Our Challenge

Hi Folks;

if you have got here well done!Image

The reason you are here is to look at the photos I have put on our Tai Chi Form. I look forward to your feedback!


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Qi- the beginnings of a journey

I am 7 years into practicing Tai Chi and therefore very new to Qi. I am also very interested in it because I have a fragile but growing clarity it is making the biggest difference in my clients lives, not to mention my own. However Qi is such a complex subject and inter-connectable to so much life that this topic will be taken slowly and I am sure I will at times be quite un PC. Before I begin let me say that I may not be a typical Qi aware type person. If I were to box myself using Allison Mooney’s book Pressing the Right Buttons I am clearly a Playful/Powerful with a little precise [thank goodness, many will say]. Words that describe this person are animated, expressive, promoter, vivacious, outgoing, loves variety, fun-loving together with decision maker, opinionated, commanding, focused, restless, likes to lead etc you get the picture. Not really a picture of a restful personality, who is self-aware, patient and at peace this more a ‘peaceful’. Well, fortunately for me some armour chink allowed in the sense of wonderment that working Qi brings to me.

In his book Reflections on Qi Gary Khor engages me and my many levels of desired understanding as well as my increasing respect for how my wellness is connected to my healthy Qi. Gary has identified 7 types of Qi which are

  • medical
  • health
  • martial arts
  • spiritual
  • sexual
  • performance
  • environmental [feng shui]
I could attempt to simplify Qigong and say it is about breath work, that would be as bad as saying leaders are born not made, totally inadequate, so I shall not do this. Instead I shall approach my observations from this powerful/playful personality that I am and that means how it is experienced.
1st- I am learning to distinguish between muscle tension that is unnecessary for performance of exercise and muscle activity that is. To do this I am learning to identify ‘sinking the Qi’ and this is how Gary puts it [I can do no better]
  • The posture should support the flow of Qi throughout the body, this involves the ‘suspended headtop’ technique for proper alignment of the spine as well as the silk-like movement where the joints are kept open. This is achieved through visualising the body hanging down from the crown of the head, like a puppet on a string. Note: I visualise this golden thread picking up my perineum and pulling up through my body and out of the top of my head. It is important that all muscular tension is released and not used to maintain the position and gentle focused 5:8 breathing helps this, and I am just a a beginner at this.
  • the breath should be relaxed, regular and diaphragmatic
  • the intellectual mind should be focused on maintaining a particular rhythm or speed of breath
  • the emotional mind should be calm and relaxed, enjoying the sensor input that performance of the movement brings.
Now if you get hold of Allison’s book and read about Powerful/playful you will see just how difficult but how very good this is for the many of us for whom Tai Chi is the opposite to how we get our life feed.
How difficult it must be for my students who are peaceful/precise to stay with me in class, light-bulb moment
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anyone for a demonstration?

NorthTec Whangarei Campus

Image via Wikipedia

Next Thursday I am putting on a demonstration at NorthTec, Whangarei [that’s Raumanga Valley Road Campus] for the students during their lunch break from 12-1pm the theme is  “Winning Ways to Well Being”  – the parts are:

©       Give

©       Connect

©       Take notice

©       Learn

©       Be active

My brand of Tai Chi Qigong brings connection of the mind and body to the forefront of movement. As I have said before in my blogs we run our lives assuming our bodies will fit into to our demands, when we enjoy exercise or sport we do the same, injury leaves us frustrated and sometimes confused as to why it occurred. It is often later when our consciousness connects to well-being that begin to question our assumptions. The majority of my clients are women in this position.

Thinking women, like the clever squirrel, who now understand and accept self-determination around health and well-being. They have also made the connection around learning during the journey, not arriving at the destination, yayeeeeee they are ones to watch.

What do their bodies and minds give in return?

  • good or re-established sleep patterns
  • strategies to establish good sleep [I have also seen it called sleep toilet or bed toilet; quite strange!]
  • awareness and strategies to manage anxiety and stress
  • an awareness of body mechanics and the avoidable stressing of ligaments and muscles
  • a greater confidence in their body’s ability to respond to emergency situations
  • an understanding their body’s can be physically strong
  • the ability to manage chronic conditions to the point their lives are no longer limited by them, perhaps event an acceptance of these conditions as they discover new options available.
Have you heard of ‘health literacy’? this is an interesting development and one that I shall be blogging about at a later date. Released by Workbase as New Zealand’s Health Literacy Website
Ofcourse the other positive spin-off from this communion of mind and body exercise is a growing friendship and connection, one of humanities intrinsic needs. Standing together in meditative postures or moving during ‘Heart’s gentle rock’ provides the mind and body with its own space for relaxation.
Posted in activity, adult learners UNESCO Government, Anatomy, Cheng Ming Tai Chi Chuan, Exercise, fibromyalgia, Health and Fitness, Northland, peace | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tai Chi Chuan opening my door to Qigung: a special treasure

A special story: Over the last 3 months I have working with a client in her home weekly. This 85-year-old woman had experience 4 bad health years that includes recovery from a severe neurological operation, severe anxiety disorder, loss of balance and panic attacks, insomnia; housebound for some time she had decided to take back control in her life.

This was already evidenced by her taking daily walks with a carer, however any public situation or complex issue was her Achilles heel which had reduced her ability to take part in any kind of gathering to nil.

For 3 months all tai chi and qigong has been performed seated with me demonstrating standing as appropriate, as that is one of our goals, the other for her to join a public class.

During the last 3 months she has left insomnia behind, is using breathing and relaxation techniques to deal with very difficult personal situations, is referring to her growing understanding of confident movement when out walking. Enjoys the occasional dance in her home [with stick]. Can bend down to pull weeds. Took herself for an hour’s walk recently and performed 60% of a recent session standing up: what a mighty role model she is, oh and as important skin tone and quality with shining eyes have become the new norm.

What is there not to love with kind of work.

Role forward to other students starting out with Tai Chi and I immediately see many aspects of me in them. The uncompromising hands, legs, knees; the hands that want to direct and the leg that wobbles when used alone. Well bring Qigong into the picture and immediately we all get a new outlook on what can be achieved through this movement and its inclusion in how I teach Tai Chi and get results.

The firm message I am getting is that Tai Chi That’s For Me succeeds quickly for clients as I mix in so much Qigong, and health benefits are immediate, by this I mean within a couple of weeks. My thoughts are that students learning the traditional form get lost and even bogged down in trying to remember so much, it becomes a trial of memory; and I remember that too. I mix heart and soul movements so that people enjoy themselves and it seems to be making that difference.

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Breathing for a better body and mind

Panda Tai-chi-chuan No.2

We just leave the body to get on with it don’t we? Breathing I mean. Probably when we are working at normal pace we are using our diagram, but sadly this is not certainly the case. When stress enters the picture it is very unlikely; we go into reptilian mode of fight or flight and our breathing often happens in short amounts and from the upper lungs showing at the top of the chest, sometimes we feel we are fighting ourselves to breathe!

#1 cause of health challenges is POOR BREATHING HABITS!

Hopefully this makes sense to you. It might make sense but does that make any difference? Probably not, is my experience. It wasn’t until I had used on many occasions breathing techniques were they then available in a stress situation, really at hand, automatically.  Whenever we are practicing Tai Chi and Qigung we are breathing better, more consciously, this in turn improves our general health.

Tai chi … might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice has value in treating or preventing many health problems.— Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publication, May, 2009

When we prepare for tai chi we check that our tongue is resting on the roof of our mouth, why? Ask yourself; there has to be a reason.


1) It changes the throat structure, so that your breaths become longer breaths. Research shows this is the most effective respiratory beneficial type of breathing.

2) The tongue connects the Governing Vessel, which is the energy meridian running up your back and over your head, with the Conception Vessel, running from the perineum up the front of your body to the lower jaw.

There are so many exercises to enjoy breathing with; here are two from within Cheng Ming. Today an elderly client who is enjoying so many positive life changes as the result of our sessions and her practice, was introduced to these and gave them her immediate approval.

Exercise 1 [Suan Shou Tou Tien Li San Ziao]

Strengthens the stomach and intestines, improving digestion and removing extra fat from the abdomen. Very good for those with poor digestion and constipation, also shown to very helpful for diabetics.

It is good for loosening stiff shoulders as it uses seldom called on muscles in the shoulder and upper arm.

Its greatest merit come from hand movements that cause deep breathing, promoting the circulation of oxygen-rich blood. This revitalises worn-out muscle cells, removes fatigue and rejuvenates the skin.

Stand in a tai chi position, regulate your breathing, turn the palms upward while inhaling and bring the hands closer together in a circular motion toward the centre front.

Knit the fingers in front of the abdomen and raise the hands up to chest level. Turn the palms downward, with the fingers still knit, and bring them down to the lower abdomen whilst exhaling.

Inhaling once again , turn the palm s of the folded hands outside and raise them above the hands and stop. The most important  thing about the stretched posture is to let the Chi penetrate not only into the backbone but also to the finger tips of both hands via the root of the upper arm and elbow and to relax.  Hold the chi in the dan dien. Gently unfold the hands crossed above the head, Bring down the hands in a large circle whilst exhaling, and come back to the natural posture, remain in this posture for a while and compose your breath.

Exercise 2 [Tiao Li Pi Wei Shu Tan Chu]

This exercise removes  stress by strengthening the spleen and the stomach. The chief role of the spleen is to  generate white blood cells, driving out foreign matter and as a blood reservoir.  This exercise massages the stomach as well. When one moves parts of the body in a big circular motion and relaxes one’s mind, one can dispel stress and stabilise a concentrate one’s mind.

Stand naturally, turn the palms up and raise arms to the sternum[breast bone], turn the palms down to stomach level as if pressing air down. Turn the left palm outside and raise it above the had. In the meantime bring the right hand in a circular motion down to the right side of the body.  Synchronise the upward motion of the left hand and downward motion of the right hand by keeping the waist stationary. After a whilst bring the left hand from above head down in a bit circular motion to the left side of the body.

One of the great joys of Tai Chi  and Qigung is the opportunity for the body’s wonderful system to be partially revealed. Breathing for a better body and mind becomes more likely as we learn how we benefit, as our stress moments are more manageable, we come back from increased lung use more quickly.

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Using your soft groin & controlling your empty leg


This week winter weather [great alliteration] has been challenging to attending class. We have had cold and wet but still good attendance, so thank you for turning up.

This week I spent some time demonstrating how I wanted you to start bringing the use of your groins into your tai chi practice. Until now your turns have been created by turning your upper body, this provided some of the beneficial effects of the form through spinal twists, however it didn’t go far enough. The use of the groin in turning requires you think about the ligaments, muscles in the area in addition to the internal massage that is taking place at the same time. I talked about spongy or squashy groins which we identified by turning our bodies in one direction and placing our hands in our groin area at the same time, we could feel one side soft with the other harder.

If you use this understanding when turning, picking up things etc you will be giving your body its best chance to respond safely and effectively, simultaneously offering major organs some massage. This happens as we regularly practice groin sinking and therefore internal twists, and we learn that is from these that we achieve the tai chi look as we are being directed from our tan tien or dan tien and not from our external skeleton.


When we are working from our internal centre directed by our mind we have more control of what and when we do things; this is especially true when we are placing our empty leg down at the heel. To achieve greatest control work on not only sinking in the groin but also in the knee on the full leg. This provides you with the time and ability to decide when you place your soft heel and empty leg down, and by the way, ensures your knee is slightly bent. Keep your mental focus at eye height and thinking about what is happening in your lower body; you may also like to challenge your full leg by holding your position for a period of time.

Weight bearing abounds with this exercise and others we continually practice and by this I mean ‘beautiful woman’ pose and ‘heart’s gentle rock’ 2 absolute favourites of both classes. We know some days are challenging balance wise, and that is just fine, we also know practice, practice, practice brings rewards to how we carry out a pose or movement and to our general health, so many sound reasons to make tai chi part of our lives.

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Promises not always kept

Violet And The Beach Ball

Image by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

This was supposed to go up late last week and didn’t. I was supposed to put photos of grasping birds tail etc. and didn’t get them taken, not the best outcome for the week and I promise to improve.

Remember to squeeze your shoulders together without hunching your back or shoulders, this will bring your arms into the correct position of one palm facing the other as if holding a medium beach ball. When you are ready to push forward from your back leg open your left palm into your right one. Again it is important to keep your posture on track and by that I include a straight line running from you head through your spine to your back foot.

Now the other thing is, I am putting on a Saturday morning class, just searching for the right premises at the moment. Times will be 10-11.30am which allows people to go to the market, have a coffee/shop and come along.

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