Table 2

Qualitative findings

ThemesSubcategoriesExemplars
General satisfaction/benefits of Tai ChiCalming
Optimism
Concentration
Safe
Enjoyable
It calms me, definitely…I'm dealing better with stress. It made me more optimistic, I should say in terms of accomplishing things…I was surprised about the mental concentration, how much I concentrated on Tai Chi after I left. I'm hyper-vigilant and…there were actually people behind me, males behind me and I was calm enough to do [Tai Chi]…your stretching is done upright…there's no time where you're prone so I like that. It makes a huge difference with sexual trauma…like last week I was the only female in the group and normally I would just leave…but I was actually closing my eyes and everything. Low impact, physically. If it was up to me, I would take it all the time.
Perception of Tai ChiPhysically comfortable
Warrior spirit
It's comfortable for everybody no matter how young or old you [are], no matter the condition of your body. I liked that they were relaxing and easy to do. They weren't…what do you call it…strenuous. I used the words ‘warrior spirit’ because you know veterans…and soldiers…something that's like martial arts is more in tune [with] a ‘warrior's spirit’.
Participant engagementGroup community
Positive atmosphere
Focused attention
It's hard to get us [veterans] engaged in things. I feel like the class did and each person…was engaged …even though a lot of us have disabilities…we put that to the side to be a part of the group. The class today…it just, it charged me. Before, doing any type of activities or even a class with a bunch of people, I still wouldn't do it. But when I started this, it showed me that I could get back into that training and into that group atmosphere where I could feel comfortable with a lot of people. So I think if I get into a class, I think it might help. I was able to calm my mind enough that that was the only thing I was focusing on.
Benefits for post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression and painFeels good physically
Reduces tension
Encourages hope
Improves symptoms
I like the fluid movement of Tai Chi, it takes me out of my depression and my anxiety…I feel great when I'm doing it, I feel better when I'm finished. [Tai Chi] is helping me breathe better…and to concentrate better and I don't get as distracted with my symptoms. When we had to sit on the edge of our seats and that's because I have a back problem and I can't stay sitting like that for a while. So that was a bit uncomfortable, but as you're going through the exercise you start to relax more and it actually loosens up my muscles a lot. Had a workout. And that felt good. I'm not as jumpy as I used to be…my dreams have subsided too.I think it's given me hope, does that make sense? That there are things out there that I can…that actually help…I've done a lot of different things and this is just an additional tool in my toolbox. It's very helpful…I think all veterans, suffering from PTSD or not, could use [it].
Tai Chi instructorsSoothing
Supportive
Interactive class
Personalised instruction
He has the right energy and the right personality type to be doing what he's doing: very soothing voice, low key, puts out positive energy. She was clear, concise, and supportive. She was available if there were any questions. But…she wasn't pushy with it. I thought actually it was going to be more of a lecture…I liked the interaction…she gave us…an opportunity to do the exercises over and over again. If you didn't understand his instruction he was quick to pick up and [would] come over and correct you so it was fine. Or you could ask him a question and he'd help you. She modified a couple movements for me and…she gave me attention [while] watching me perform it. 
Tai Chi home practiceRelaxing
Positive routine
When I do it at home, it's relaxing. It helps. I was doing half an hour in the morning, half an hour in the afternoon, half an hour in the evenings…I was doing an hour and a half a day. Yes, my significant other, she does it with me. 
Suggestions for improvementVideo for home practice
Larger space
More sessions
Staff in room
It'd be nice if they could give you a video to take home, that you could play and while you're doing it, at your own place. Of course a bigger room.I found that was really short…just the four weeks of [Tai Chi]. Maybe, yeah if there was somebody else there, a staff member there and like not as knowledgeable about Tai Chi but knowing what he's trying to do and say if you're uncomfortable or if you're having problems, whatever, address it to me and let the instructor continue on with the class.