Health Tai Chi in Devon

LAUGH LOTS, CALM DOWN, LIVE LONGER, CALL NOW 07437 332032


Leave a comment

11 Short Form – Movement Names

In class, I am very often asked a very basic question, which I sometimes forget to mention while teaching. It is the movement names for the 11 short form that we are learning. Here they are:

  • Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounds the Mortar

This movement begins sinking, as if you were sitting in an invisible stool and bringing your arms up. It finishes when you bring your right first down to your left palm while dropping your right leg to the ground. More weight on the left leg.

  • Lazy About Tying a Coat

It starts at the end of the first movement by opening the right fist into a palm and turning it outward, while the left palm goes down. Remember here is where the “Sun comes up by the West” and as the “sun goes down, the moon (left arm) goes up”. It finishes with left hand holding your waist and right hand in front of you facing forward, with arm extended aligned with your right knee. About 60% weight on your right leg.

  • Six Sealing and Four Closing

It starts with right palm open towards the front right and left palm going to meet it. It finishes by pushing both palms in a roof-like shape in your left shoulder towards the front right of your body, at your hip height. Most of the weight on the right leg.

  • Single Whip

It starts when palms are turning to face up after the last movement and right stays slightly behind to soon make a hook and “Strike a match”, then you kick to the left. It finishes with both arms spread, right arm with a hook at the end, left arm with open palm, about 60% weight on the left leg.

  • White Cranes Spreads its Wings

It starts by opening both hands into palms and shifting the weight to the right, waving the arms propelled by your dantian (like a “washing machine with arms”) and it ends with right arm with palm facing the front beside your head pressing up while left palm is pressing down beside your left hip. Most of the weight on the right leg.

  • Walking Forward with a Diagonal Step

It starts with “Slapping” with the right, then the left arms, then a diagonal kick with your left leg to the front and left. It finishes with your left hand into a hook beside your left knee which is bent, while your left leg carries 70% of the weight, and right hand extended towards the right, body facing forward, sinking and relaxing into both hips.

  • First Closing

It starts with both palms coming closer and turning to face up (right palm slightly behind your left palm) on top of your left knee (remember left leg is carrying a lot of the weight), your hips turning to the right corner, and it finishes by bringing both palms in front of your central line, bringing your left foot in and keeping most of the weight on the right leg.

  • Stepping Forward Three Times

It starts by bringing the arms around in a circular motion towards the right side of your body to continue with left arm going ahead and forward at the same time as your left leg steps forward diagonally. It ends with your body facing the corner after having kicked diagonally, 70% weight on your right leg, and left and right palms crossed in front of you, right palm up, left palm down.

  • Punch with Covering Fist

It starts with shifting the weight to the left leg and bringing the arms to both sides with palms facing down. It ends with your weight 70% on your left leg, your right arm punching forward, your left arm propelled back with palm resting on the side of your body.

  • Step Back and Whirl Arms on Both Sides

It starts with opening your right fist into a palm and the left palm goes over the right arm, both palms facing down, while shifting the weight to the right. It finishes by kicking your right leg back diagonally to the right, keeping the weight to the front, your right palm pushes back, your left palm is pushing forward slightly higher than your right palm.

  • Buddha’s Warrior’s Attendant Pounds the Mortar

It starts by bringing your right palm up facing the right (which will become the front), your left arm down palm facing down, shifting the weight to your right leg and turning your left toes to the right (which will be the front). It finishes with your right fist down to your left palm and dropping your right leg.

 

A deep breath and a humble tai chi salute.

 

Here is a link to a youtube video where you can see the whole form. My recommendation is to put your laptop facing a mirror so that you can practise while mirroring Jamal. Sifu Jamal has been training with Master Liming Yue for many years and is one of his senior indoor students.

 

 

Slán!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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!


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

5 ways of easily practising #tai chi

Driving.jpg

  • Queueing at the bank/supermarket/airport – Bend your knees and Pay Attention: Isn’t it boring to queue at the bank/supermarket/airport or many other places? An interesting and healthy way to use that time is by gently bending your knees (no one will notice) to help increase your blood circulation. Second, you can bring your attention inside. Notice areas of #tension in your body (shoulders, abdomen, back?) and try to release that tension. You don’t need to close your eyes. It might take a little bit of practise at first to notice what is going on inside while keeping your eyes open, but it is an amazing tool you can use at any time. Enjoy your holidays.

 

  • Walking – Pay attention to Your Feet: Again, it is all about paying attention. This time, bring your attention to your feet and how they connect to the ground. Notice how you shift the weight from one foot to the other. Notice whether you tense your legs as you do this, or any other muscle in your body. Notice the quality of the connection to the ground. Are you floating? Are you grabbing the ground? This is called #mindfulness. Try different postures and see how they feel, raise your body, release unnecessary tension, try to walk as comfortably as you can. Enjoy your walk!

 

  • Driving – #Relax Your Shoulders: If you drive long distances and, like me, you don’t particularly like the speed in the motorways, your shoulders might be tightening with the effort and concentration. You don’t really need to tighten your shoulders to concentrate on the road, but we often do it automatically. Lower backs are often also clenched while driving. Pay attention to your shoulders and try to release unnecessary tension, especially when the M5 is really clogged with traffic and you wish you had stayed at home for the weekend. Calm your shoulders, your lower back and you will feel better straight away. If you keep an eye on #relaxing your shoulders while driving, and practise it daily, you will notice that you don’t get those awful #headaches after a long drive. Enjoy the ride!

 

  • While making some tea – Standing/Cloud Hands/Silk Reeling: If you normally have a flavourless cup of tea because you haven’t got the patience to wait for it to brew for a few minutes, try to approach tea making from a tai chi perspective. 1) Put the kettle on. Practise some standing until water boils. 2) Pour the water over your tea cup with tea bag. During those 3-7 minutes that you need to wait, practise cloud hands or silk reeling. 3) Bring your cup of tea to your armchair. Enjoy your soap opera!

 

  • Showering – Sing your Heart Out: This is not a way to practise tai chi, but I bet you it will put you in the right mood for the day, right? Ok, there were only 4 ways of practising tai chi, but hey, singing and dancing should always be in your repertoire, wouldn’t you agree? You are the star. Enjoy the show!


Leave a comment

Chen Grandmasters Teaching Platform

Nick has put together a set of instructions to access:

Head of the Chen Family GRANDMASTER CHEN ZHENGLEI’s Online Teaching Platform

with GRANDMASTER LIMING YUE

Website for accessing Chen Style Tai Chi instructional support materials from Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei & Grandmaster Liming Yue. Please note that the site has dual language capability – English and Chinese. Included with £16.20/ year subscription (less than a DVD) are:-

Grandmaster Chen Zheng Lei:-

GM Chen Zheng Lei’s Tai Chi warm up exercises, Silk Reeling, Qigong exercises, 18 Short Form and instruction, Sword Form and instruction.

Grandmaster Liming Yue

GM Liming Yue’s 8 Short Form and instruction, Sword Form and instruction, Laojia Long Form and instruction. There are 7 other free video links to watch as well.

Go to www.chenzhenglei.co.uk and select Sign up & Log in. You will get to this page:

Membership

Select Sign up and click on Platform Member which is £18/year.

Select View Basket and apply Coupon code:- 049nick to get 10% discount (£16.20).

Coupon

Update your Basket, then proceed to Checkout and complete the rest of the payment and other info requirements.

If you have any doubts or questions, please ask in class.


Leave a comment

3 tips to start practising at home

If you would like to start doing some sort of exercise, or meditation daily at home (tai chi, qigong or other) please bear in mind these tips to start a home practice.

1. Pick a time, choose the duration and stick to it: The first thing you need to do is creating a habit of doing something healthy at home. Pick a time when you can be by yourself and relax. Try not to exercise in the first 30 minutes after you wake up and after you have eaten a good meal. Other than that, any time is good.

Try to be gentle with yourself, and free one or two days from your “daily” practice, if you feel the need for it. Also, keep in mind that 5 minutes every day for a month is better than 30 minutes and burning out in one week. Aim at doing it for a month or two and plan to re-assess. Remember that at this stage you are trying to create a habit. You can practise longer at a later stage.

2. Practise what you enjoy the most: If you force yourself to do the hardest movements that we do in class or those that you don’t remember, you are going to stop practising at home. You will feel defeated. Instead, try to do some easy breathing exercises, warm-ups, silk reeling, or just tai chi stance, anything that you enjoy doing and make you want to continue practising. Remember you are just creating a habit. You can do the whole form or practise the hardest movements at a later stage.

3. Find complementary materials: While books, DVDs and youtube videos can be distracting and keeping you seated in your sofa, they can also be helpful to start a home practice. You can listen to a guided meditation available in youtube, check GM Liming Yue’s free or subscribed videos, or study one of the Chinese health qigong books and instructional DVDs. All of these while you are moving or meditating.

Please respect your practice time, stick to it, do what you enjoy the most and use complementary materials, if they will help.

Best of luck!


Leave a comment

The Tai Chi Journey or the Silk Reeling Journey

When I first started my tai chi journey back in 2006, I just wanted to relax, but I was very eager to learn a full tai chi form. This may sound familiar to you. I was learning wu style tai chi and then yang style tai chi long forms. I spent 4 years doing these tai chi forms and despairing at not finishing any of them. My teacher was going too slowly for me, I used to think. 10 years have passed since then. Now, I do chen style tai chi, the most traditional one, and I train regularly with my husband Sifu Nick Taylor from Devon Tai Chi Centre and Grandmaster Liming Yue. I haven’t finished the long form (Laojia) and I am okay with it. What has changed? Tai chi has become a journey, not a destination.

I know that I am learning with every movement that I do, and how fast or how much I am learning has become irrelevant. I have learnt to follow my body, my female cycle, my personal desires. I rest when I need to rest, I train when I need to train, but most of all I repeat what I know once and again and again. Each time I move, my movements have a different feeling. Each time I move, I learn until I reach a plateau. This plateau is very annoying, and I get stuck and I am not sure what I need to learn next. I get bored. I decide to continue going to classes and workshops. This will happen to you too. At this stage, many of you leave or start a new endeavour. One day, in a class, you will see a new nuance, same words will have a different meaning, like it happens to me. You will finally understand what was hidden years ago. Your body understands and moves and relaxes in a different way. That has happened to me a few times. My soul starts soaring again. I smile. I take pleasure in my new learnt detail. And I go back to the basics, applying my new learning to the most basic movement: silk reeling.

Silk reeling has so much to teach me that I need to go back to it again and again. Silk reeling exercises prepare your body for the tai chi forms. Silk reeling helps you to experiment with the new details that you learn. As I go back to silk reeling, I practice the new details that I have learnt: relaxing my shoulders, my hips, my wrists; keeping my body straight, or my head; becoming more aware of my breath or my back muscles, or my lower back position; checking whether I am too focused on my front, or my back, my left or my right side; following my qi, feeling it, becoming a good friend to it.

 

So many things I need to learn from silk reeling exercises that my tai chi journey often feels like a silk reeling journey.


Leave a comment

The liver – Teachings from the Wood Element

In Chinese medicine, each organ in the body is associated with an element of nature. The liver is related to the wood element. When talking about wood, we necessarily think of the plants and trees that surround us. A strong tree grows from a very small seed. Equally, our strength is built by small, gentle movements in every qigong class.

 

The wood element teaches us about flexibility, reminding us that we need to yield when times are hard and remain grounded within ourselves to find strength and wave our personal struggles. A perfect balance of rootedness and lightness comes to mind when we talk about the wood element. This is the basis of Zhan Zhuang meditation, also known as the tree posture. We keep our feet deep in the ground while our upper body releases unnecessary weight, becoming lighter.

The liver meridian maintains the health of tendons and ligaments, which keep us resilient as they hold our skeletal structure together. When we focus on qigong movements that enhance our liver qi and meridian, we are working on our entire body.

The wood element teaches us about patience, gentleness and compliance. It is associated with the colour yellow-green of the first Spring buds. You can boost your wood element by enveloping your qigong movements with these colours, visualising your body filled with green as if a rebirth was taking place. You are becoming a new Spring bud of yourself each Spring and each time you practice qigong. You can also boost your wood element by eating green foods, full of chlorophyll: kale, lettuce, chard.

Anger

The liver meridian controls the smooth flow of qi in your whole body, as well as the circulation of blood. The liver is the planner, while the gall-bladder is the decision-maker. To help the planner, we need a tempered and balanced emotional life. This is friendly to the liver, while excessive emotions disrupt this meridian. At times, it may be difficult to avoid excessive anger, sadness, or frustration, especially if one lives with a chronic condition, but it is important to release these emotions to balance the health of the liver meridian.

 

There are different ways to release excessive emotions, but I guess the most important one is not being afraid of them and not keeping them inside: draw a few lines in a piece of paper, like a sort of art piece, talk to a trusted friend about your frustration or to a professional counsellor, write down your anger, sadness or even excessive joy, keep grounded and balanced, get to know yourself and your triggers, maybe those emotions would not be so overwhelming if you looked at them from a different perspective.

 

Let the liver teach you about patience while you continue your practice.

PS: This post is inspired in the information found in the book Women’s Qigong for Health and Longevity by Deborah Davis.


Leave a comment

Progressive Relaxation for Insomnia

Last week, I asked in one of my classes who had problems sleeping. I was surprised to hear that out of six students, four could not have a good night sleep. My knowledge of the nervous system tells me that lack of sleep might be due to an overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system (stress response), and tools to calm down and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response) are needed to get a good night sleep.

Your body’s stress response can be triggered in an instant, while your body’s relaxation response needs at least 20 minutes to be active. With practice, you may need less time. But to begin with, you will need to spend about 20 minutes relaxing at least 3 times per week to get any results.

Progressive muscular relaxation is often offered as a stress management tool to help activate the relaxation response in your body. I am certain that the same tool can help you get a better night sleep. Progressive muscular relaxation consists of contracting and relaxing different muscles in your body to find a deep calm inside.

Here is a guided progressive muscular relaxation video that I found in youtube. It is exactly 20 minutes, which is what you need to relax. Please be aware that insomnia will not be sorted in one attempt. Be patient. You will  need to be constant and practice. This is one of the tools that you can use. If it is not for you, there are other tools available. Do not despair. I hope that this may be of help.


Leave a comment

Chen Style Tai Chi Links and DVDs

Since January 2018, Devon Tai Chi Centre and House of Movement have grown exponentially. We have now over 200 students between the two schools. We have also observed a growing number of recommendations from GPs, physiotherapists and other practitioners. Many of these new students are very enthusiastic about the new journey they are undertaking, and would like to know more, to watch videos at home, to start practising a little.

Here are some free links to youtube videos of all the forms that you can learn with Devon Tai Chi Centre and House of Movement and also some DVDs that you can buy from our Chinese master Liming Yue’s website:

Tai Chi Classes:

Click on the links to go to the youtube videos.

Click on the link to go to Grandmaster Liming Yue online shop.

If you haven’t joined a class, and are interested in doing so, please visit Find a class on my website or Nick’s website: www.devontaichicentre.com.

I hope you will find all the information you need. If not, please do contact us.

Alda: 07437 332032

Nick: 07968 174934