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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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.


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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.