TAI CHI IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE POPULAR

Great News:  Regular  practice of mind-body activities such as Tai Chi, Qigong and Yoga are up by 300% over the past 15 years.  Tai Chi is becoming more and more popular. 

Why?  Because they are beneficial, natural and focus on the whole body.  Acute and chronic pain, arthritis and depressions are the three medical conditions that lead people to practice mind-body activities.  Harvard Medical School talks about the value of Tai Chi specifically for pain. Not only are these practices beneficial but they are natural, safe, cost very little and are very make you feel better.  Check it out here.  

 

 

2019 is the 20th anniversary of World Tai Chi and Qigong Day.  On April 27th the earth will be encircled with chi.  The morning practice begins in Samoa at 10:00 AM.  then it moves around the world to New Zealand when it is 10:00 there.   And then to Australia continuing through Asia, Europe and then to the western hemisphere – North and South America.  Find out where there will be a group moving the chi at 10:00 AM near you.   

It will be great to participate.  Together we can make a difference. You can become part of the growing popularity of Tai Chi and other mind-body practices.

Tai Chi for Strength as well as Calmness

We often talk about the calming side of Tai Chi since we live such hectic lives in an over-busy world of constant stimulation and connection.

But it is good to know that Tai Chi is also a great exercise for improving strength and stamina to keep you going.  Strength and stamina are not just about lifting weights for big muscles.

Strength and Stamina are good for us in many ways.  Such as:

  • improved strength for good bones and muscles.
  • improved stamina to keep going longer with better focus
  • better balance for fewer falls as our strength develops
  • reduced stress on the joints and muscles to help us avoid injury

 

 

 

 

 

I like to think of TaiChi as the perfect exercise for the whole family. Not just the elderly, or the toddlers, or the sick, or the disabled, or the athletes, or the studious, or the recovering or someone else!   NO.  It is for everyone.  At every age we need to Tai Chi.  Wouldn’t you like to feel more focus, balance, strength, flexibility and inner peace?

 

 

 

The great thing about Tai Chi is how quickly you can see improvement in all the qualities above.

  • In the classroom can see improvement in calmness and focus in just 10 minutes.
  • In a discussion of bullying we can see increased compassion in 20 or 30 minutes
  • We can see improvement of balance after merely 6 sessions – perhaps 3 weeks.  And it will continue to improve the more we do Tai Chi.
  • In athletics we can see improvement in focus as we shoot a basket, hit a tennis ball, a volley ball or baseball, swim gracefully through the water, run without jarring your joints and muscles.  It just takes a few sessions and awareness.

Of course.  We all would like to feel better, focus better, and  perform better.

There is a great article in the NY Times section on Personal Health this week.  It is by Jane Brody who has been writing on health issues for the NY Times  since 1979.  She has covered so many aspects of health. It is great when she write on Tai Chi .  You can read it here.

She sites many studies that have been done, primarily on older adults.  But please remember, what applies to adults applies to children also.

Her last paragraph is, for me, the most important.

 

 

“And, in the process of getting your body in shape with tai chi, you’re likely to improve your mental state. In a New Zealand study of college students, tai chi was shown to counter depression, anxiety and stress. It also enhances an important quality called self-efficacy — confidence in one’s ability to perform various activities and overcome obstacles to doing so. ”

You, too, can feel the benefits of Tai Chi.  Why don’t you start now?  And don’t forget the breathing!

Lack of Sleep – a big problem

Sleep is necessary to:

  1. repair tissue
  2. boost learning and memory potential
  3. flush toxins from the brain

Is inadequate sleep really a problem?    Aren’t you just a bit tired? Can’t you make it up another night?

  • Inadequate sleep can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Less than 6 hours of sleep a night can cause inflammation in the blood and in the body, and cause dysregulation of the immune system
  • Lack of sleep can have long term health consequences

 

And TEENS are particularly susceptible to insufficient sleep.

Read about studies that have been done on insufficient sleep.

Some people resort to sleeping pills.  Others to alcohol or drugs.  Try drinking less water.  Eating light meals earlier can help.  Avoiding sugar at night can make a difference.  Turn off your devices hours before bedtime.  Constant connectivity is a big problem.

There is another route to relaxing and sleeping well.

I have seen a big difference when certain moves of  Tai Chi are practiced in the evening.  Moves such as shaking away the tightness and frustration of the day help us let go. Or standing like a tree with roots growing into the soil so you can feel centered and connected.  As a tree it is easier to forget about all the negative issues of the day. You focus on something concrete such as growing roots into the earth.  You should try it.   It becomes possible to forget about obligations, upcoming exams, arguments with friends, bullying etc.  Tai Chi is a kind of meditation that is easier to do because there is a specific idea to focus on.  As you visualize the roots growing, the tree standing tall, the leaves blowing in the wind it becomes easier to forget about all the other issues and obligations of life.  Try a simple form of Tai Chi such as Tai Chi Moves.  It can make all the difference.

 

Finding peace with Tai Chi for Kids

 

What a small world we live in. 

We can connect with anyone, anywhere, almost.  We share this planet, the air, the breath, the peace.  But sometimes it feels like we share too much hostility, pollution and negativity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year it becomes more and more important to find inner peace. We must work together, not with hatred and criticism but with love and compassion.  We must take care of ourselves, our families, our friends and neighbors and our planet.

Finding Inner Peace

Forty percent of adults in the U.S. use alternative medicine and mind-body activities. Only 12% of children do.  Imagine how much more peaceful your family life would be if your children did Tai Chi!   You can do it together as a family.  It would be great to involve your children.

Recent studies were done on youths  from Europe (Sweden, Germany, and Portugal), North (Canada and United States) and South (Argentina) American, Asia (mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong) and Australia. Combined, these studies included 696 participants, with 360 youths participating in the Tai Chi or Qigong intervention arm and 336 in the comparator arm. 

 

 

 

 

Two common outcomes from the studies done in the various countries were  psychological wellbeing and better behavioral and  physical health and function for the group that did Tai Chi or Qigong.   This included classroom behavior, psychological health, reduction in stress, improvement in general health, weight management, improvement in physical activity, and quality of life. In order to understand the big impact of TaiChi and Qigong read the full study here .  

 

Of course studies are never absolute.

Try it for yourself. See how you feel!  How much better you sleep!  Notice the calmness at home and at school.  Enjoy your time together as a family and with friends.  Protect your planet and the environment you love.  We can be a positive force, together!   Begin with Tai Chi.  It is easy and fun!  Get your set here

Mind-Body Activities Promote Overall Health

We all benefit from focus, calmness, inner peace.

Mind-body activities promote Overall Health.

But sometimes we search with such determination for inner peace that we defeat ourselves before we even start.

 

 

  • Know this is true
  • I have done it myself
  • Sometimes I promise myself with force and anger that I will do something
  • Something that will make me better!
  • An ACTIVITY  that will MAKE ME RELAX

 

 

 

But it doesn’t work that way.  We often try too hard.  We want so badly to be in control –  

 TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

 

 

The best activities are mind-body activities where the mind is not pushing with determination towards a goal.  Instead the mind is relaxed and allows the energy to flow until we feel better, understand more clearly and share compassion and understanding with those around us. 

 

 

We need to:

  • let it happen
  • be in the moment
  • allow the chi to flow within our body
  • feel peace, happiness, calmness, and compassion to flow through us.

 

 

Studies on the effects of TaiChi and Qigong were done on adolescents (under 18). Frequency ranged from 2 sessions a week for 5 weeks to 5 sessions awake for a year.   The focus of the study was on the “interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, with the intent to use the mind to affect physical functioning and promote overall health”

 

For full information of this study click on this link.     There were 696 students in 10 different countries. They were divided into two group – the intervention group and the comparison group.  The ages ranged from 8 – 14.8 years.  Girls were 54% of the total..

 

The results were over 60% positive showing increased interaction and connection with peers and support from peers, and improvement in physical health – including groups with specific disease symptoms.

 

I imagine that if young people learned to do a some

tai chi or qigong everyday, even just 5 – 10 minutes,

we would see huge difference in behavior, understanding,

compassion, cooperation, health and focus.

 

 

 

Mind-body activities like Tai Chi can lead to more happiness, gratefulness and appreciation of others and of what we have.

Students love a TAI CHI week in NYC

Imagine:

A classroom is filled with students struggling with serious learning challenges.

The noise and the confusion suddenly stops.

Students love Tai Chi.

There is silence as each child moves as an elephant or a tiger.

Everyone is successful because there is not just one way to do it.

 

 

  • A running  elephant is fast
  • A playful  elephant is happy.
  • A  thirsty elephant reaches down to drink water.
  • A tired elephant moves slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

Each student is relaxing, breathing and visualizing his elephant moving across the plains of Africa.

No one needs to compare.  For once, every child is doing it exactly right.

 

What a feeling of satisfaction for the students.  No one is corrected.  There is silence and focus.  Relaxation and delight.  Teachers are happy.  Students are happy.

 

Even the ones who can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes are participating perfectly.

 

 

 

Why don’t you try Tai Chi with your students.  We all have challenges.  Tai Chi works on everyone to help you relax and feel better.

 

Getting involved with Tai Chi

You can order your set here.

Read some studies

A recent study showed that Tai Chi is particularly effective on children with sever hyperactivity and anxiety

A teacher from Connecticut tells his experience of using Tai Chi with children with special needs. 

The Qigong Institute reports how quickly most children respond to Tai Chi.  They show emotional stability and spiritual awareness after just one session.

Finding Calm in 2018

Finding  peace, focus and calm is not easy.  We had to work at in 2017 and we will have to continue to work for peace in 2018.  The situation around us does not make it easier.  

 

But Tai Chi, a moving meditation,  can help.

  • You can read lots of scientific articles about meditation to convince yourself that it really works.  For example  Your Brain as Laboratory: The Science of Meditation    shows how extensive the studies of mediation and the brain are.    But reading about the science is not the same as meditating.  We really  need to forget all the science we know to relax our brains. 

  • You can join a class.  Sometimes the group atmosphere is helpful.  You are there and sit quietly because that is what is expected. But it is not always easy to find the right group or make it to the practice.

It is easy to find excuses – reasons not to slow down and relax, to feel peaceful.  There is so much to do!

You need to find something that fits into your day, is fun, and makes you feel good so you can look forward to it.

  • A moving meditation like Tai Chi is an easy way to start.  Start with just 10 minutes.  You don’t want to be overwhelmed or stressed about your inability to do it, fit it in, and feel good.

 

 

 

A few suggestions:

  • Decide to start with 10 minutes – too much time can be stressful.
  • Pick a time that you know works for you.  Usually first thing in the morning is best.  Especially when you realize that missing 10 minutes of sleep is OK if you are doing something energizing.
  • Find a spot where you will not be disturbed
  • Find a simple program to get you started that will talk you through the activity, so your mind doesn’t wander to other things that will need attention as soon as you finish.
  • Set a timer so you don’t have to watch the time or wonder if you have gone too long.  It could be peaceful music that plays for 10 minutes.

 

Imagine the Tai Chi elephant walking across the plains of Africa.  Feel air and the breeze, smell the trees and bushes, notice the sunshine.   It is easier than sitting still.

As I move like an elephant, with grace and direction, relaxing my whole body, my breathing slows down and my body begins to change.  It is beautiful.  It changes my whole day.

 

 

 

Imagine helping other friends and family, children and students find the peace of the walking elephant, too.  With my simplified program of Tai Chi Moves, anyone can begin with just a few minutes a day.

Together we can change the world in a wonderful way.   We all need it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tai Chi Breathing

How important can breathing be?  We all do it everyday, naturally.  We don’t have to learn it, do we?

It depends if you want to breathe efficiently, sending oxygen to every cell for maximum benefit, or just breathe to get by.

We take thousands of breaths every day.

Air is the most important thing we need to stay alive.  Breathing massages the organs.  Our brain needs oxygen  for thinking, understanding and inner peace.

 

It does not always happen with our normal shallow breathing.  As a newborn baby we all breathed very deeply – abdominal breathing.  But as we grow we do more chest breathing which gives us less oxygen.  It feels natural.   But to reach a calm, mediative state we need to breathe deeply. Focusing on the breath allows us to experience abdominal breathing and feel the peacefulness of chi and oxygen flowing everywhere in our body.  If you expand the abdomen during the inhalation there is more room for the lungs to expand and take in more oxygen.

But during our normal busy day we don’t take the time to breathe deeply. We just keep rushing.  Many of us breathe in polluted air.  Some of us where our clothes too tight and we can’t expand our waist to breathe deeply.  Is it worthwhile to wear clothing that we think looks great if it doesn’t allow us to breathe?  Poor breathing can also come from fear, nervousness, depression, anger and other emotions.

Practicing breathing is very beneficial.

In Tai Chi we do abdominal breathing. We also use visualization to calm down so we can breathe better.

And do you know what happens?

  • Our brain and body function better.
  • We feel better.
  • Our digestion is better.
  • We sleep better.

It is worthwhile to practice beneficial breathing.  It can make a huge difference.  Try it with Tai Chi or yoga or meditation.  It can change your life.

 

What do Tai Chi and Nature have in Common?

More than you think

Both of them:

  • Lower blood pressure – studies on walking in nature and doing tai chi both show significant lowering of blood pressure.

  • Help us to let go of negative thoughts and fears- we are surrounded by so much bad news, aggressive voices, pollution, noise, and technology that moments of peace in nature or doing Tai Chi are important to change the feelings in our body.

 

  • Help us let go of stress – as we let go of negative thoughts and visualize or look at the peacefulness around us our body becomes more relaxed.  Our shoulders drop down, our breathing slows down and becomes deeper, our digestion improves, our heart rate becomes more stable.

  • Help us escape noise.  Noise contributes to hypertension. Forests are quiet places.  So is the imaginary forest in your mind as you are a  Tai Chi bird catching a worm.

  • Increase creativity. True creativity comes from calming down, knowing yourself, getting in touch with your thoughts, and letting go of obligations and demands.  Weather through walking in nature of visualizing an energy ball, you will come up with new creative ideas.

The Differences are:

  • The visualization of Tai Chi can be done anywhere at any time.  It is not always easy to get to the forest .
  • You can do Tai Chi in any weather.   Walking in nature may be fun in the rain.  But if it is very cold it may be hard to relax.

My suggestion:  do BOTH

When you have the opportunity to be in nature make the most of it.  Enjoy the smells, the feel of the breeze, the quiet underfoot, the beauty of the colors of the leaves and sky.

 

But also commit to doing 10-15 minutes of Tai Chi everyday:

  • 5 min in the morning the wake up your energy so you are better able to face the challenges of the day.
  • 5 min in the middle of the day when you need a break to move your energy, oxygenate your mind, relax your shoulders and back from holding one position too long.  Improve your focus.
  • 5 min before dinner to shake out the stresses and worries of the day, reconnect to the earth for stability and centeredness so you can have a relaxing evening and sleep well.

For more information on the beneficial effects of  NATURE
and TAI CHI please check:

THE NATURE FIX:  WHY NATURE MAKES US HAPPIER, HEALTHIER AND MORE CREATIVE    by Florence Williams

 

and this article from Harvard Medical School

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TAI CHI 

 

It is worth getting involved!

Are you ready for school this fall?

Summer is FUN!    Summer is SPECIAL!  But are you Ready for School?

When summer ends we need to be ready!  Ready for  reading, paying attention, getting things done on time,  showing discipline and concentration.

OH NO!  IT CAN BE HARD TO GET READY

Tai Chi for Kids is a great way to begin.  Tai Chi helps us:

  1. take some time for centering and think about what is going to happen next
  2. find self-control to perform as we want perform
  3. slow down and relax, plan ahead
  4. feel proud and be ready to face the future.
  5. feel grounded and connected.

More and more schools are using mindful activities to improve school readiness.

Below are 2 examples that can inspire you to find ways to bring mindfulness to your school.

  1.  Here is a great quote from the Niroga Institute. “Young people, especially those growing up in the urban cities and high poverty areas of our country, are victims of chronic stress and trauma. These kids need tools for stress resilience and trauma healing. Without these tools their sympathetic nervous systems will remain in overdrive as they try to protect themselves from real and perceived threats and danger. The latest research in neuroscience shows that this state of chronic stress or trauma physiologically turns off the brain’s ability to focus, regulate emotion, cope with stress, and empathize with others.”

At Cherryland Elementary School Principal, Dr. Itoco Garcia said

“Chronic absences decreased by 19% and the overall absenteeism rates dropped by 13%”  after Mindful Activities such as Tai Chi , Yoga, Meditation.  

Mindfulness leads to an improved learning atmosphere

 

2. Nancy Lindgren, Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist uses Tai Chi  in the public schools to improve balance.  It helps children who are disabled to become more defensive and aware when walking in the halls.  They learn to go with the flow.   Nancy has been involved in many tests using Tai Chi with children  experiencing a variety of challenges.  Here is a quote from Nancy:

“For students especially, I believe that the increased large muscle input that Tai Chi demands leads to calming in the nervous system; that the structured movement is organizing to the brain and could lead to improved memory and learning on cognitive tests, and that the mind and body in sync will lead to calmness, less violence, better behavior, and improved self-report measures of quality of life.”