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 Tui Na massage and its benefits

Written by Nick Taylor –

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.

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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.


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.



6 propiedades medicinales de la manzanilla


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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:, 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.


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.


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 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:

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

Alda: 07437 332032

Nick: 07968 174934