I want to let your students know how much Tai Chi helped me. I came in a year and a half ago with knee problems and Tai Chi really helped clear up the pain. I also found it to be a very centering and grounding practice that allowed me to slow down and get into my body more. You, Elena, are such a patient teacher and really explain things well. I love how you broke things down into steps that were easy to follow. I definitely found that the more time I put into Tai Chi the more it gave back to me!

- Thea B.

Studying tai chi chuan at Attaining Harmony school has made me a better person. The embodied study of softness, yielding, gentleness, and inner strength is simply the most rewarding practice I have encountered. Elena's steadfast energy and kind wisdom bring a depth to this art that has inspired my dedication. The practice of the "qi-gong" of tai chi has revolutionized my acupuncture and massage practices.

The benefits of tai chi practice are too many to name, but the ones I have felt most in my life are learning to hold myself in good alignment, nourishing my health in a profound way, developing strength and grace in my daily motions, being present and relaxed with whatever challenges arise even when they are surprises, listening to others and yielding to them in a way that is advantageous to me, and developing the capacity to channel my mind into whatever I am doing with penetrating concentration. The teachers at attaining harmony live their art, and its impact on them is clearly manifested in every interaction with them.

When hiking, I discovered the following about my growth having studied tai chi: when practicing tai chi, if I walk on a steep, loose path, I am balanced and don't slip. If by chance I slip, I am ready, and I don't stumble. If by chance I stumble, I catch myself very quickly and don't fall. If by chance I fall, I am prepared to yield to the ground and I fall softly. If by chance I fall harder than I expect, I am flexible enough that it is never serious - and of course, I recover quickly from any injury because my body is nourished from practicing tai chi. Quite a change for me, having been clumsy and injury-prone most of my life.

The study of push-hands is transformative: learning to maintain integrity in interpersonal conflict and yet also be gentle and non-violent, learning to really be comfortable failing and falling over, learning resilience when pushed outside my comfort zone, and of course learning that the best self-defense is never having to fight or meet hard aggressive force with hardness of my own. The philosophy, health benefits, and martial application are cohesive, holistic, unified, and the lessons from them are transferable to all parts of life

- Ian McPerson L.Ac

Tai Chi practice with Elena has been the one discipline that allows me to stay pain free from lifelong traumas and injuries, absolutely magical relief from back pain and discomfort! Thanks for the classes. Can't express enough how much I appreciate what you guys do!

- Pablo R.

I am a 55-year old Swedish American, six feet tall and generally in good physical shape and health. For the past twenty years, I have been a member of various gyms and work out weekly, both aerobically and on exercise machines.

About ten years ago, my knees started to deteriorate, and were often swollen and painful. On the worst occasions, they were so badly swollen that it was even difficult to pull on some of my tighter-leg trousers. I was told during a medical examination with a specialist that this was caused by arthritis and cartilage loss. It was suggested that I do leg lifts as physical therapy, which I did and continue to do, and further suggested that I would be a good candidate for future knee replacement surgery.

In addition to the difficulty with my knees, my feet and ankles had also become quite stiff, especially early in the morning. I sometimes felt I was beginning to loose my sense of balance - I found I sometimes used the wall to steady myself when I first got out of bed.

In January of 2008, I began studying Tai Chi with Elena Kotenkova - initially for two hours once a week, and subsequently for one hour twice a week. When I started, I informed my instructor that I had trouble with my knees. In the first classes, I noticed that I could not stoop down very far during stretch exercises because of sharp knee pain, stiffness, and related weakness.

I have experienced dramatic improvement in less than a year. My thigh muscles are much stronger and I no longer complain about knee pain, although I continue to be careful not to injure them. I can now stoop down completely with ease (I am still working on extending my right leg while stooping). Also I am aware that I have much greater flexibility in my ankles and in the bones of my feet. While this may sound minor, in fact, this flexibility ("oily" joints) have given me a stronger sense of balance. I try to focus on Tai Chi exercise during moments of stress, which also helps relieve psychological pressure. During a recent high stress project, many of my colleauges fell ill to the flu, but I remained healthy - and I attributed this in part to Tai Chi practise. I am grateful for these and other very noticeable health benefits.

- M. Johnson

Tai Chi with Attaining Harmony has been quite a transformative process for me on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. Training in circus arts, my body is constantly pushed to go beyond limits and tai chi truly rejuvenates my body. I've noticed that when I practice tai chi, my body stays strong and flexible despite the demands my training. Mentally, Tai Chi with Attaining Harmony has helped me let go of mental anxieties. I am better able to focus my mental energies on things that matter most instead of letting my focus scatter about. On a deeper level, Tai Chi has allowed me to act with more compassion and understanding. It has helped me relax, so that my true spirit can rise and thrive.

- Emmy Diep