Tai Chi & Qi Gong

Every movement counts!


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Qi gong – Life force in motion

I’ve been trying to write a post about qi gong for a long time because I love qi gong. I discovered it by chance while doing tai chi, as one of my teachers introduced it in his classes as a separate element of training. I love the qi gong movements so much that I would like everyone to have a taste, to experience them, to love them, as I do. And the pressure of wanting to impress you makes the writing tough.

Qi gong is usually translated as “energy work”. Hardly a good translation of these concepts because in Chinese philosophy ‘qi’ and ‘gong’ mean much more than what you probably understand by ‘energy work’. ‘Qi’ is one of the basic energies which circulate through our bodies according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is sometimes referred to as vital energy or life force. ‘Gong’ is practice, training, or something that takes time to master. Qi gong requires continous practice and it consists of gentle exercises which can balance your qi levels.

Qi gong is composed of three elements: physical exercises, breathing, and attention to the movements. You need to bring your mind’s attention to your body while keeping a natural breathing pattern, and making your body move in a specific way. Generally, qi gong movements are repetitive, so they can be learnt faster than a tai chi sequence.

Qi gong is very popular in China because it can be done by people of different ages and physical conditions. It is gentle with the body, following your natural rhythm. Once you learn the precise structure and become more relaxed while doing the exercises, you will start feeling the ‘qi’ energy in your body. It will manifest as warmth, tingling, or other sensations.

Qi gong is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine, both as a preventative and as a healing method, as some of the qi gong movements help unblock the energy blocks in the meridians.  Have a look at this article for more info. I could not write it better: http://www.beyondhuman.com/qigong-healingpower1.html

Enough words now! I was probably lacking words in my earlier attempts to explain qi gong because qi gong needs to be experienced. If you wish to have a taste, check the timetables for qi gong classes or look for a teacher near you.


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Healing others Vs Being present to others

I just watched this video with Mooji. I have listened to him before and I always find inspiration in his words. This video is about healers and healing. Being a tai chi instructor and psychotherapist, I found it extremely inspiring. It reminded me why I started my career as a psychotherapist. I was working as an interpreter with survivors of torture and I realized that at times my presence was more healing that the words being used. I found a precious gem in those therapy sessions to the point of deciding to leave a very successful career as a translator and interpreter and start working as a teacher and a psychotherapist. The video talks about being fully present in our work, whatever that may be. He reckons that being present is more healing than trying to heal others. And I agree with him.

Similarly, if you teach to heal others, you will find yourself trying to fix postures, explain the movements once and again, etc. instead of being fully present for your students. I often find students or colleagues who look for a teacher or master who gives all the details, explains everything to the max and points out to all of their mistakes. I used to be one of them. Grandmaster Liming Yue taught me that I need to learn by myself. I need to take responsibility for my own learning and practice the forms, experience the flow of energy, feel my tai chi as it appears in a shape that has my name on it. I know that many other instructors will teach me to be like them. I know Grandmaster Liming Yue is teaching me to find my own tai chi forms. In a similar fashion, I endeavour to help you find your own tai chi forms and acquire an attention for detail in the process. You will see and learn what you need to see and learn because each one of us has a different journey. If you are being told every single detail, you will only find your teachers’ tai chi, but never your own. It can be useful to train with other instructors, but never forget that learning is your responsibility.

Here is the video who inspired these words:


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Spirituality – Connection to a group and nature

In my last post, I reflected on my spirituality, mainly in relationship to oneself and another, but I believe that our spirituality is also present in our relationship in a group and with nature. I thought I would share some of my views around this topic with you.

As I said in my last post, in my opinion, spirituality is a connection to the divine and that is a connection to love in its pure essence as I believe the divine is love. Below, you will find what I believe means to connect to the divine essence as part of a group.

Relationships in a group / community – Obviously they include spiritual groups, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi or religious groups that make us connect to the divine essence within, but in my view it is not limited to that. Examples:

  • Musical concerts
  • Dance, drama, creative groups
  • Group chores, such as cleaning a park or refurbishing a house, when done with love
  • Political demonstrations when love is present

 Meditation

Relationship to nature / world – At some point in one’s life, who hasn’t felt a connection to the divine in nature? Animals, plants, oceans, skies, every element of nature seems to follow a magic cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth which marvels ourselves and connects us to the divine love within. Examples:

  • Walking in nature
  • Listening to the ocean
  • Looking after a pet, a tree, a plant
  • Letting the rain wash all your worries as you get wet and curse at your fate

I ended the list with a funny, controversial one. You may disagree with some of the examples that I gave you. However, I believe that each of the examples given, if they come from love, mindfulness and good intentions, they are part of our spirituality. We only need to dare to connect to the divine anywhere we go, in anything we do at all times.


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Spirituality – Connection to myself and another

Last week, my partner’s daughter was around for lunch and we went for a beautiful walk by the Teignmouth back beach. It turned out that we started to talk about spirituality. The rich conversation made me reflect on how I view my own spirituality, what type of meaning I construe when I talk about being spiritual. I thought I would share it with you, in case you may find it of interest.

In my opinion, spirituality is a connection to the divine and that is a connection to love in its pure essence as I believe the divine is love. Many religions agree that the divine is love.

Every time we connect to the divine within us, in other words, to the love within us, we have a spiritual experience. There are many different ways in which we can experience this connection, but all of them happen in relationship. Here are two different relationships that, in my opinion, we can develop in our spiritual path.

Relationship to oneself – I believe that each one of us is a spiritual being. Every time we connect to that divine essence in ourselves, every time we truly connect to ourselves, we are engaged in our spiritual life. Examples:

  • Meditation, prayer, yoga, tai chi, qigong done alone
  • Everyday life chores done with love/ mindfulness/ being present, such as cooking, washing up, shopping
  • Painting, writing, entertain ourselves while connecting to our inner self
  • Accepting our faults, being in that intimate connection to our divine essence even when we don’t like what we do.

Feet

One to one relationships – When we dare to love another as a divine being, looking for the beauty in them instead of their faults, when we dare to show our pure essence, including our vulnerability to another, when we open our eyes to truly receive and being received by another, we are engaged in our spirituality. Examples:

  • Loving love-making
  • Caring, loving words and acts for a loved one
  • Staying connected to love despite another’s angry words and acts against themselves, us or the world.
  • Games, fun, discussion done with respect and love with another person.

Our physical life starts in connection to another (mother). Our spiritual life starts when we become aware of the link between our divine essence and our body and are able to connect both, when we can connect to our true love inside while relating to self and another.


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The Six Healing Sounds Qigong Practice

The healing sounds have been taught and universally spread by Mantak Chia’s books and worldwide seminars. The healing sounds detox the internal organs by transforming negative emotions associated with each organ into positive ones. My belief is that there isn’t such a thing as positive and negative emotions. However, because of our social background, we tend to express what we believe are “positive” emotions and repress “negative” ones.

That is why so-called negative emotions are usually stuck in our bodies waiting for expression. If they are not let out, they can create internal distress, manifested in physical or mental illnesses. The emotions can be stored in each part of the body. The healing sounds practice focuses on the internal organs, detoxing these by giving a sound to each internal organ. I love the six healing sound practice because it allows us to explore our internal organs and release the emotions stored in them.

According to Chinese medicine, there are 5 major organs which are internal organs (yin). Each one of them is related to an external organ (yang). The 5 yin organs are lungs, kidneys, liver, heart and spleen. Their associated yang organs are large intestine, bladder, gall-bladder, small intestine and stomach respectively.

The negative and positive emotions stored in each organ are the following:Alchemy of Internal Organs

If you wish to have a more thorough explanation of the six healing sounds, including sounds, emotions, body movements, etc., please have a look at the following youtube link. The video was filmed during one of Mantak Chia’s seminars.

If you wish to learn this qigong practice, send me an email to be included in my mailing list or subscribe to this blog. I occasionally run workshops and teach the six healing sounds. Keep in touch.


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Drop-in classes open to all levels

Classes in Ipplepen, Totnes, Abbotskerswell, Dawlish and Teignmouth

New Year, New energy, lots of plans for tai chi and qi gong classes. In 2015, I will be opening new tai chi classes in Abbostkerswell and Ipplepen (on 13 January), and continuing my tai chi classes in Dawlish and Teignmouth (from 6 January). I will also continue the popular qigong class in Totnes (6 January). As explained in my previous email, all my classes are now drop-in at £7 or you can pay 10 classes in advance at £60. I will be teaching in a very similar way to how I was teaching last year, but my classes will be more flexible and will allow a more intuitive approach, allowing us to go deeper. You will be LEARNING AT YOUR OWN PACE and will always find NEW MOVEMENTS to practice. Here are the class details for the New Year:

Tai Chi – Ipplepen
Start Date: Tuesday, 13 January
Time: 9:30-10:30am
Venue: Ipplepen Village Hall, Ipplepen.


Qi Gong – Totnes
Start Date: Tuesday, 6 January
Time: 11:30am-12:30pm
Venue: Chapel House Studios, Station Road, Totnes.


Tai Chi – Abbotskerswell
Start Date: Tuesday, 13 January
Time: 3:00-4:00pm
Venue: Church House, Abbotskerswell.


Tai Chi – Dawlish
Start Date: Tuesday, 6 January
Time: 18:00-19:00
Venue: Auditorium, The Strand Church, The Strand, Dawlish


Tai Chi – Teignmouth
Start Date: Thursday, 8 January
Time: 18:00-19:00
Venue: Richard Newton Hall, Higher Buckeridge Road, Teignmouth

Feel free to forward this email if you know anyone who might be interested living in those areas.


Devon Tai Chi and Qi Gong Centre

My partner Master Nick Taylor is the head instructor of the Devon Tai Chi and Qi Gong Centre. We will be facilitating joint workshops in 2015, starting in February. In the meantime, please note that Nick teaches in the following areas open to all levels:
Bishopsteington, Cristow, Exeter, Exmouth, Teignmouth, Barton (Torquay), Stokeinteignhead, Shaldon
If you wish to have extra practice, my times no longer suit you, or know anyone in those areas, please feel free to forward this information. Nick is an experienced instructor with over 12 years experience.
For more info, contact Nick Taylor. Here are his details:
Tel: 01626 778048 or 07968174934
Email: taichinick@tiscali.co.uk


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Free tai chi classes in Devon 2014

Here I am, based in Devon, living in beautiful Teignmouth and looking forward to start teaching in this amazing region. At the moment, I am actively promoting my qi gong classes in Exeter city centre starting next Monday at 12pm. Tomorrow, my classes will kick off as I’m starting to teach qi gong in Totnes at 11.30am. The list is practically full, and my excitement is growing as the day goes by. I will also teach tai chi in Totnes at 12.30pm. If you haven’t booked your place in one of my courses, please do so, as there are no many spaces left. 

My other tai chi courses will start next week: in Teignmouth and Dawlish. These courses will be very similar. Because Teignmouth and Dawlish are very close, I am offering free tai chi classes to anyone who wishes to train more than once a week. That means that if you join the paid Dawlish course for Tuesdays at 6pm, you can go to Teignmouth for free tai chi classes on Thursdays at 6pm. Or if you join the paid Teignmouth course, you can go to Dawlish for free tai chi classes on Tuesdays at 6pm. If you only want to do tai chi once a week, that is perfectly okay too.

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Having free classes to complement your paid classes can be useful if you are not too good at practicing at home and would like to make tai chi an important part of your healthy lifestyle. Some of the exercises that you will learn in my tai chi and qi gong classes, you will be able to incorporate in your daily lives, as you learn about body awareness and mindfulness. But if you wish to improve your movements, posture, or simply move more regularly, do come along to two days a week. The price will be the same.

So no excuses now. Time for tai chi classes. Time for qi gong classes. Time to come along and start moving. Remember that every movement counts. Call 07437 332032 and book your course.

 

 


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The Importance of Being Grounded

By Sorcha Hegarty

 

One of the things tai chi class can help with is becoming more grounded. Being grounded means being connected. Connected to your body, to its rhythms and needs; connected to the earth, and to what’s happening in the world around you; and connected to the present moment.

 

I am not a person one could ever accuse of being grounded.

 

I stay up too late. Show me a good book or film, and I could easily stay up all night, putting aside my tiredness until the sky starts to brighten and I’m suddenly reminded of what a struggle it’s going to be to get through the day on an hour’s shut-eye.

Coffee

I can go all day without eating, skipping breakfast and working through lunch, sustaining myself on cups of tea, and then suddenly realizing that I’m famished, and reaching for the first thing I can find.

 

I can go days without proper exercise. Shut up in my home office, buried in projects, only emerging to run to the shops. Feeling the restless, twitchy energy building up in me, but convincing myself that I’m too tired to do anything today.

 

I can walk miles without seeing a step, because my mind is on work, or on worries. I can talk to a friend and never hear a word they say, because I’m waiting for my turn to speak.

 

And for years, I never really noticed this. Or if I did, I thought it was an indelible part of my personality, not something I could or wanted to change.

 

I was walking home from tai chi class last week, and the sun was bright and the breeze was fresh, and I wasn’t thinking about anything at all except how nice a day it was, and the feel of my feet on the ground. And I realized that I can’t remember the last time I stayed up too late. When my body gets tired, and my mind starts to fog, I turn off the computer and go to bed. When I’m hungry, I notice it and eat something. When I see friends, I listen to them with full attention, enjoying our time together.

Happiness

Tai chi class was a big part of this shift, and practicing what I’d learned at home helped even more. Somewhere over the last few years of tai chi, and later qi gong, the lessons about focusing on the body, on the movements, on the breath, started to sink in.

 

It didn’t happen over night. This change in my life happened like the movements of a tai chi set: slowly, gracefully, and with unexpected power.

© Sorcha Hegarty, 2014


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Teaching tai chi in Devon (UK) from September 2014

When I started to teach tai chi and qi gong, I wanted to share my passion for these ancient health systems. When I chose my “business name” I wanted to find something that would define my dream. I chose house of movement because my dream was to create a community of like-minded people (around a house/studio) who would share a passion for movement. When I talk about movement, I mean external / physical movement, but also internal /psychological movement and spiritual movement. With the practice of tai chi and qi gong, you start a journey with physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions. My own journey brought me to leave my previous career as a translator and interpreter and start a new path into accompanying others into their own journeys, through teaching tai chi and qi gong and as a counsellor and psychotherapist.

 

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Now, my journey is bringing me to the UK, where I will teach tai chi in Devon. I will bring my dream with me, hoping that I will be able to build on the successes that my students and I have enjoyed in Dublin, with lots of enthusiastic faces in my classes. I hope that one day I will be able to create a real house of movement with my tai chi friends in Devon. I will be affiliated to Master Nick Taylor of the Devon Tai Chi Centre. Master Taylor, disciple of Grandmaster Liming Yue, has been teaching tai chi in Devon for over 12 years. Click his website link if you’re interested in going to a drop-in class in Torbay, Exmouth, Shaldon and other towns (check schedule in website).

 

From September I will discontinue my regular tai chi and qi gong classes in Dublin, and I will only come to teach workshops every now and then. From September I will be running tai chi courses in different areas of Devon. I am in the process of arranging venues and I will publish more information about my September tai chi courses in Devon soon. I am also planning to continue running qi gong classes, so my tai chi courses in Devon will be complemented by my qi gong and meditation classes.


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The Tai Chi Sphere

By Sorcha Hegarty

Tai chi seems to be full of circles. We have already talked about the symbolic connection to the Taijitu symbol, but that seems rather an esoteric point for what is, fundamentally, a martial art. And yet, circular motions are at the heart of practicing tai chi. The circularity of the movements is there by design. Movements on a curved line are efficient, conserving energy, and if the curve is shortened suddenly, that energy is condensed into tremendous force. The ancient masters who developed tai chi knew what they were doing, and graceful as the form is, the martial application is never out of sight!

Tai chi symbol

Some tai chi teachers talk about the tai chi sphere. This is a way of visualizing your personal space, getting to grips with the way that qi extends beyond skin and bone, and understanding the underlying structure of the movements. When practicing tai chi, picture a sphere that extends down to the floor, resting on one spot, with its centre point at your centre of gravity (the dantian). This sphere moves with you, its outer surface is the reach of your arms, but it is symmetrical, extending above your head and behind your back where you can’t see.

Visualizing the sphere also draws you focus to which foot should carry the majority of your weight. In the form, aside from the opening and closing stances, there are few moments when the weight is evenly distributed on both legs. Usually, one leg bears at least a little bit more weight. A sphere only connects to the ground at one point, and so it’s ready to roll or bounce in any direction. Try to visualize the sphere moving with your weight, with the point that connect to the ground passing from left foot to right as you move through the form.

Sphere

Another property of a sphere is that the outside rotates, while the centre is still. When practicing tai chi, we know to try and let our movements flow from the dantian. A sphere also has a straight axis going right up through the middle. Let your spine become this straight axis. As you move your body through the tai chi form, it stays straight and relaxed, never bending or leaning, while the arms, legs and hips rotate around it. The centre is held straight while the movements in flow around it.

In combat between opponents, the tai chi sphere helps you to stay centred, and to find the best way to counter their movements: with the precision, balance, and “spring” of a sphere.

© Sorcha Hegarty, 2014


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Tai chi classes and qi gong starting next week

Alda of House of movement has been really busy training in Manchester, polishing the different forms that she knows, learning new things, liaising with other instructors to bring you further training, and finding the confidence to know that she can offer high standard tai chi classes in Dublin. Alda had to turn down a few students in the previous courses organized due to lack of spaces available, so now she has decided to open a new tai chi for beginners course.

The tai chi classes will run on a weekly basis every Wednesday evening at 8:30pm. Here are the details:

Wednesday Evening – Tai Chi 11 Form Classes – Book now!

Level: Tai chi for Beginners
Start Date: 19 February
Time: 20:30-21:30
Venue: Zephyr room, the Lantern Centre, 17 Synge St, Dublin 8 (free parking at the back)
Cost: €70 for 6 week course

For more details about the venue or other courses (including qi gong courses), click here.

QI GONG CLASSES

If you are more interested in qigong classes, there is a new course starting also on Wednesday at 7:15pm. Here are the details:

Wednesday Evening – Mawangdui Daoyin Shu Qigong – Book now!

Teaching: Draw a bow, Stretching the back, Wild duck swimming, Dragon flying

Level: All levels
Start Date:  Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Time: 19:15-20:15
Venue: Zephyr room, the Lantern Centre, Synge Street, Dublin 8
Cost: €70 for 6 weeks

More info here.

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