Posts Tagged ‘qigong’

5 Things to Know About Tai Chi Training

As I start my third year of Tai Chi training, I’m constantly reminded how little I really know about Tai Chi.

I’m told by my Tai Chi teacher that I’m getting better, and some days I feel it.

But I get frustrated when I can’t do the form the same way each time.

“There are a few things that I wish I had known when I started my Tai Chi training. I would have learned faster and easier,” writes Eric Borreson, who teaches Tai Chi and qigong at the prestigious Heartland Spa, a top 10 destination spa, located in Gilman, IL.

In this recent article, he presents to beginners 5 things to keep in mind:

1. Relinquish your attachment to perfection.

All beginners want to move perfectly and match the teacher’s movements.

Get over it as quickly as you can.

Your teacher has years of practice to learn how to move correctly.

Just keep practicing with the goal of making progress.

You don’t have to be perfect.

2. The movements are important, but what counts is the principles.

I used to think that the movements of the forms was what made Tai Chi what it is.

I was on a journey to learn more and more Tai Chi forms.

I was so wrong!

Pay attention when your teacher talks about the principles of Tai Chi.

That’s what counts.

3. There’s more than one way to do Tai Chi.

Many people are certain that their style, or school, or method is the best.

If you are meeting your goals, what you are doing is the good for you.

If you want to practice Tai Chi as a martial art, that’s great.

If you want to practice Tai Chi for health, that’s great, too.

4. It takes time to see results.

Whatever your goals are, you won’t reach them right away.

Tai Chi takes time to learn.

It will seem like nothing is happening for a long time.

Keep a record of your training, practice, and how you feel so you can go back and see if you are making progress.

Expect that you will start to see results after about 10 to 12 weeks of lessons and practice.

5. Practice, practice, practice.

Tai Chi is an experiential process.

You need to move through the plateaus as your muscles learn the movements and as you learn the principles.

Every once in a while, you will have an “aha!” moment as you finally understand something your teacher has been telling you.

Top Five Reasons NOT to Do Tai Chi and Qigong

In New York Times columnist Jane Brody’s article on the downside of Tai Chi, she suggested “the proper question to ask yourself may not be why you should practice tai chi, but why not.”

Taking the opposite, albeit tongue-in-cheek approach, a recent blog by Boston Tai Chi instructor Randy Moy posted on Swimming Dragon Tai Chi listed the top 5 reasons not to do Tai Chi and qigong.

“After many years of conversations with two types of people–those who crave personal growth, and those who don’t, I have come to believe that for many people, there are some darn good reasons not to do Tai Chi, beyond the obvious ones, like being in a body cast,” writes Moy.

“If you fall into one of these categories, then you shouldn’t ever let some chipper, well-meaning Tai Chi teacher like myself convince you that Tai Chi is the right choice for you.”

Here are his Top 5 reasons not to do Tai Chi and qigong, and bits of his tart answers.

Check out the full article for the full effect.

1. You enjoy feeling older than you are.

Researchers have found that people who do just three 60-minute sessions of qigong or tai chi per week, feel younger and more energetic when they were younger.

2. You embrace those heavy metal toxins building up in your body as a badass homage to your Motley Crue concert days. Rock on!

The way to really cleanse your body, besides being careful of what you eat, drink, and slather on your body, is to support your lymphatic system to do its work.

In order to do this, it’s helpful to breathe deeply using qigong’s various breathing exercises.

Many of these exercises are specifically designed to aid in the detoxification of your body.

3. You are invincible to running related injuries.

The practice of tai chi and qigong can restore meniscus in your knees so it can take the harsh impact of the pavement when running.

4. You hate Tai Chi and qigong.

The attitude of some studios, coupled with weird postures and tendency to quench your thirst you have from reciting healing sounds for 20 minutes with all the twig tea you can drink, can create an off-putting, too-strange atmosphere for regular people just looking for a lot of workout and maybe a little Zen.

However, whether you love martial arts, meditative exercises, improving health… there is a style, and an instructor for you.

5. You think the hospital is a specialized Club Med, and don’t mind staying there more often. The food stinks, but the staff is attentive!

Health insurance statistics show that people who practice meditative arts like Tai Chi and qigong are about 87% less likely to be hospitalized for heart disease, 55% less likely for benign and malignant tumors, and 30% less for infectious diseases.

As for me, I’ll continue taking Tai Chi classes three times a week at my local Y, as well as do a little home practice thrown in between.

100-Year-Olds Share The Secrets of a Long Life

I’m always willing to learn from my elders, so when 100-year-olds tell me their secrets of a long life, I take notice.

Kevin W Chen, Ph.D., the publisher/editor of Yang-Sheng (Nurturing Life), reveals the life-nurturing regimens of centenarians in “Selected Secrets and Maxims of Longevity of Famous Chinese Celebrities” in the September issue of this e-magazine for all Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, Reiki, mindfulness and meditation practitioners, spiritual cultivators, and health seekers.

Here’s a selection of what these 100-year-olds have to say, as translated by Chen:

Sun, Simiao lived to be 101 years old. His secrets were: “Keep your four limbs moving industriously; be moderate and controlled in diet; chew carefully and eat slowly; wash and rinse your mouth after meals; and get sufficient sleep.”(四体勤劳;节制食欲;细嚼慢咽;饭后盥漱;睡眠充足. ).

Zhang, Xueliang (General) lived to be 101 years old. His maxim was: “Have a broad and level mind/heart; but build a strong will; frequently do physical exercise to strengthen the body; maintain a regular daily routine and moderate diet; view flowers and read books; cultivate both body and spirit, make a lot of friends, and enjoy life joyfully.”(心胸坦荡;意志坚强;经常运动;锻炼身体;起居有时;饮食节制;观花读书;修身养性;广交朋友;自寻快乐)

Wang, Zhongyi lived to be 105 years old. His maxim was: “Travel and enjoy beautiful scenery; eat until only 70% full at meals; act like a prime minister, show kindness and help others; feel only 70% joy even at fully happy moments; be persistent even during difficult times; always smile and be happy to enjoy daily life!”( 去旅游山清水秀;食油腻三分足矣;宰相肚与人为善;喜事临只乐三分;艰难阻进三尺;笑口常开乐悠哉!)

And here’s my favorite, and the one I plan to continue to emulate:

Yu, You-zit died at the age of 105. His longevity 3-character classic was: “Run in the morning, and go to sleep early; eat breakfast only until you are half-full, have a good lunch, and a small supper; read books and newspapers with enjoyment; smile and don’t worry; exercise with persistence; keep busy into old age to live a long, happy life.”( “夙兴跑;夜寐早;晨半饱;午餐好;晚餐少;读书妙;常看报;常常笑;莫烦恼;动为宝;恒常要;忙到老;寿自高”)

My plan is to follow the sage advice from these wise, old men — maintain a healthy, strong body, cultivate a clear mind, and retain a joyful zest for life.

Tai Chi Added to Exercise Guidelines

Practice Tai Chi 2 or 3 days a week and engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and you’ll be getting as much exercise as you need.

That’s the new recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) on how much exercise is actually enough for an adult.

For the first time, the ACSM has added in neuromotor exercises, sometimes called functional fitness, to its guidelines.

The guidelines state:

“Multifaceted physical activities such as tai ji (tai chi), qigong, and yoga involve varying combinations of neuromotor exercise, resistance exercise, and flexibility exercise.

Neuromotor exercise training is beneficial as part of a comprehensive exercise program for older persons, especially to improve balance, agility, muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.

They provide proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.”

Based on the results of clinical studies, the new guidelines suggest 20-30 minutes per day of neuromotor training for 2 to 3 days per week for all adults.

In addition to outlining basic recommendations and their scientific reasoning, the ACSM position stand also clarifies these new points:

* Pedometers, step-counting devices used to measure physical activity, are not an accurate measure of exercise quality and should not be used as the sole measure of physical activity.

Interpretation: Step counting is fine, but adding up your total minutes of aerobic activity is better.

* Though exercise protects against heart disease, it is still possible for active adults to develop heart problems.

Interpretation: Everyone should know the warning signs of heart disease, and if you recognize them, see your doctor.

* Sedentary behavior – sitting for long periods of time – is distinct from physical activity and has been shown to be a health risk in itself.

Interpretation: Don’t be a couch potato, which would be hard to do if you follow the full exercise recommendations.

The full recommendations include:

— 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (5 days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (3 days per week)

— Resistance exercise to train each major muscle group 2 or 3 days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment

— Flexibility exercises at least 2 or 3 days each week to improve range of motion.

— Tai Chi, qigong, or yoga for 2 or 3 days each week for functional fitness.

Rapping about Qi and Tai Chi

The rappers Lil Wayne and Mac Miller get lots of play in my house by my two teenagers.

For my money, I prefer these two cool rap videos about qi and Tai Chi, one by Michael Clark, “Qigong and Tai Chi Rap” of Heaven and Earth Tai Chi, and the other by Dr. Love “This is Why I Do Qigong”.

As Dr. Love says, “I’m strong because I do qigong!”

Notes on Qi for a Nurturing Life

I just received the April 2011 issue of Yang-Sheng (Nurturing Life), an e-magazine put out monthly by a network for all Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, Reiki, mindfulness and meditation practitioners, health seekers, and spiritual cultivators.

The mission of the network is to promote philosophy and methods of self-healing, positive mind and health preservation, and to share knowledge and experiences with those who are interested in the subjects and their applications in everyday life.

The e-magazine always has interesting personalized articles, as well as abstracts from the latest medical journals.

I was struck by some of the wry, funny, contemplative poetry in the latest issue:

What Is Qigong? by Solala Tower

“What is this thing you do?” he asks hesitantly over the phone.

This quee gong? Is it martial arts or is some kind of health practice?”

“Well, I answer, it’s a health practice and a meditation practice, as well as a spiritual practice.”

“Wow,” he says, “all in one package, huh? What a deal!”

If a Daoist had composed the error messages that appear on a computer screen…. by Anonymous

Stay the patient course
Of little worth is your ire
The network is down.

A crash reduces
your expensive computer
to a simple stone.

Yesterday it worked
Today it is not working
Windows is like that.

You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Selected Poetry by Jacob Newell

Letting go of all my concerns
I settle deeply into the serenity of nature
It’s already there
I don’t have to do a darn thing
Greater than anything
Anyone could ever contrive

I hope these poems help you cultivate your Qi for Body, Mind & Spirit, as Yang-Sheng says at the end of every issue.