Health Tai Chi in Devon

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Why do I do tai chi ?

Recently, I was reading the article “Why do you practice tai chi” in Patience tai chi. And it got me to start asking myself questions. I am prone to self-enquiry as it is, so a new door was opening for me: what was the reason for my tai chi practice? Believe me, the moment I started to ask myself that question, I had no idea. And I bet you I still have no idea. But my mind looks for certainty, so it’s telling me a few stories about the reasons for my tai chi practice, and they seem to be quite reasonable and convincing. Here is what my mind says:

It is good for your health. Your lower back pains are over.

It is cheaper than a GP visit every second month.

You take responsibility for your health, so you are the boss.

You meet beautiful & relaxed people.

You are becoming a beautiful and relaxed person.

Your skin feels softer than ever.

Your brain functions better and your concentration has improved.

You have more energy for the numberless things you are interested in.

Your mood has improved so you always feel like doing all of those things.

You don’t get as angry as you used to, and laugh more often.

The chi feels better that a surge of adrenaline.

It actually feels so good that you don’t want to stop practising.

You feel more grounded, as if you had roots, and that gives you a sense of belonging.

You feel spiritually connected to the world.

Obviously, if my heart was to speak, only one line would be enough to answer what reasons I have for my tai chi practice:

I practice tai chi because I love it!

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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.


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Book Review: Energy Medicine by Donna Eden

I believe that this book is a must-have in every library for anyone who is an energy worker. As tai chi and qigong are Chinese exercise methods that work transforming the energy in your body, I am not surprised that this book has eventually crossed my path. Both Nick and I are avidly reading and doing the energy exercises recommended by Donna to restore general health. Nick is reading “Energy medicine” which is the general book for anyone interested in improving their general #health, knowing about your #energies anatomy, getting your energies balanced, #energy testing, the five rhythms of the season wheel and much more energy-related knowledge. I am reading “Energy medicine for women” who would interest any woman struggling with #hormone imbalances, thyroid problems, #PMS, #fertility issues, #pregnancy discomfort, #menopausal symptoms, #osteoporosis o #weight loss worries.

Both books are a mixture of theory about energy and practical movements, massages and tapping techniques to help you improve your health. To give you a snap-shot of what you will learn in the book, please have a look at this youtube video where Donna Eden demonstrates her daily energy routine.


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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!


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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.


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What is Tui Na massage and its benefits

Written by Nick Taylor – http://www.devontuina.com

Founded in China, Tui Na has a long history of development, and archaeological evidence suggests that massage was carried out over 3,000 years ago. Tui Na – pronounced Twee Nah, is a mainstay method of treatment and rehabilitation in modern China, and a key part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is a system of massage techniques and manipulations that help the body’s musculoskeletal system to heal and recover. Traditional Chinese Medicine is founded on the concepts of treating the body as an integrated whole, Yin and Yang theory, five element theory and the meridians, or channels through which energy flows.

Tui Na manipulations stimulate acupoints and other parts of the body to restore balance and heal the body. Tui Na can also be used as a method of preventative healthcare, Chinese forefathers kept their Qi energy and blood flowing freely, strengthening their tendons and bones, eliminating fatigue and helping to promote longevity.

Nick with a client

In a similar way that there are five main family named styles of Tai Chi and numerous forms of Qigong, there are many schools of Tui Na that have evolved in China, each with it’s own style, strengths and therapeutic effects. From the many differing approaches that developed throughout China, five main schools became famous, all of which have influenced modern Tui Na, and are the one-finger meditation school – Yi zhi chan tui fa; the rolling school – Gun fa; the point pressure school – An fa; the striking school; and the Internal exercise school -Neigong.

Tui Na has the ability to: –

  • Promote and invigorate the flow of blood and Qi
  • Expel, clear and dissipate pathogenic factors
  • Regulate Qi and blood
  • Harmonize Yin and Yang
  • Nourish, tonify, strengthen and support Qi and blood, Yin and Yang
  • Release and relax the channel sinews
  • Lubricate and facilitate the movement of joints
  • Soothe Qi and calm the spirit

With it’s long history and development, in modern times Tui Na can help with the following conditions and problems: –

  • Sports injury
  • Knee, hip and Achilles pain
  • Back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Painful, tight muscles
  • Tendonitis, bursitis, R.S.I.
  • Migraine, stress and headache
  • Frozen shoulder, Golfer’s/Tennis elbow
  • Arthritic pain
  • Work related injuries
  • Preventative healthcare, protecting the body and enhancing longevity
  • Lower limb, foot and ankle pain issues
  • Sciatica and sacroiliac joint problems

 

Author: Sifu Nick Taylor, Tai chi master, Reiki master and TuiNa massage therapist.

http://www.devontuina.com


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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!


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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.


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Chamomile tea for anxiety, insomnia and hay fever

Recently, the pollen count has been very high, and I have been struggling to keep my sneezes out of class, not being successful all the time with a sneeze even interrupting a meditation. I am sure some of you know what I am talking about. Last week, I woke up at 5:30am with an itchy nose and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I tackle the issue by drinking a cup of chamomile tea which it is a natural antihistaminic, I read somewhere.

ChamomileTea

As a child in Spain, I often heard that chamomile tea was good for indigestion, conjunctivitis and skin conditions, so I decided to research chamomile tea, and found that it helps with the following issues:

  • Anxiety and insomnia

Many researchers believe that chamomile tea may function like a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that can reduce anxiety and induce sleep. If you are like me, who likes staying away from medication as much as possible, this could be a good alternative.

  • Hay fever

According to Chinese medicine, hay fever indicates that there is heat in the body. Chamomile tea has a cooling effect on the body, which relieves the symptoms of hay fever, even when you drink it hot. You can also keep the bags and used them to sooth your itchy eyes.

  • Conjunctivitis

Chamomile tea relieves symptoms of conjunctivitis, including red, itchy, irritated eyes. As we have seen before, tea bags can be applied directly to the eyes.

  • Indigestion

Even though my granny used to warn me that drinking too much chamomile tea could not be good for me, she always suggested a cuppa if I had an aching stomach. Chamomile tea works for most “tummy” aches because it relaxes the intestinal muscles and reduces gastrointestinal inflammation. It helps with cholic, gastritis and nausea. So let’s keep it in mind for our stomach bugs. It might help with that too.

  • Slows down or prevents osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the progressive loss of bone density. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is most common among post-menopausal women. This tendency may be due to the effects of estrogen.

A 2004 study found that chamomile tea might have anti-estrogenic effects. It also helped promote bone density, but the study’s authors caution that further research is needed to prove this apparent benefit.

  • Skin problems

Research has found that chamomile ointments may help with eczema and mild inflammatory skin conditions. It is said to be a good exfoliant as it tends to get rid of dead skin cells.

Please note that I am not a doctor and I am only sharing this information as a curiosity and in case it may help you with mild and temporary symptoms. If your condition persists or you have a negative reaction to chamomile tea, stop using it straight away. We are all different and we need different things for our bodies.

 

References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320031.php

6 propiedades medicinales de la manzanilla

http://www.goodzing.com/remedies/rhiannon-griffiths/chamomile-tea-for-itchy-hay-fever

 


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Privacy Policy

I, Alda Gomez of House of Movement, collect, store and process personal information about you to enable me to run my tai chi and qigong classes successfully. This information can include contact information, as well as information about your health (mental and physical) and other special category data. I need this information in order to inform you of any cancellations in the running of my classes. I am able to collect this information upon the legal basis of “Legitimate Interests”, as per GDPR regulations.

 

In the form where I collect this information, you can tick a box to receive my monthly newsletter “The Lighthouse”. If you have ticked this box, you will receive an email from me every month with the newsletter, and maybe additional emails regarding the general running of my classes (not more than 3 a year). You can unsubscribe from this mailing list at any time.

 

Your information is stored in my files and will not be shared with any third party.  Occasionally, I may use your data to compile statistics about common illnesses experienced by my students, but the results will only be shared anonymously. Every three years, I will delete any contact information regarding students who do not come to class anymore or are not part of my mailing list.

 

With regards to how this information is used, you have the right to have information about you deleted, have inaccuracies corrected, the right to access information about you  – free of charge – within 1 month, the right not to receive any unsolicited marketing, the right to determine how information about you is processed and the right to complain if you are unhappy about any of the above by contacting the Information Commissioners Office here: https://ico.org.uk/concerns/, although I trust that you will try to discuss this with me in the first instance.

 

Should anything happen to me that prevents me from attending my classes and from communicating with you directly – such as illness or death – then my husband, Nick Taylor, also a tai chi instructor, would be able to access your contact details to inform you should this situation arise.


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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.