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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What is the difference between Buddism and Taoism? How about Christianity?

Last week, after a brief sitting meditation in class, one of my students asked me this question: what is the difference between Buddhism and Taoism? She asked “me” because I explained before the meditation that I had trained with Buddhist and Taoist meditators. This question has been asked before, so I thought that I would share my views about the topic.

First, I am not an expert on Buddhism or Taoism, as I am not an expert in “spirituality”. I am only a human being with certain spiritual experiences. As a child, I grew up in a Catholic family who used to go to mass every Sunday. I loved going to church because we used to sing and people were very quiet. To me, it felt good inside. Praying was part of my daily life until I became a young adult. It made me feel calm and relaxed, reassured that God would look after me.

In my twenties, I moved to Ireland, where the Catholic church was being sued for atrocious crimes to children. I started to feel ashamed to tell my friends that I used to be a Catholic and going to mass used to make me feel good. I kept it to myself, and I let my spirituality die. Until I discovered the Eastern meditation practices during my tai chi classes. What I loved about them was that they made me feel good inside, just as praying did when I was a child. I was training for a long time with Jan Golden, tai chi instructor and Buddhist practitioner, and I did Taoist workshops, attended a Jesuit-Indian meditation workshop, and mindfulness sessions led by a caring female energy healer, called Ann Margaret. All of these practices made me feel good inside, made me feel connected to a higher power, to God, to the universe, to whoever you want to call it.

Jesus.jpg

Master Liming Yue said once that spirituality is like connecting to the Internet of the spirit, and each religion is a different broadband that allows you this connection. For me, Christianity and Buddhism have a rather sad, pessimistic flavour that I am not too keen on. But some people are very happy Christians and Buddhists. Most of the Taoists that I met in my life were very cheerful and quick to laugh, so I am very drawn to them. They remind me of my Catholic grandfather who used to say: “Where there is love, there is no sin” always with a smile in his face. But he was a very liberal Catholic, and I haven’t met many along the way. Because of him, possibly, I believe Jesus’ energy and his love cannot compete with Lao Tse in my heart. That is because I prefer Jesus broadband to connect to the universe, but I am often using a Taoist provider. Does this all make sense? Maybe not. Does it matter? Possibly not.

So what is the difference between Buddhism and Taoism? I haven’t got a clue. I have never trained long enough in any of these practices to know. But I do know that their pratices feel the same as Christianity, as walking in nature, as sharing a difficult time with another human being, as a child’s smile, as a heart-felt hug, as being a witness of someone’s fear of death, as any spiritual moment that I’ve ever experienced in my life.


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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.


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Qigong Links & DVDs

Qigong consists of gentle, yet powerful exercises that have been evidenced in China to prevent illness and relieve some of the chronic conditions’ symptoms. It is no surprise that most acupuncturists and shiatsu practitioners need to practice qigong as part of their training. House of movement offers two qigong classes at the moment, in Chudleigh and Dawlish. Please go to Find a class to find more information.

Qigong Classes:

Click on the links to go to the youtube videos.

Click on the links to buy books and instructional DVDs in Amazon.

If you are not attending any of these classes because of location or timetables, but you would like to join us in our workshops, please send me your email to houseofmovement@gmail.com and I will put you in my mailing list so that you can hear of all our events. You will receive a monthly newsletter (called Lighthouse) with all the information about workshops plus wellbeing news.


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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

 


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The legend of a wise grandmaster

Written by Monse Razamonde and translated into English by Alda Gomez

The future chronicle of Grandmaster’s Chen Zhenglei’s seminar in Manchester in April 2017 could be as follows:

The legend tells that a wise Tai Chi Master from China arrived to the city of Manchester (United Kingdom) in April of Christian year 2017. His sweet wife Lili Lu and another Master called Kuang and his young apprentice arrived with him. The wise Grandmaster was not other than Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, a high authority in tai chi in those days.

To emphasize the power of new technologies, the Master organising the visit, Liming Yue, chose a small space for this visit so that the event could be shown to the world by 9 cameras. They were meant to broadcast the wise Master’s skill. Only 40 people had direct access to such significant event. Different countries were represented by disciples and indoor students of the wise Master, anxiously waiting for his words and his lifelong knowledge.

His greatness was soon appreciated, because a Grandmaster is a Grandmaster everywhere he goes and in any conditions presented. Their only requirement is being in front of empty souls looking forward to being filled with their insights.

The wise Master Chen only spoke Chinese, and Master Liming interpreted his words…into English, which was the only language used in the translation, even though this language equals the Spanish one in the world.

But tai chi is a very curious thing that can be learnt by osmosis and it becomes magic for those making efforts to understand its universal language, which goes beyond words. The 70-year-old wise Master transmitted more with his gestures and his movements than with any of the words in the world, having his words already been registered in many books and videos. These books and videos can only be fully assimilated when you see the wise Master moving in front of you in flesh and blood.

The legend tells that two Spaniards were among the attendants to the event: Master Mariano Uceda and his disciple Monse. Both barely understood the English language. But they decided to appeal to the tai chi magic, connect to their enlightened ancestors, who also connected to the enlightened ancestors of tai chi masters, and that is how they received the teachings that they were ready for at that time. The legend continues saying that the wise Master saw that the transmission of his teachings had been accomplished, even to those two conscientious Spaniards who admired the wise Master good skill. He rewarded them with his warmth and his smile, grateful that his teachings wouldn’t end up floating in the universe waiting for more prepared minds to receive them.

Being in front of a wise Master to be corrected and guided in your tai chi is the biggest thing that one can experience as a tai chi practitioner. Lucky are those who have found a Master who guides them with honesty and affection. Only those of us who have a Master like that can tell how valuable that is because you know that you are in the right track even when you may not know the destination. The legend tells that in those days many got lost because they couldn’t recognise this simple fact. This is so because the right way is not sumptuous or glamorous; it is only illuminated by Masters as wise as Master Chen. But it has a shorter length than the Master’s because they started later; it only takes knowing how to read the universe to see them and feel the potential they hold inside. The transmission of tai chi worldwide, no matter where you are, will never then be lost.

Thank you to MY MASTERS (MiM)

 

P.S.: If a Master recognizes that in certain occasions the qi circulation varies between men and women and that is a topic that could be spoken about for a while, then he must be elevated among the rest of human beings. Maybe a new era of a more balanced yin-yang has truly started.


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Health Qigong Sets

In the House of Movement, Alda teaches exercises from 4 main health qigong sets: Ba Duan Jin (eight treasures), Wu Qin Xi (five animal qi gong), Yi Jin Jing and Mawangdui.

What is Ba Duan Jin?

Also known as eight pieces of brocade or eight-section exercises, Ba Duan Jin is composed of eight movements, which have been proven to improve the respiratory system, limb strength, and joint flexibility. It fortifies the nerves, as well as enhancing balance. It can strengthen the immune system and delay the aging process, increasing life span. It can also improve one’s mental health. Ba Duan Jin exercises can be practised in standing and sitting positions. The first reference to Ba Duan Jin appeared in a book written by Hong Mai of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). (From Ba Duan Jin, Chinese Health Qigong, 2008)

What is Wu Qing Xi?

Also known as five animal qi gong or five animal frolics, Wu Qin Xi consists of ten exercises emulating the movements of five animals: tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird. This qi gong set was conceived by Hua Tuo, a doctor who lived in the first hundred years of our era. He based his system on traditional exercises, theories on internal organ and meridian function, and qi and blood circulation principles, as well as animal observation. He observed the five animals and arrived at the conclusion that they moved in a certain way to preserve their health. The movements are mainly based on three components: integration of external physical exercises, natural breath, and imitation of the animal mood. (From Wu Qin Xi, Chinese Health Qigong, 2008)

 

What is Yi Jin Jing?

Yi Jin Ying exercises are believed to have their origin in ancient shamanic practices. They are thought to have been developed by Bodhidharma, who was the creator of Zen Buddhism, according to legend, and founder of Shaolin martial arts in China. Because Buddhism required a lot of sitting meditation, yi jin jing exercises were used to stretch the body and keep it healthy. The exercises focus on tendon stretching and bone flexing, and combine softness with strength. Natural breath and a calm mind are also added to allow the free flow of vital energy (qi) through the body. (From Yi Jin Jing, Chinese Health Qi Gong, 2008)

What is Mawangdui?

The Mawangdui tombs are located in the Hunan Province in China. In 1973, a wooden chest was found with ancient medical documents. A silk painting was discovered and restored, depicting daoyin health preservation exercises. The Chinese Health Qigong Association compiled the Mawangdui Daoyin Shu exercises following meridian theory, so that each of the twelve movements focuses on one of the twelve body meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The exercises are based on rotating and stretching, alternating tension with relaxation, breathing naturally and keeping a clear mental focus on the movements. As each of the exercises is done, attention is paid to the corresponding meridian. (From Mawangdui Daoyin Exercises, Chinese Health Qi Gong Association, 2012)


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5 a day or 10 a day?

This post was born as a reaction to an article published in The Telegraph: Eat 10 fruit and veg a day for a longer life, not five, summarized in the same news bulletin as such: “The “five a day” rule should be doubled to 10 pieces of fruit and vegetables, a major study has said as it found that increasing consumption dramatically decreases the chance of disease.”

I have recently adjusted my diet to include more fruit and vegetables, but I am not counting them. I am sure that I eat more than 5 servings a day, and probably around 10 if not more, so I thought I could share my calculation method, in case it could be useful. Please bear in mind that I am not a nutritionist and I am not offering expert advice, only personal opinions. I am feeling more energized with my new diet, but it might not be the case for you, so please keep that in mind when reading this.

My approach to diet is based on the alkaline-acidic balance in my body (my pH). I know that meat, cheese, milk, pasta, rice, bread, cakes. etc.) have a high level of acid. I know my body needs a alkaline-acidic balance, so I add fruit and vegetables accordingly to achieve a higher balance. Fruit and vegetables are generally alkaline, especially green-leafy vegetables and lemons.

This means that I can still eat a home-made burger with chips if I wish to. This is a very acidic meal, even if I add a bit of lettuce or other vegetables, so I make sure that I compensate this acidity with a highly alkaline snack or meal later or earlier in the day (smoothie, vegetable soup, etc.). I may also drink my water with a squeeze of lemon to compensate the acidity. You can also complement a very acidic meal with a delicious home-made fruit salad for dessert.

This may sound simpler than it is. There are books with tables of alkaline and acidic foods. There are charts with levels of acidity and alkalinity in the food we eat. I have seen charts with different criteria for different foods, so it can be confusing. For example, blueberries can be slightly acidic, even though most fruits are alkaline, and brown rice is less acidic than white rice.

As a general rule, think that in an acidic-alkaline balanced dish, you would have 25% protein (meat), 25% carbohydrates (rice), and 50% fruit and vegetables. Last but not least, consider this very interesting point: because stress is acidic and relaxation is alkaline, do not worry too much about your diet, and smile at life. That may just do the trick.


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Staying or leaving revisited

Last August, I was talking to one of my students in the annual tai chi in the park and picnic that we organized in Shaldon (Devon), and he made a comment about my previous post “Staying or leaving“. He said that he would like to hear about what happened after I left Ireland. My last words in the previous post were that I found happiness in Ireland and it had been with me ever since. I arrived to Devon in 2014, so he was wondering what happened those years. I will explain why I didn’t need to mention Devon.

Happiness is not a place: What I meant by happiness is also called “inner joy”. I happened to find inner joy in Ireland, but it could have happened in Spain, or in the UK. Inner joy has no place, but in your heart/body/gut. It means that you can be anywhere in the world and feel it. How? By staying present to what you are really feeling. By tuning into your body awareness and realise that deep inside you are and feel okay. I learnt how to do this in Ireland through my counselling journey and my tai chi and qigong practice.

self-hug-love

Happiness is not a feeling: Inner joy is not a feeling, but it comes from staying present to your feelings. It means that you can be sad and still feel inner joy. How? By staying present to what you are really feeling. If you accept whatever it is that you are feeling, you will feel inner joy. I am not talking about changing your moods so that you are laughing even though you are feeling really down. I am talking about feeling really down if that is what you are feeling. I am talking about minding yourself when you have sad feelings and love who you are in those feelings. That brings instant inner joy.

So what I found in Ireland is inner joy, what I called “happiness” in my previous post. In Devon, I had sad moments, happy moments, fearful and anxious moments, and angry moments, but all in all, inner joy has never left me.

 

 


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Classes in 2017

Devon Tai Chi Centre has a new website with all the classes taught by Alda Gomez of House of Movement and Nick Taylor of Devon Tai Chi Centre. You will also find a lot of information about tai chi and useful videos and interesting links. Click on the links that interest you to find more information about the classes.

Tai Chi

Qigong

Health Tai chi in Devon

Laugh lots, live longer, do tai chi! 

Call 07437 332032

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Grandmaster Liming Yue’s teachings during his 2016 visit

A few lessons were learnt during Grandmaster Liming Yue visit to Devon, but here are some of them:

1) Do more standing and get strong legs: Grandmaster Liming encouraged us to do more standing to get stronger legs and being able to feel the energy flowing through our meridians and channels. After a lot of detailed postural work on Saturday, he explained the different hand positions for standing corresponding to the three main Dantians in the body.

masterliming

 

2) Relax as much as you can: Another point emphasized during the weekend was relaxing. In order to get strong legs and a correct posture, our bodies need to relax more and more. GM Liming showed different tips to improve our posture while gently encouraging us to relax all the time. 

Wall standing

3) Laughter is the best medicine: From the moment he arrived til he left, the whole group shared many laughs. We laughed over food, we laughed over simple explanations and jokes during our training, we laughed while we had our last cup of tea before going to bed. It was a laughter-full weekend. GM Liming showed us that being childlike brings health and laughter to our lives.

By laughing more, standing more and relaxing more, we can improve our tai chi skill. What a wonderful weekend, full of fantastic learning opportunities for all levels. It was also lovely to catch up with other instructors from Tai Chi Nation, Exeter School of Tai Chi Chuan, and other schools all over the country. I can’t wait for next year to experience more of it.