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FARMINGTON — As Regina BlueEyes instructed about 20 women through various Tai chi moves, she explained its physical and psychological benefits.

"In this fast pace world, we just want to go and go. Slow movement is hard for people to do," BlueEyes, a recreational specialist with the health promotion department at Four Corners Regional Health Center in Red Mesa, Arizona, said.

The 45-minute session was among several sessions offered on Friday at the 10th annual Celebration of Women Conference at the Farmington Civic Center.

BlueEyes said she offered the lesson because Tai chi teaches meditation, a focus beneficial to people.

"Especially with women, they're so busy, they forget to take care of themselves. This is another way of giving them ideas of how to help themselves," BlueEyes said.

Farmington resident Glenda Hardy paid close attention to BlueEyes' instruction.

"It teaches you to pause with your body," she said about Tai chi.

Hardy has attended previous conferences and continues to participate because she is interested in women's issues.

"This is a great way for women to get together and to share issues and matters that are important to us," she said.

"It helps me to see the diversity of women. We're from all different professions and from all walks of life. We have our elders here, we have our youth here and we're represented in such great ways," Hardy added.

Bringing together women from various backgrounds to network and share information was one reason Sisters in Circle, a women's support and empowerment group based in the Navajo Nation, held its first conference in 2008.

Shirley Montoya, facilitator for Sisters in Circle, said the conferences provide resources and opportunities for women to develop confidence and build relationships.

"Since we deal with a lot of negatives in our personal lives, our families, our communities, we wanted our conferences to have a positive message and have each of our sisters walk away with a feeling that they have the opportunity to reach out," Montoya said.

Participants traveled from as far away as Window Rock and Sanders, both in Arizona, to attend.

Sessions focused on stress management, female empowerment, personal safety, relationship building and health.

In the session taught by Elfreda Harvey-Yazzie, a faculty member at San Juan College, each woman introduced herself and named her clans.

Harvey-Yazzie said the exercise demonstrated the roles women identify with while starting the process to build relationships.

This was the first time Michelle Nakai-Gale attended the conference.

Navajo culture is a matriarchal society, and by coming together women can make a difference, she said.

"As Navajo women, I think we are empowered," Nakai-Gale said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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