Archive for Tai Chi

Balancing Tai Chi

For older people falling is one of the more frequent causes of trauma. Tai Chi (Taiji) is a classical Chinese movement method for being more stable in your body (and emotions, mind, and spirit). In its full flower it is a potent martial art, but most people practice it for health purposes today.

Tai Chi Decreases Falling

Tai Chi is a practice that is proven to decrease the number of falls that senior citizens take. By extension, probably everybody who learns some Tai Chi becomes less prone to falling. There have been a number of studies that look at Tai Chi practice and vertical stability. I remember first reading about such a study one in the mid-nineties. A group of senior citizens were taught a simplified Tai Chi form 2 times a week for 10 weeks. Their number of falls decreased significantly. Other exercise programs tested did not give that kind of physical stability. Even months after the end of the class the number of falls amongst them stayed at the lower levels. There have been several such studies about the efficacy of Tai Chi. The one I am referring to is known as the Emory Study. It can be found (among other places) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in the May 3, 1995 issue.

 

 

You Can Learn to be More Balanced

Taiji (Tai Chi) is, among other aspects, a precise method of developing body awareness, physical relaxation, structural alignment and body unity. If you are not too stable now, Taiji can teach and train you to become more physically stable, more dynamically able. Balance in your body, in this world, is not set in stone, but can be greatly improved. If you are like most people, when you were learning how to walk—and then growing up—you got little or no express guidance in the best way to stand, walk, stride, jog, run, or change directions with skill and safety. Few people have. You probably just scrambled and ambled as best as you could figure out at the time. This probably left some less-than-optimal habits that still influence you today, habits that lead to more or less instability. These can be changed with Tai Chi training.

Taiji wardoff 2d

How Tai Chi Improves Balance

Slow Movement: Slow and deliberate movement builds strength, body awareness and presence of mind. You can pay attention to motions that were tripping you up when you went at normal or fast speed.

Rooting: Rooting means learning to sink your weight into the earth. This makes you less tippy. You learn to step by sinking the power of the standing leg into the earth and slowly rolling your other foot onto the ground in front of you. You don’t go all out, all-now with the step, but rather commit in a steady, forward and down continuum.

Smooth Movement: Taiji smoothes the rough spots. Taiji polishes ratchety movements and crotchety joints.

Soft Stepping: Instead of plodding and plopping down you practice placing each foot gently. It is a foot “fall” only in the sense that feather falls to the ground on a breath of wind.

Kiss the ground with your foot: Don’t stomp it.

Relaxation: Tension leads to instability, vertical uncertainty and wobbliness. The relaxation training of Taiji naturally brings more ease and space to rigid muscle fibers and compressed joints.

Breathing: By making your breath more full, low into the belly, even and smooth you gain an automatic improvement of stability.

Getting out of Your Head: Being overly heady as you walk is dangerous. By not paying attention to your surroundings you could trip over any little thing. Tai Chi practice helps you become aware of the ground in the present moment.

Tai Chi Secrets: Learning such Tai Chi “secrets” as the Loading the Kua, Turning from the Gate of Life, Separation of Yin and Yang, Song, and Peng helps you greatly in your movement strength and abilities.

For instance, practicing the Separation of Yin and Yang; instead of being all balled up in one congealed mass, you differentiate the parts that are the stable from those in motion. Envision a panther stroking the ground in its majestic walk, flexibly reaching then bringing back—always stable, always soft, always in full control.

Find a Tai Chi Teacher

The form I am teaching this Autumn is based on the 10-movement form taught to those study participants. If you are not in my geographical area I encourage you to seek out Tai Chi where you are. There are more and more experienced practitioners and teachers out there. The sooner you learn it the sooner you will start to reap the benefits. A little Tai Chi practice can make an outsized contribution to your life. It is best to begin your balance training before you are a senior citizen, when you are likely to have more falls. If you have already reached that golden plateau, there is even more reason to seek out the practice.

The Balancing Tai Chi Form

The ten movements of the compact form mentioned above, as I am teaching it, are:

This short Tai Chi form is performed on a line, rather in circles like the Simple Taiji Forms. The line goes from right to left. It is easy to learn and fun to practice. Later we will perform the mirror version, stepping on a right-handed line. 

Left Line

1. Opening Tai Chi (Face North):

     – Feet-Together

      – Step out to the Left to Shoulder Width

      – Raise, Press, Receive and Lower Hands (Peng, Ji, Lu, An)

2. Ward Off Left (Face West)

3. Rollback (Turn Waist North)

4. Press (Face West)

5. Push (Face West)

6. Cloud Hands Left (Face North, Move West)

7. Single Whip Left (Face West)

8. Left Kick (to Southwest)

9. Right Kick (to Northwest)

10. Conclusion (Face North)

      – Step to Shoulder Width with Right Leg

      – Gather Qi, Press Crossed Wrists Down

     – Bring Left Leg to Feet-Together

 

 

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Practice Right Away to Remember

Learning new ways to move is fun and satisfying. In Qigong and Taiji learning new movements is a constant part of the training. I have found that many students have difficulty with remembering the moves from one class to the next. Here are a few tips to make the intake of new movements a natural, normal part of your life.

Commit to Self-Practice

Learning and remembering new movements takes conscious effort, constant renewal and a commitment to practice. It takes an active engagement with the process. Just receiving the lessons in class isn’t enough. You will most likely forget by the next class. If you repeat a movement often enough, it becomes a body memory.

Practice Does Not Need to be Perfect

I sometimes hear people say they didn’t practice their moves because they weren’t sure of the details. The old saying is that perfect practice makes perfect. Wanting perfection, they avoided practicing any of the new exercises at all. Don’t go for perfection when learning something new. Just get it down in rough form. Go for stick figure drawing, not renaissance painting. Getting the stick figure down is creating the skeleton for further details to be added upon later.

Learn them Digitally at First

Learn as basically as possible. Where does each arm go? If you are stepping, which foot are you stepping with? If you are turning the body, which way? Do rough run-throughs. e.g. for Part the Horses Main, my right hand goes forward and faces up. My left hand is down and back. My right leg is forward.

Repeat as Soon as Possible

Repeat while the material is fresh. Otherwise it quickly dematerializes in your memory, a ship quietly sailing away into the fog of time. It is soon gone, and you’ve lost something small but tangible to build further upon. Then you have to relearn it. I recommend practicing the moves a few times when you get to where you are going.

Repeat Repeatedly for a Few Days

Do quick reviews, just to get the basic physical sequence down.

Short Sessions

Stop what you are doing periodically through the day or three after learning these new moves to do brief and scanty run-throughs. These micro-practices don’t have to be any big production, just doing the moves one or more times. Whenever you think about it as you go about your day. Just do a run-through a few times.

Review in your mind

You can also visualize the movements at odd moments. Visualizing is nearly as good as doing to motions themselves

When you have something, even just a glimmer, nurture that glimmer by repeating it. If you have a base of movement that is even remotely close to the proper way to move, practice that base. By practicing it you are able to remember something. Then you can change it, correct it, improve it in later classes and personal practices. If you don’t try at all, you have to start over, which is frustrating and slows your progress.

In Review

Think about any new moves you have just learned in class as you go home. Keep these new moves fresh in your mind. As soon as you are able, physically go through them a few times again. I recommend to this as soon as you get to the next place you are going.

Make remembering and practicing priorities.

Example #1: On the Bus

I remember my Medical Qigong teacher Jerry Alan Johnson telling us how he learned a Chen Taiji form in Beijing (I think it was Beijing). He was in China learning more about Medical Qigong, so while he was there he also found a martial arts master in a park and took lessons in a form he didn’t know. After each lesson, riding the bus to the hospital he was studying at, he would go through the moves. Sitting on the bus he would move his hands and turn a little, reviewing while the material was fresh. He learned the full Taiji form. When I saw him perform it several years later, it inspired me to seek out and find  some Chen Taiji. And I did. When Bob Lau moved to Bellingham he was able to teach me the long form in the New Frame style.

Example #2: Practicing First Thing

An example of how to grasp movement lessons happened recently. I just began learning the Partner Form (San Shou) in Yang Style Taiji from Michael Gilman, who is a long drive and a ferry ride away from me. In the first workshop we learned 10 moves, all done with another person. After the workshop, my training partner and I practiced these new moves as soon as I dropped him off at his house. There in the yard, we reviewed. Then I drove home and practiced the moves again, in my living room, visualizing a partner. Several times each day I practiced. The moves stuck with me. I’m ready for the next workshop.

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Simple Taiji (Tai chi) Form

YouTube Preview ImageSimple Taiji is Advanced Movement

Many times I have heard from people who tried to learn Taiji (Tai Chi) that the moves were too complex and the form was too long to remember. Instead of using their class and practice time to learn healthy principles movement, they would mostly be overwhelmed. The Simple Taiji Form solves that problem. This form consists of just two postures repeated six times, plus some transitions. By investing a shorter time in learning the moves, you are able to explore many principles of Taiji Qigong. You aren’t spending all your efforts in remembering (and forgetting).

Accessible Taiji

The Simple Taiji Form is a fun and accessible introduction to the world of Taiji. One repetition of this Qi-building form can be done in only 3 or 4 minutes. This short sequence trains balance, builds strength, improves memory, promotes health, and increases physical stability. Once you learn it, the form has many levels of practice within the same moves: It is a trove of riches of innumerable lessons and blessings. Daily practice of this little form will make your life better, healthier and probably longer.

Simple Taiji is a Qigong Practice

The Simple Taiji form will strengthen your whole body, lower your blood pressure (if needed), improve the health of your spine, replenish your energy resources, improve your breathing, aid your digestion and elimination, and release tension.

I learned this sequence from Minke de Vos in 1997 and 1998. She learned it from her teacher Mantak Chia.

 

 

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Master List of Articles

Here is a List of the Principle Articles and Videos on this Qigong Website

Note: These listed articles come from the Blog section of this website. There is also a section of Pages, which contains much information as well. The links to the Pages can be found to the right on any page.

Fun with Qigong Homepage

How to use this site.

Welcome to Fun with Qigong

My first post.

Introduction to Qigong

A video explaining the basics of Qigong.

A Simple Explanation of Qigong

What exactly is Qigong?

Audio Interview

A 55 minute overview of Qigong, along with a sample of the Six Healing Sounds.

The First Principle of Qigong

Practice. Preferably daily.

My First DVD: Fun with Qigong

A video guide to learning the gentle, powerful, principle-based Qigong set called The Five Flows.

Moderation and Fasting

All endeavors seeking health should not be excessive. Excess kills. Moderation heals.

Healing the Heart

Simple approaches to heart health.

Reducing High Blood Pressure

Video detailing some Qigong ideas for lowering pressure.

Breast Health

Exercises and resources from a non-invasive, vitalistic, self-empowering approach. Every woman should learn about these methods.

Inexpensive Acupuncture

Social justice through heartful needles.

Sudden Inhalation Syndrome

Shock breathing is normal but not natural. Learn how to breathe with ease.

Qigong and Fibromyalgia

Decrease pain with Qigong.

Simple Taiji Video

An introductory form to practice the principles and basic movements of Taiji (Tai chi).

Insomnia

Insomnia Article

Thoughts and exercises for working on that night-stealer insomnia.

Insomnia Video 1

Overview of Qigong exercises for overcoming insomnia.

Insomnia Video 2

Charge the Kidneys and connect the Kidneys to the Lower Dantian.

Insomnia Video 3

Warm the feet.

Insomnia Video 4

Draw Qi from the Lower Dantian to the feet. 

Front-loading Qigong

Practice extra amounts of Qigong before travel, expected stressful events, or busy times to come.

Hot Hands of Qi

Qigong will warm and balance your hands.

Qigong and Warm Hands: Part 1

A second class with the heat camera shows some fascinating photos.

Relax Your Shoulders, Descend Your Qi

Sink your Qi to relax your being.

Qigong and the Upside Down Snowman

Get out of your head and center in the lower abdomen. Health and joy await you. Let go of tension and sink your Qi to feel much, much better. [with a video]

You Can Cure Hot Flashes

Make hot flashes a thing of the past with this simple, powerful technique. [with a video]

Qigong, Vitality and “Limitations”

Work within your limits, but don’t let them define you.

Four-Part Protection Process

A Meditation and Medical Qigong Method for staying sane and clear in an insane world.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 1

The overview video of the “Old Man…” exercise.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 2

The second video of the “Old Man…” exercise. Lungs and sadness.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 3

The third video of the “Old Man…” exercise. Open the heart and release armoring.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 4

The fourth video of the “Old Man…” exercise. Clear worry, excess emotions, and anger from the middle burner.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 5

The fifth video of the “Old Man…” exercise. Putting it all together.

Three Types of Qigong Practice: Singles, Sets, and Sequences

Three ways you might practice: Focused, expanded, or sophisticated ways.

Qigong Sets

Understanding what Qigong sets are and how to utilize them.

Qigong Sequences

Understanding what Qigong forms are and how to utilize them.

Five Flows in a Single Exercise

One exercise can take you through all of the flows, if  you stick with it.

Preventing Colds and Flu with Qigong

These gentle, immunity-enhancing exercises truly work.

More on Preventing Colds and Flu with Qigong

Use healing sounds and slow, gentle, movements.

Qigong Strategies for Illness

How, when, and when not to do Qigong when illness is in the picture.

Qigong Workshops

A baker’s dozen of Qigong workshops your group may want to host.

The World-Famous First 64 Form

From Wild Goose Qigong, there is much healing in the intracies of these fun movements.

Reduce Stress with the Super Powerful Method of Belly Breathing

So much of a person’s stress arises from the backward, upside down, unnatural, but entirely common practice of chest breathing.

Pay Attention to Your Feet

With so much heady focus in our world, we lose connection to the whole of our bodies and the sustenance of the earth. Become more whole and balanced by paying attention to your feet as much as to your brain.

Save Yourself from a Lightning Strike

Crouch and survive.

Simplified Exercise Set

Sometimes an entire set is too much.

Open and Move from the Gate of Life

The Gate of Life is so important and so practical and so unknown.

Can Qigong Save America (and the World?)

We desperately need inexpensive, effective healthcare. Qigong is one of the answers to this urgent need.

Slap Yourself Healthy

Gentle tapping methods for wellness.

The Three Intentional Corrections

How to reframe and refocus your experience in the moment with Qigong.

Healing Knee Pain 1

Using the wall sitting exercise.

Healing Knee Pain 2

Success with the wall sitting exercise.

Change Your Life in Two Minutes a Day

Getting a daily Qigong practice started can reward you with big health dividends later on.

Bend Your Knees for Health’s Sake

Bending your knees helps alleviate many chronic pain symptoms.

When in Doubt, Shake

Use the Shaking the Body exercise to release fear, uncertainty, and tension.

Exercise with Ease

Be gentle and moderate with your Qigong to get the most out of it.

Qigong Will Soon Be a Common Sight

“People just have to get used to it.”

Spend a Billion Dollars to Save a Trillion

Qigong could save huge amounts of money, nationally.

Qigong is a Medical Bargain

It is downright cheap. It is gold that takes put pennies on the dollar.

Three Little Words Can Change your Life

The first three principles of Qigong: Practice, Modify, and Refine.

I Healed My Smashed Toe with Qigong

Using the gentleness and gentility of Qigong for giant gains.

Stay Centered or Suffer the Consequences

Multi-tasking leads to injury.

Breathe When You Type

Qigong is cheap medicine, easily accessible.

Train Your Qigong in Calmness

Qigong practice cautions.

The Secret Practice of True Wealth

Invest in Qigong and reap the lifelong rewards.

The Half-Half Rule

At least do some Qigong. You will be happy you did.

The Baby Bowl

Healing babies instead of watching the Superbowl.

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Tai Chi (aka Qigong) Decreases Pain

In August of 2010 an article was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine citing a study of Tai Chi for the painful, baffling syndrome of Fibromyalgia. It turns out that there were significant mental and physical improvements for the Tai Chi group after only 12 weeks of supervised practice. The practices were one hour long, two times a week. Even more telling, the improvements remained 6 months later.

 http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa0912611

 http://www.medpagetoday.com/Rheumatology/Fibromyalgia/21749

Science Continues to Support Qigong

Many scientific studies have been done to investigate the healing benefits of practicing Qigong and Tai Chi. “Tai Chi,” in most of these studies, is essentially another type of Qigong: A short movement form done slowly with attention to posture, movement, the body, mind, and breath. Though these short forms are taught to people unfamiliar with Qigong or Tai Chi, they still have quick, predictable, good results.

The Science of Centuries

Qigong, in all of it’s facets has been used as a health practice for thousands of years, undergoing advancement and refinement through all of those centuries. It has been proven over and over again to be a super source of health. Modern scientific studies are coming to the same conclusion.

Low-Priced Health Treasure for the Taking

Qigong and Tai Chi are not just relatively inexpensive way’s to feeling better, they are natural ways to healing that are super-duper cheap compared to modern medicine.

Qigong Methods for Fibromyalgia

Just about any slow moving, body-focused, energy-feeling type of Qigong would help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia. These self-healing exercises can be the basis for creating a healing lifestyle.

Doing the Five Flows set twice a day would make someone feel better and begin a river of healing. The Five Flows is an introductory set of special movements, similar to a basic Tai chi form. There a several primary healing mechanisms in the set. Shaking and tapping release physical stagnations. Breathing practices revitalize the blood and relax the nervous system. Qi charging exercises build up the internal organ strength and lymph flow. My thesis is that such results–even at the introductory level–will help the healing process for fibromyalgia and a host of other syndromes.

Medical Qigong Prescriptions

Medical Qigong is the subset of Qigong where very specific movements, meditations, sounds and breath-practices are given for medical conditions. Medical Qigong has prescription exercises that can help with fibromyalgia. My Medical Qigong teacher recommends purging blocked energy from the Liver; and charging the Kidneys and Spleen. Please note the terms “Liver,” “Spleen,” and Kidneys” have different meanings than the strictly anatomical and physiological meanings used in Western medicine. They have a more functional, systems-approach according to the tenets of Chinese Medicine. And Medical Qigong.

Liver, Kidneys, and Spleen

The Liver blockage impairs Qi flow throughout the body and creates too much toxic heat.

The low Kidney energy means fatigue, poor memory, and an inability to control a too-hot Liver.

The low Spleen energy (meaning the digestion is sluggish) also is overwhelmed by the Liver excess. Doing specific exercises daily is what it takes.

Some tutoring might be necessary. Doing these kinds of processes is much like tuning an instrument. The closer you get it to just right, the better it works.

Clear Liver Stagnation

For Liver stagnation, the “guo” sound is a good Qigong prescription. This is a deep, droning, “Gwwwoooo.” Guo is pronounced like cartoon character Elmer Fudd would saw “grow.” Healing Sound Qigong is used to put focus and vibration into target organs, thus leading to the release of stagnation. Always feel healing sounds vibrate in the target organ or area.

Charge the Kidneys

For the Kidneys, the Charging the Kidneys exercise from the Five Flows set is a good choice. You can do it while imagining blue energy filling the Kidneys, like warm ocean water.

Charge the Spleen

For the Spleen, put both hands on the Spleen and stomach area (on the left side of the upper belly ) and breathe yellow into it. Feel it fill up, warm up, and get cozy and happy.

Each of these exercises would need many repetitions, 50 to 100 or so.

Of course, this is just a beginning idea. Everyone has different needs. Fibromyalgia is a kind of a messy attic space diagnoses, and it is not just one thing.

Qigong Can and Will and Does Help

Whatever is going on with someone with fibromyalgia—depression, uncertainty in life, internal Qi stagnation, too much head-thinking, too many years of push, push, push, or whatever—Qigong can help move the Qi along and out and bring back natural, fresh internal flows.

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Taiji Qigong

Taiji Movements for Health

Learn Taiji Qigong (Tai Chi Chi Kung)

Gentle Exercise Series with Robert Bates 

May and June, 2010  

Come to one, two, or three classes a week for the same price! 
 

Three Times

  • Mondays 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm.   
  • Mondays 6:00 to 7:00 pm.                 
  • Fridays 12:00 to 1:00 pm.

Dates: May 3 through June 25 

Cost:   Only $80 for the entire series                      

Location: 1095 East Axton Road. This is a few miles north of Bellingham. 

Graceful Relaxation and Gentle Strengthening

Taiji Qigong is a set of graceful, meditative exercises based on the healing martial art of Taiji. This 18-movement set is also known as Shibashi. The movements are easy to learn and practice and have many healing benefits. Taiji Qigong is great for those wanting some of the grace, beauty and health benefits of Taiji Chuan but aren’t ready to commit to 10 years of difficult training. 

Tai Chi Chi Kung

Taiji Qigong

Taiji Qigong is effective in opening major acupuncture points, balancing the brain and body, and improving the strength and flexibility of the spine. You will develop smooth coordination, gain more body awareness and you will attain a peaceful sense of empowerment. 

With Taiji Qigong You Will Also

  • Gather energy
  • Heal chronic injuries
  • Become more relaxed and calm
  • Clear the fog from your brain
  • Enhance your immune system
  • Improve Posture
  • Feel better
  • Strengthen internal organs

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Qigong in the Public Consciousness

Qigong is slowly making inroads on the consciousness of America. An article on one of my students was recently in the local newspaper here in Bellingham, Washington, USA, North American Continent, Planet Earth.

Vitality

Lee Willis has been benefiting from Qigong for a decade or so. I find Lee to be one of the most present, friendly, happy, helpful and engaging people I know. The photo and article don’t quite show her effervescence. And she vehemently denies–as the article speaks of–that she is a sufferer or victim of any kind. In the decade plus I have known her, I agree with this self-assessment. She leads not just an active life, but a thorough life.

Lee Willis in 2007

Qigong Awareness is Growing

Anyway, read the article. The benefits and joys of Qigong (and Tai Chi) are trickling up, seeping into general consciousness. Maybe we will soon see a bigger awareness of these arts. Most individuals–and the country as a whole–would be better off practicing these internal movement arts.

Lee Willis teaches a short, gentle Tai Chi form that was designed for people with arthritis (whether or not they are victims), but the form is actually great training for anybody seeking better internal and external balance, smoother movement and less pain in their bodies.

Modify Your Movements When You Need to

Lee mentions the principle of modifying in the article, which is so key in making a practice work for whatever your current physical needs, abilities, and areas of concern. To restate the principle of modifying: Find a way to move that doesn’t hurt, whether this means using less effort, doing slightly different movements, or making the range of the motion smaller. By modifying as necessary, you engage your body in relaxation, which engenders healing responses at all levels of your being.

The Omnipresence of Limitations

Another point she touches upon is the fact that most of us have some “limitations” in our health to deal with. Actually, everyone does. Working within the boundaries of whatever your current abilities are–rather than fantasizing or blithely stepping into the dangerous water of overdoing–is so much of what Qigong is all about. When engaged in healing practices, activated movement within relaxation is necessary. Working within your limits is both wise and pleasurable. Pushing into pain is the path to problems.

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Qiqong Sequences

Continuing my discussion of the Three “S”s of Qigong practice: Single Exercises, Sets and Sequences:

Sequences

A Qigong sequence is a series of movements put together into an artistic form. I often call these forms, but many people use the word “form” for a single exercise or a set. I’m playing with the word “Sequence” as a more accurate, separate descriptor.

In a Sequence–or form–one exercises follows another in an arranged order. Sequences usually cover some ground with different types of steps, arm movements and torso movements. These patterned forms usually face all directions within the series of moves.

Forms are Artistic Patterns

Forms–or Sequences–can be seen as patterns performed on the ground, in time, and in the space around you.

Sequential forms are a more advanced way of practicing than Single Exercises or Sets (though not necessarily better.)

Sequences are like books or encyclopedias of skills and knowledge. Often Sets are created by taking and adapting movements from forms into successive drills. I have done this with the Primordial Qigong Sequence, creating the exercise Set I call the Delightful Dozen out of it.

Whereas the Delightful Dozen faces one direction and calls for about a dozen repetitions of each exercise; Primordial Qigong faces each of the cardinal directions eight times in a circling sequence and with varying numbers of repetitions for each sequential movement within the form.

In the formal sequence of Primordial Qigong, each exercise has it’s own number of reps to do—between 1 and 10 reps—before  flowing into the next exercise

Other examples of Sequences include much of the system of Wild Goose Qigong, including The First 64, The Second 64, Soft Palms, Spiral, etc…

Yang Style TaiJi (Tai Chi)

Every system of Tai Chi (at least 6 different major systems out there) has it’s short and long forms as a major part of their training. The Yang Style of Tai Chi Chuan, for instance, has a widely taught beginner form of 24 movements; the intermediate  20 minute (or so) long 108 movements form; and another, rarely seen, more complex, 108 move form.

New Frame Chen Style Tai Chi Form

In my Chen Style Tai Chi class with Bob Lau we practice something called the New Frame. This very long and complicated form (which I have a long way to go to really understand in a significant way) is made of 83 moves. However, most moves have several sequential components to them, so 83 is a but a method of naming. There seem to me to be about 250 separate moves. “Whew.” I’m currently learning a Sequence called Spiral Taiji from my internal arts teacher Bob Lau.

Advantage of Sequences

An advantage of working with Sequences is that they force you to be present and fully conscious as you are training. Spacing out and not paying attention leads to missing your next steps and getting lost. Sequences are a magnificent as moving meditations.

With the differing numbers done of exercises, the exact sequences, the steps being taken and directions to face, sequential forms are masterful ways of training your memory.

Sequences also encourage a the building of artful skill. Forms add a tapestry of artistic color and nuance to Qigong.

And they are fun!

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Three Types of Qigong Practice

Exercises Can be Done Singly, in Sets or in Patterned Sequences

There are a number of ways to look at Qigong in order to understand it better, methods of breaking down aspects of it into categories. In future posts I’ll talk about several different such ordering methods.

One way to look at Qigong in terms of how the exercises are organized: whether you are doing a single exercise repeated; a set of exercises drilled repeatedly and in order; or a sequence of exercises done in a flowing pattern.

For Simplicity, I Call These the Three “S”s

  • Singles
  • Sets
  • Sequences

Single Exercises

Single exercises are done by themselves, repeatedly. These are usually drills of foundational movements or meditations that help you gather a particular energy or develop a particular important skill.

These drills might also be taken out of a set or sequence and practiced alone. A single exercise might be a prescription for your condition. Two examples are doing lots of Shaking the Body to release tension, or performing many reps of the Inner Qi Shower to release and descend excess heat in the head.

Another example of this is building balanced energy in your hands for healing with the exercise Charging the Qi Ball.

The Golden Ball (also called 8 Actions of Qi) is an 8-movement single exercise I learned from my Medical Qigong teacher Jerry Alan Johnson. The Golden ball is particularly good at balancing your body’s Qi field.

Swimming Dragon is a sophisticated Single Exercise that is great for the spine and other joints of the body.

Reasons to Practice Single Exercises Include

  • to really deepen a skill,
  • to drill and drill for a particular need, such as an exercise prescription
  • to built a foundation necessary for later practice needs
  • because you are short of time

Get in a Groove

The best way to practice Single Exercises is to do them for a period of time, rather than a set number of repetitions. For instance you could decide to practice the exercise over and over for 5, 10 or 20 minutes. After a few minutes you will get into a groove. You’ll be riding a wave of a rhythm that takes you with it.

In my next post I will talk about Sets.

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Yang Style Taiji Class in November

My Taiji and Xin Yi teacher Bob Lau is will be teaching Yang Style Taiji (Tai chi) once a week beginning in November. Of the several major styles of Taiji, Yang style is the most well-known, with it’s slow, flowing moves. Several studies have shown Taiji like this to be an excellent training for significantly decreasing falls in seniors and increasing organ health for everyone.

Here is his email

“Hi everyone,

By special request, I will start teaching Yang Style Tai Chi at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center on Mondays, beginning Monday Nov 2, 2009. Class time will be starting at 10:45AM and will be a 1 hour class. The cost of the class will be $45/month.

I hope to see you all there.

Questions: email me [boblautaiji@yahoo.com]or call 360-734-2847

Bob Lau”

p.s. Bob is a down-to-earth personable teacher with a great deal of knowledge and skill in the important healing aspects of the internal martial arts. I recommend him highly.

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