Health Tai Chi in Devon

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8 tips to have a great summer

(To be read with a humorous tone)

Since the temperatures in the summer are becoming higher, we start wondering about how to make the most of it. Because both Nick and I will be on holidays for a number of weeks (2 in July and 1 mid-August), you will not have your classes to keep your tai chi up-to-date. So here are some tips to enjoy your summer, from the more general to the more specific about your tai chi practice.

  1. Get up early – If you get up early, you will find the it is still not that hot. You can go for a gentle (or a brisk) walk depending on your level of fitness and end your walk with a nice luke-warm shower (or cold if you are daring).
  2. Know when to open your windows – We are lucky in the Southwest because the temperatures go down during the evening. It would be a good idea to open your windows in the evening and during the night to give you some relaxing cooling time. But as the sun starts to shine in your horizon, close your windows to keep the freshness inside and draw your curtains so that the heat cannot reach the interior of your house. Depending on your house, you may find that you might need to open your windows again in the afternoon, if your house is modern and there is a breeze outside. Experiment with opening and closing windows and temperature levels in your house.
  3. Drink water regularly – It may sound obvious, but I often forget to drink enough water, both in winter and summer. If you are like me, you might want to start drinking herbal teas (let them cool a bit) and water throughout the day.
  4. Use sunblock – Do not underestimate the power of the sun. Use sunblock in your face and in the body parts exposed to the sun to protect yourself against the ultraviolet rays.
  5. Check your sunglasses – Use sunglasses to protect your eyes during the hot days. If your sunglasses have the symbol “CE”, they would protect you against the ultraviolet radiation.
  6. Practise tai chi in the evening – The best time to practise tai chi may be in the evening. In the morning, you will need to wait at least 30 minutes to 1 hour for your spine to become “awake” and be able to exercise at ease. In the evening, you will feel the gentle breeze, especially if you practise tai chi in your garden, and you will be able to enjoy the movements without exerting yourself under the heat.popcorn
  7. Watch tai chi videos (or qigong videos) – Because of the mirror neurons in your brain, if you dedicate some time watching an activity, your body reacts as if you were doing that activity. So while we are away on holidays, it can be a good idea to watch some tai chi videos (or qigong videos) while sitting comfortably in your sofa with the windows closed and your curtains drawn, 😊 keeping the natural coolness of our old good Victorian (or other) houses.
  8. Treat yourself – After all of those efforts walking in the morning with sunblock and sunglasses, having checked your windows are closed and curtains drawn, and keeping yourself fit by practising tai chi in the evening or watching videos from your sofa, it is time to treat yourself with a lovely cake, an ice-cream, a forbidden fruit or a savoury meal.

I’m sure that you already know some of these tips, but I hope that I reminded you some of them, or I made you discover something new. At the very least, I hope I brought a smile to your face, as this post is written with a humorously tone in mind. Enjoy your summer!

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Can you change your reality?

I came across a fascinating video in youtube the other day that I feel everyone should listen to and watch. Dr. Bruce Lipton, doctor in cellular biology, and author of The biology of belief explains in a very simple language how you can change your reality.

Your subconscious mind can only be changed by habit

First, he offers an explanation of the difference between your conscious and your subconscious minds and how they both interact. He explains that the subconscious mind can only be changed by habit. That is why even when you are adamant that you wish to change a pattern in your behaviour, for example, your conscious mind finds it hard to do. You need to practise a few times to be able to create a habit so that the subconscious mind translates this habit into a new behaviour.

If you love yourself, love will be knocking at your door

He focuses on two particular areas that are interesting to all of us: health and love. He explains that if you believed as a child that you were not good enough, defaulted somehow, that is the reality you create because that is your programming. But if you tell yourself that you are loved, and you love yourself, love will be knocking at your door. If you have a cancer, but you keep on telling yourself that you are healthy, your subconscious mind will record this message. Health will ensue.  As the brain looks for coherence, if you manage to change your subconscious beliefs through habit, your conscious reality will also change.

The information he shares is based on Dr. Bruce Lipton research on cellular biology. As human beings are made of cells, his research is about human biology. His explanations are based on evidence based facts. If you wish to read the scientific underpinnings of his ideas, get his book The biology of belief.

Now here is the video for your perusal:


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Who am I? Who are you?

Dr. Bruce Lipton answers those questions in his famous book The biology of belief. He researched cells and how cells interact for many years and realised that our DNA is not fixed, as scientists used to believe, and it doesn’t determine who we are. It influences us, but it does not decide our future, our illnesses or the way we relate to others. Dr. Lipton found out that the environment is much more important than the DNA to determine how a person would develop. This gives us hope as we know now that we can change everything, and I emphasise this, everything in our lives. We are not conditioned by our parents or other ancestors.

Our parents gave us life. That was their job. Now, it is our turn to use our human skills to create a reality for ourselves. In the process, we can even change our DNA. Are you sceptical about this? I was too. Until I read his book. Here is Dr. Bruce Lipton presenting some of his ideas in a short video.


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What is push hands or tui shou?

When I think of push hands, what comes to mind is that it is tai chi’s “fighting modality”, but fighting doesn’t really explain it properly, as push hands is much more than that. Fortunately, I found a wonderful definition in Wikipedia:

“Pushing hands, push hands or tuishou is a name for two-person training routines practiced in internal Chinese martial arts such as Baguazhang, Xingyiquan, Taijiquan (T’ai chi ch’uan), Liuhebafa, Yiquan.”

“Pushing hands is said to be the gateway for students to experientially understand the martial aspects of the internal martial arts: leverage, reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination and positioning. Pushing hands works to undo a person’s natural instinct to resist force with force, teaching the body to yield to force and redirect it. Health oriented t’ai chi schools may teach push hands to complement the physical conditioning available from performing solo form routines. Push hands allows students to learn how to respond to external stimuli using techniques from their forms practice. Among other things, training with a partner allows a student to develop ting jing (listening power), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner’s intention.”

 

The emphasis on “two-person training routines” is mine. I would like to emphasise this point, as in push hands we are helping each other to learn about our tai chi form, we are not necessarily fighting each other, but helping each other to become more aware of our errors while doing simple exercises. The movements are repetitive so that you can concentrate on what is happening in your body internally.

 

For example, if we overextend or lean forward while doing the form, we would be pushed forward by our partner in push hands and lose our balance. That teaches us to stay centred and balanced, finding the right position in our push hand session and applying that posture later on to our form. If we tense, we will be uprooted and lose balance very easily, but if we relax, we will feel more grounded and less easy to be moved by our partner.

 

During the movements, the wrists and some parts of the arms are in contact with the other person, and we both move rhythmically in unison, listening to each other and observing their structure, looking for mistakes: too much tension, arms too close or too high, legs not centred, hips not relaxed…We use these observations to push, pull and take our partner out of their space, which is great fun.

 

For those who think that tai chi is a solitary practice, please know that push hands is an essential part of tai chi in more advance stages, and offers a platform for further self-learning while having lots of fun with different partners.

 

This video shows some of the movements involved in push hands. Please excuse the bad quality of the image.


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Book Review: The Neuroscience of Mindfulness

The Neuroscience of Mindfulness by Dr Stan Rodski is very interesting, if you wish to understand how mindfulness can have a positive impact on your brain and your wellbeing. Using very easy-to-understand examples and staying away from complex neuroscience terms, while keeping an expert view on the topic, Dr Stan’s book helps you to understand how your brain works and how mindfulness can help you to become healthier. It helps you become acquainted with the stress response and when stress can become dangerous for your health and why. He explains in simple language what body systems are linked to your wellbeing, including how to keep them at optimal health through mindfulness.

He offers very simple exercises that you can follow while you are showering, driving or doing any other daily activities. He also emphasises the link between mindfulness and generating more energy. He says that we need to learn energy management, not time management, and he explains how we can acquire more physical, emotional, mental and mindful energy.

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Finally, he explains the mind-body connection and he uses scientific evidence to prove that your thoughts impact your health and what to do to become healthier. He talks about the most common autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and MS and suppressed immune system diseases, such as cancer, HIV or ME. He doesn’t imply that stress creates these illnesses, but he does believe that it is a contributing factor. He then explains how to use mindfulness for optimal health.

I enjoyed many of the easy explanations about stress and the brain. I found some of the research fascinating. However, some of the exercises interrupted the flow of the text and I was slightly annoyed by them. They seem easy to follow though, for those who have the time and energy for homework. The book reminded me how important it is to look after ourselves by taking time out, boost our energy with things and people we love and bear in mind how detrimental chronic stress and constant worry can be in our lives. Mindfulness, tai chi, qigong, meditation seem to be practises that allow our bodies to relax and produce incredible results reverting some of the symptoms of chronic conditions, helping us to live healthier and happier lives.

Mindfulness


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Are you a burden?

Author: Philippa Firth

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique, but I think it is more easily understood as a process which alleviates stress by eliminating the associated negative emotion. The stress might stem from a past physical or emotional trauma (eg: a car crash or a bereavement) or a future concern or anxiety (eg: an exam or hospital appointment).

 

Stress covers the whole spectrum of negative emotions, of which there are many, but I think we can all relate to some commonly known ones: anger, fear, grief, anxiousness.

 

Ideally, before stress manifests itself, it needs to be eliminated as it might prove to have an adverse effect or, at the very least, cause us to lose perspective.

 

The EFT process involves tapping meridian end points, primarily on the face, body and hands. It is non-invasive and very gentle. The tapping has a calming effect, which for anyone who is stressed is a great relief. Both negative and positive emotions are very specific to the individual. The same cause will produce a different emotion in different people. Tapping connects with the individual and their specific needs. It is very precise and not generalised.

 

Explaining this subject always gets a very positive result – everyone knows someone who would benefit. But what about looking closer to home? How would it benefit you? We all experience, to one degree or another, relationship issues. If these have a negative issue attached to them, that needs to be tapped out of you – or cleared.

Sad

Let me suggest a potential stress which we might all experience at one point or another in our lives. Being a burden. As we get older, do we fear becoming a burden to our partners, children and/or friends? As we become less able, physically and mentally, and more reliant on help and support, how does this dependency affect us? If you are stressed at the prospect of being a burden or indeed if you believe you are already a burden, how does that make you feel? Let me suggest some emotions that you might feel: that you have no choice, it is unacceptable, you are pessimistic, feel indifferent or numb, guilty, defeated, frightened, embarrassed, resentful.

 

Should you choose not to ask for help in order to try and avoid being a burden, you might then feel separation, uncared for, unloved, unimportant, deserted.

 

Alternatively, when someone you care for is distancing themselves from you because they don’t want to be burden to you. How would you feel?

 

EFT can help you clear all of those emotions, potentially helping you to be more at ease with yourself and improving your relationships with those around you.

 

About the Author — Philippa Firth first qualified as a kinesiologist but now practices as an EFT practitioner and has over 13 years of experience in complementary therapy. She is passionate about her work and goes to great lengths to help her clients. Philippa is also a graphic designer and when not working, she is involved in family life and there is normally a sporting challenge on the horizon.

Contact Details — M: 07740 289 411 — E: pmfirth12@btinternet.com


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Hope for chronic conditions – Heal

In recent years, we’ve seen an increase of chronic conditions among younger populations than ever before. Who doesn’t know a young person who suffers from MS, ME, Lupus, fibromyalgia, to name but a few. Cancer is always still widely spread, leaving orphans, widows, and huge loss everywhere. Our bodies have an innate capacity for recovery and self-healing, if we use our minds positively to influence the outcome. We need a good diet, a strong will to change our thoughts into positive visualisations, and maybe in some cases the help of practitioners experienced in EFT, sound therapy, energy healing, psychotherapy, you name it.

 

Anything that helps your body calm down, process old emotions and let them go, clear your mind of negative thoughts, and bring you to a new level of spontaneity, vibrancy and clarity of mind will be healing.

 

In this documentary, Heal, some worldwide experts talk about their way of helping others. Some ordinary people, like you and me, have experienced extraordinary healings. Maybe healing is not that extraordinary. Maybe we can all bring it to our lives if we learn how to. This documentary can be a good place to start. You can watch it in Netflix.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Secret Life of Fascia

Written by Sifu Nick Taylor

Published in July 2018, this documentary is a beautifully crafted look at what has been until recently a mis-understood and hugely undervalued body system, #fascia.

How, as upright humans, do we move? How do we generate and transmit force (strength) throughout the body? How do we stay upright? How do supposed weaklings overcome great obstacles and forces without any clearly defined muscle mass? The answers to these questions and many more are starting to emerge in the new discoveries about how fascia connective tissue works.

Fascial connective tissue has been used to great effect by humans over many hundreds of thousands of years for hunting and trapping – giving us the ability to run for hours on end without tiring, even giving Bruce Li the ability to generate an ‘elastic’ type of power that with only a subtle amount of body movement can dump a 250lb fighter on his feet – transferring energy through his body that that starts with the big toe and ends in the fist, utilising full activation of all of the body’s fascia at the same time.

Check out this fascinating free documentary on YouTube:

 


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Tai Chi Styles and HoM Lineage

Two weeks ago, one of my students asked me a very unusual question: what tai chi style are we practising? It is not unusual because there are no styles in tai chi, but because people rarely ask. That is why I often take for granted that my students either have this knowledge or are not interested. I may drop in a sentence here and there when there is a class starting in a new territory, but all in all, I often try to get my students physically moving from class one and maybe forget to explain the most essential thing: where what we do in House of Movement comes from.

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There are five main tai chi styles:

Chen Style

Yang Style, including Cheng Man Ching style

Wu Style

Hao Style

Sun Style

 

House of Movement and Devon Tai Chi Centre students are learning #Chen Style tai chi. Chen style is the most traditional tai chi style. It originated in the Chen Village (Chenjiagou) which is the birth place of tai chi. The founder of Chen Style tai chi is believed to be Chen Wangting (1580–1660). As you can see, it has a long history.

 

The Chen style was kept secret within the Chen family for many generations until the knowledge was passed on to Yang Luchan, founder of Yang Style tai chi. Yang Luchan brought tai chi to Beijing where it became very popular.

 

Nowadays, the most popular tai chi style is the yang style. It is the 24 short form yang style that most Chinese people practise everywhere in China.

 

I started my tai chi journey with wu style and yang style. What I loved about the Chen Style was the circularity of its movements, with energy spiralling in and out of different parts of the body. I also loved the ritual that our Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei (19th generation inheritor of the Chen family and 11th generation direct-line successor of Chen Style Taijiquan) follows in his teachings and both Nick and I imitate at the end of our classes. We always thank our masters for all the knowledge passed on to us.

China

Your tai chi lineage comes directly from the birth place of tai chi and one of his inheritors, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. Grandmaster Liming Yue is an indoor student of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, and Sifu Nick Taylor of Devon Tai Chi Centre too. My teachings come to you directly from workshops that I have attended with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, my regular workshops with Grandmaster Liming Yue who runs the Tai Chi Centre in Manchester and some corrections and gentle encouragement from Nick. I have been doing tai chi regularly since 2006 and I became a teacher in 2010.


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Fibromyalgia and qigong

Written by Karen Yeandle – Qigong Instructor and Fibromyalgia sufferer

Fibromyalgia is a condition that involves widespread pain in soft, connective tissue eg. muscles, tendons, ligaments and particularly shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. Other symptoms include sleep deprivation due to pressure being applied to joints when laying down-reduced sleep depletes brain serotonin which increases pain and a vicious circle ensues. Depleted serotonin also causes impaired memory and, for some, depression. Many sufferers report bladder weakness, IBS, unstable core temperature, jumpy legs, numbness and tingling. There are even anecdotal reports of a connection between fibromyalgia and keratoconus of the eyes.

The exact cause of FM is unknown but certain factors predispose it’s onset i.e. a combination of one or more of the following:- trauma, serious accidents/infections, psychological stress e.g. death of a loved one. It also has a genetic potential. This combination of environmental and inherited factors effects the central nervous system.

Fibromyalgia
There is no diagnostic test so symptoms are looked at as a whole with a certain number being registered and other factors ruled out. Currently in the UK 2-8% of the population are affected with women affected roughly twice more than men.

Standard treatment is with opiates e.g. amitriptyline and antidepressants which also work on reducing nerve pain, along with advice to “get more sleep” (far easier said than done!) “diet change and increased exercise”.

I was ‘diagnosed’ with FM c12 years ago having seen numerous GPs and specialists over 2-3 years until one consultant put the pieces together. Like most sufferers, I was prescribed the full range, all of which left me feeling foggy and unable to fully function. I felt I had no option than to stop taking them. Although acupuncture reduced pain and inflammation, increased exercise resulted in tendonitis of both Achilles’ tendons plus golfers and tennis elbow. My sleep deteriorated as pain woke me to turn every 8-10 minutes; my IBS worsened; bladder control was impaired; I could no longer kneel or squat; I could only shower, because I had no strength in my arms or legs to bath; I couldn’t clench my fist‘s; get up or down from the floor or sprint in an emergency. Although I was fortunate not to suffer depression, I struggled to resign myself to the fact that my life was significantly limited and deteriorating.

 

A friend suggested Qigong for its health benefits and after extensive research I found an excellent teacher in Alda at HOM in Dawlish and started in November 2016. Qigong which includes stretching, lengthening and strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments (amongst other physical and mental health exercises) very soon resulted in improved sleep and significantly reduced pain. Such were the notable benefits I started practicing most days and can now bend, stretch, close my hands, stand on one leg, squat and balance. Qigong has been ‘life improving’ and such is my belief it’s exceptional benefits, I further studied and qualified with the British Health Qigong Association as an instructor myself.
Recent controlled trials (Jana Sawynok & Mary E Lynch 2017) also demonstrated noteworthy effects of Qigong on FM where when practiced 30-45 minutes per day over 6-8 weeks, benefits included reduced pain; improved sleep, physical and cognitive function, memory and mood state. FM continues to be the subject of research but to date it appears the greatest success in combating the debilitating symptoms of FM is the regular practice of the wonderful health preserving benefits of Qigong!!

 

About the Author: Karen started Qigong 2 years ago as she with struggling with an ever-deteriorating medical condition that had been diagnosed some 10+ years previously and it had been suggested by a friend of a friend that she try the benefits of Health Qigong. With regular practice the improvement in her overall health was so significant that she decided to study further and, having been a tutor and instructed classes of an altogether different nature in her former career,  she went on to qualify with the British Health Qigong Association (BHQA) in May 2018 as a Qigong Instructor herself. Karen now teaches 3 Qigong classes at Cockwood, Dawlish and Exminster, Devon.