on diverse medical issues including balance disorders, back pain, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and healthy aging. He has served as a principal or co-investigator on numerous National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded studies, and is the author of the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.
The Instructor

The Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi class sessions are taught by Karen Kilgore, Ph.D. Karen is a licensed 2019 graduate of the Tree of Life Teacher Training program, earning her certificate as an Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi Instructor. In 2010, Karen began her journey as a Tai Chi and Qigong practitioner at the Tai Chi Center in Gainesville, Florida. Currently, she leads Tai Chi rounds at the Gainesville Center and provides Zoom classes for those who are unable to attend face-to-face classes in the Tai Chi Center. She is also a certified Pilates instructor, with a specific focus on serving students with chronic medical issues. As she developed greater proficiency in Tai Chi, she began to explore options to provide Tai Chi to special populations of students. Karen’s academic credentials and experiences have been in special education and qualitative research. She serves as a Research Specialist for The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her role as a researcher includes conducting qualitative studies on several NIH-funded trials evaluating Tai Chi and Qigong for chronic diseases. Her role on these studies is to interview participants and to assist researchers in understanding the unique perspectives of research participants. Karen also maintains a private practice in Gainesville serving students, who are aging or have special needs, developing personalized Tai Chi, Qigong, and Pilates programs to meet their needs.


In the Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi program for participants with interstitial lung and other lung disease, Dr. Wayne’s Tai Chi protocol will be adapted by the program instructor to the participants’ physical abilities and constraints. Developed within Dr. Wayne’s conceptual framework of the Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi, this protocol of easy to learn Tai Chi movements and warm-up exercises emphasizes experiencing the therapeutic ingredients of Tai Chi, and helps participants understand how the practice impacts their mental and physical well-being.

Resources and References

  1. Wayne, PM, Fuerst, ML. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Harvard Health Publications. 2013.
  2. National Institute of Health Record: Evidence Grows of Tai Chi’s Benefits, Including for Seniors. November 4, 2016.
  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Webinar: Mind-Body-Movement Interventions: Overview of the State of the Science. Peter Wayne, PhD. Presented September 30, 2020 (begins at minute 22:30).
  4. National Cancer Institute Complementary and Integrative Medicine Course on Tai Chi and Acupuncture: Tai Chi and Qigong Mind-Body   Exercise for Cancer Survivors. Peter Wayne, PhD. Presented October 15, 2020 (begins at minute 8:20).
  5. ILD Collaborative Virtual Community Meetings: The Health Benefits of Tai Chi. Regina Gibbons, MBA, MAc. Presented Sepetember 16, 2020.
  6. ILD Collaborative Virtual Community Meetings: Research Designs, Placebo Effects, and Multicomponent Interventions. Aliaa Barakat, PhD. Presented November 3, 2020.
  7. ILD Collaborative Virtual Community Meetings: Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi. Karen Kilgore, PhD. Presented October 5, 2023.