Tai chi has been a lifeline for Rod Dunn more than once.
The builder who lives in the bush near Brogo Dam long had a fascination with Tai chi.
"About 30 years ago I got really sick so I started doing Tai chi.
Illness struck again in 2015 when Mr Dunn was diagnosed with cancer.
He valued Tai chi as something he could do to help himself.
"I was doing Tai chi in the hospital corridor the day after surgery."
Then Tai chi "saved me considerably" after the Black Summer bushfires.
"I lost everything and had to camp in Cobargo for three months."
Tai chi offers so much
Tai chi is a form of Qigong which moves energy around the body.
It takes time and commitment to master.
"Once you can get to that point it is an addiction," Mr Dunn said.
"I love the relaxation, the peace and the fact you can feel you are contributing to your own wellbeing rather than waiting for a doctor's prescription."
Healing and fun for 22 years
Affiliated with the Tai Chi Academy in Canberra, Mr Dunn has been teaching Tai chi in Cobargo for 22 years.
He runs classes on Thursday and, since the beginning of the year, free classes on Friday through Reclink.
"They all love it and I have more fun than anyone else,"
Mr Dunn follows all the principles of traditional Tai chi but has been teaching long enough to adapt it to "have a bit of Aussie fun".
"I can see that it is doing them all a heap of good" with more flexibility and confidence in their body movements.
Building mental health after the fires
Julia Willson, senior sports coordinator with Reclink, said it received a federal government Black Summer Bushfire Recovery grant to run free programs in the Bega Valley.
"The programs build fitness and community connections because we know that builds mental health," she said.
Ms Willson said it is also very healing for Mr Dunn to run the classes.
"It has been really powerful for him and he gets a real buzz out of it every week."
Mr Dunn kept a journal for four to five months after the bushfires because it had all happened so quickly.
"I looked back at it a few weeks ago and it was quite terrifying.
"I have been to too many funerals since the fires," he said.
Some people took their own lives while Mr Dunn is convinced the other disease-related deaths were connected to the stress after the fires.
"So we all have to look after each other."
Support is available for those who may be distressed on Lifeline 13 11 14
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