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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tai Chi Studies for Health

Why are most studies on Tai Chi done on adults, especially older adults?

Because Tai Chi:

  1. improves breathing – filling every cell of your lungs with oxygen
  2. reduces bone loss
  3. improves strength
  4. helps with arthritis
  5. lowers blood pressure
  6. stimulates imagery for better mind-body integration
  7. relieves stress

 

 

 

 

 

Does Tai Chi do that for children too?

In China, young children do morning exercises similar to Tai Chi  in schools everyday.    Tai Chi becomes a regular part of life because children are used to seeing it everywhere.  They get tremendous benefits from the practice.  The movements are part of the health care.  TAI CHI is  a daily activity for WELLNESS.  

Grandparents do it.  Children do it.  In parks, at home and at school.  It is part of life – a healthy part of life that can be done for a few minutes at any time during the day.

 

Senior citizens often participate in studies on Tai Chi in China and in the US.  There is a new one from Japan just published this month in MedPage Today saying that Tai Chi can reduce the rate of falls by almost 50% in the first year of doing Tai Chi.  The elderly  are the ones that fall and suffer the most from falls.  The population of the elderly is increasing everywhere.  This is a great concern.  Observation of the elderly showed tremendous benefits from Tai Chi.

From experience I can tell you that Tai Chi has similar benefits for children.  Often, when children fall they jump right back up and continue playing.  Falling is not such a big problem.  For them the benefits of Tai chi are better balance and hand-eye coordination.

Tai Chi helps the young:

  • become more coordinated and balanced
  • focus on  their school work
  • cooperate better
  • perform better in athletic activities
  • fall asleep at night

Tai Chi is a powerful tool.   It benefits every age, every generation.  Our children are the next leaders of our society.  Focused, healthy children are the goal.

It is never too early to start Tai Chi.  Why don’t you do Tai chi now with your children, too!  You can buy your Tai Chi for Kids set here to get started now.

 

Anxieties of our lives; Can Meditation Help?

“The bad news is that life is full of suffering and we humans are full of illusions. The good news is that these two problems are actually one problem: If we could get rid of our illusions—if we could see the world clearly—our suffering would end”.

That is the opening sentence from a wonderful article in the Wall Street Journal about using MEDITATION AS A CURE. 

Meditation is one of the most powerful and healthy ways of solving the issues of anxiety.  It helps us let go of illusions and know ourselves better.

Anxiety is normal.  Everyone has anxiety sometimes.  It makes us react in positive ways when something is wrong. “Better safe than sorry”

It seems like there is more anxiety today than at other times in history.  That is probably not true since we have lived through wars and famines.  But one things is sure:  we know more about everything that is going on and we hear about all sorts of ideas.  There is too much communication.  Everyone has a platform to stand on to expound on their ideas, no matter what they are.

Sometimes hearing another person’s idea is productive.  Sometimes it is not.   But finding inner peace, getting a good nights sleep, feeling compassion for others, sharing and working together are all important.

Meditation can help us achieve that.

Here are a few interesting facts:  Meditation makes you more aware of yourself, your feelings, your needs.

  • Mediation helps you to be more objective towards others.
  • helps us to let go of fears.
  • helps  us control cravings,  the feeling that we just have to have a certain thing.
  • improves our ability to control suffering
  • can lessen the power of  cravings we feel due to ads, songs etc.

There are many ways to meditate.  You can experiment and find what works best for you.

  • It can be a walk in the park or on the shore

  • Listening to peaceful music is calming

  • Paying attention to your breath relaxes your mind
  • The peaceful meditative movements of Tai Chi change the way you fee.

We can each find our own way.  But starting with Tai Chi is powerful.  Moving meditation is one of the easiest way to find inner peace.

Tai Chi and Tapping

Every class I give begins with tapping on the body.  We tap up and down the legs, the arms, around the torso, and on our back.  The expression changes on everyone’s face.  Some begin to smile.  Others to relax.  Other seem to wake up.

Tapping is so powerful I began to try it in a variety of situations, with many different ages.  And I began to study what is happening from the scientific, medical, point of view, especially according to Chinese medicine.

This began a very interesting journey for me.  I even tried tapping on my dog’s back on either side of the spine.  He stands there almost mesmerized.  He rarely gets enough.  His nose stretches into the air.  You can tell it feels very good.  The energy, CHI, must be moving through his body in a very comfortable way.  Whenever I finish my tai chi practice he stands next to me for his Tai Chi turn.

When we tap on the body the chi, energy, begins to wake up and move.  Heat is created in the body as the chi moves.  Energy moves to the organ, muscles, joints, nerves etc.  It moves everywhere.

 

According to Chinese Medicine blockages in the flow of energy can cause pain, disease, depression, inability to focus and concentrate, a general feeling of tiredness and discomfort.  So tapping all over our body is important to keep the energy flowing everywhere.  The great thing is that you can’t do it wrong.  Anywhere you tap, if you do it so it feels good, will move the energy in a way that is good for us.

 

One of the big problems teachers and parents deal with is learning challenges and lack of cooperation, or maybe we could call it disruptive behavior.  More and more often I suggested parents and teachers try tapping.  The results can be astounding.  Try some of the following tapping methods on your body or on your child or partner.  It becomes a tapping massage.  You can use your finger tips.  But much better is the palm of your hand.  The most powerful energy point in the body is on your palm.  So you can put energy into each spots as you tap on yourself or another person.  I will give instructions for two wimple tapping massages you can do on another person.  You can adapt it if you want to do it on yourself.  These massage are from Louisa Silva’s book QIGONG MASSAGE FOR YOUR CHILD WITH AUTISM.  It is available in bookstores or online.  there are many wonderful suggestions.

  1. Opens the brain and the senses, calming, boosts the immune system – have the child lie on his tummy.  With the palm of your had tap lightly on the top of the head until the neck relaxes.  tap down the center of the back turning your hand sideways at the base of the head.  Tap down to the tail bone. Then tap down the middle of each leg to the heels.  Your child will eventually begin to relax and become more aware of the world around him.
  2. Tapping the ears to help the child listen and improve language acquisition.  With the child lying on his back cup your hands over the ears and tap with your fingers in back of the ears.  This is a wonderful tai chi tapping exercise that you can do to yourself.  Then tap down the sides of the neck and down the arms, one at a time.  The ears are very sensitive and can become easily blocked.  In time the blockages will reduce and the sensitivity will decrease.

I will give you more suggestions another time.  Tapping massage is amazing.  You should try it.  Or get Louisa Silva’s book to learn more

Reflection on a year of Tai Chi

This was a great school year for Tai chi and me.

  • I went to more and more schools and had the opportunity to change classroom atmosphere, enthusiasm, cooperation and focus.  Benefits that carry over into many other parts of life – even outside of school.

 

  • I had the opportunity to enjoy the peaceful expressions on the faces of children doing Tai Chi.  Kids who are used to being bombarded with noise almost constantly suddenly found moments of quiet peace.  Peace allows children to connect with themselves.    It helps them  to know themselves and understand their goals.  They begin to feel the friendship of others and to understand others  better. Peaceful moments are absolutely necessary for mental and emotional balance, at any age.  I need them too.

  • When we did the bow and arrow I could observe the intense focus and concentration on the faces of the students as they stared at the targets.  They pulled the bow string back and opened their chest to take in more oxygen.  And then I got to hear the comments of teachers saying that grades were better.  Especially those students who had been having trouble focusing. These students could now answer the questions!  What a great benefit!

Here is an interesting article about  how meditative activities such as Tai Chi can reduce stress and improve performance even in sports.

Sometimes we don’t think of sports as stressful activities but they can be just as stressful as tests, public performances, special projects and social activities.

 

We live in a time where winning in sports is often more important than playing. Is this child really going to be a professional athlete?  It is really about developing physical skills, becoming more fit and  healthy, having FUN, and developing team spirit.

Academics are not just about memorizing facts.  Academic experiences should be developing curiosity.  Thinking about and discovering ways of solving problems is a great skill.   Learning about differences and similarities in cultures, literature, geography make us better people.

We have a tendency to make everything competitive.  Even when it should not be.

Tai Chi is 100% non-competitive.  Everyone wins because by doing it you feel better, perform better and are happier.

Let’s all work together to make life more peaceful for our children.  Let’s help them find success through useful skills that will serve them their whole lives.

IT IS WORTH IT!

Tai Chi – It May Be the Perfect Exercise

Tai Chi and Qigong are very similar and according to extensive studies on over 6000 participants may be the perfect exercise for well-being.   Whichever you choose, whichever feels right for you,  you will gain important benefits.  Check the list below.  How is it possible that Tai Chi and Qigong are effective for so many conditions?  How can it be effective for so many ages, physical issues, and general health?

 

In our society we tend to look for a different solution for each separate problem.  But according to theses ancient Chinese practices, when we do movements that allow us to relax  the chi flows better to every cell of the body so we can be healthier in many ways.    Chinese Medicine teaches that the only place the mind and body should be separated is in the dictionary.  They work together through movement, breathing, and visualization to produce a healthier person.  Tai Chi helps us to find balance.  We search for the balance every day in all of our activities.  Just as we search for the balance of the yin and yang.

Tai Chi allows our body to  heal.  Instead of chemicals or surgeries, the movements allow the cells to strengthen and heal.  The organs become stronger and better able to do their work.  The muscles become toned and our balance improves.  The mind relaxes, focuses, and we learn about ourselves.  We begin to know what is important.   We begin to feel better and believe in ourselves and know what we need to do to find success.

Tai Chi is a good system for health and well-being no matter your age.  Order your copy here.

The results of the studies published by the National Institute of Health show that Tai Chi and Qigong are effective in:

  • cardio-pulmomary fitness
  • prevention of falls
  • strong bones
  • general quality of life
  • increased immunity
  • improving psychological factors such as relieving anxiety, , depression
  • improved self-efficacy and self-esteem
  • improved balance and muscle tone
  • improving motivation
  • lower blood pressure
  • improve breathing and oxygen intake
  • improvement in self-esteem
  • decrease in inflammation
  • better relaxation
  • decrease inb fibromyalgia

               

Chinese Philosophy – popular at Harvard

I have been reading ancient Chinese philosophy for years.  It is the basis of Tai Chi and Qigong.  It teaches us to slow down, feel good, be in the moment,  understand what is important, to find the right path of our own life.   It can change your life.  You can do it by studying the literature.  Reading Lao Tzu, Confucius, Mencius is powerful.  Especially with a great professor asking the pertinent questions that get you thinking in a new way.

You can achieve the same thing through the regular practice of Tai Chi or Qigong.  The movements and visualization take you to a different place where there is quiet (something that is often rare in our lives).  It allows you to ‘discover’ your own ideas as you move in silence like an elephant walking across the plains of Africa to the watering hole.  The elephant is not worried about politics, income, or test scores.  Elephants don’t listen to the news.  For the few minutes we do Tai Chi we can be an elephant.  We escape from the stress and turmoil of our daily lives.  As the elephant trunk hangs down, we relax our necks and shoulders letting go of the worries and frustrations we carry.  We visualize the peacefulness of being outside in the warm fresh air, drinking water and showering it over our backs.  It is just the right temperature.   It feels so good.

 

 

When I teach Tai Chi in the schools this is what happens.  The naughty child is no longer naughty.  He is  an elephant drinking water, just the way elephants do.  The frightened student no longer has a tummy ache.  She is focused on swinging her trunk in a graceful movement back and forth.  The over anxious student can let go of stress by visualizing the breeze and fresh air as we saunter towards the watering hole.

 

Students tell me that doing Tai Chi is like taking a trip, leaving school for a few minutes.  They have had a real break.  And now they can get back to work.

 

Read the article about the Harvard class in Chinese philosophy here.    And read some Lao Tzu.  It is a beautiful philosophy.  You can read a verse each day to start your day peacefully.

Here is the 8th Verse from the TAO TEH CHING  by Lao Tzu

The wise one models one’s life on the example of flowing water.

Water benefits all things and does not contend with them.

Water stays in low places, no one can look up to it.

The way of water exemplifies the fulfillment of spiritual virtue. 

 

I love to picture a flowing stream, moving gently around anything in the way, continuing along its path, and in time, benefitting and changing everything it touches.  Tai chi helps us live that way, too.  Don’t we wish everyone could adopt that philosophy?  Doing  Tai Chi helps.

Why Kids Shouldn’t Sit Still

This is not a new idea.

Kids have been running around outside, climbing trees, building forts in the forest, organizing pick up sports, creating with sticks and twigs for centuries.  Kids didn’t used to sit still very often.

  

Until we got a new idea.  It seems that now we are focused on how much kids can learn academically.  We try to help our children get ahead, be first in their class in first grade, by learning and memorizing a bunch of information for a test.  And above all we want them to be quiet!

  • Have you heard yourself say:  “Sit still and learn!” We shouldn’t be saying that to a 5 year old.  He is learning by playing, by moving around, by building.
  • “Clean up this mess.”     But it is not a mess.  It is a new fort.  The kids are going to play there tomorrow.

Kids Shouldn’t Sit Still

A great article in the NY Times  reminds us that kids learn what they need to know much better when they don’t have to sit still.  Not only do they learn through running  around and exploring outside.  But they can focus on standard classroom learning if they have lots more movement breaks during the day.

There are lots of ways to take a break.  You can go for a run.  Or do jumping jacks.  Or toss around a bean bag and a sponge ball.

But there is a way that is better than the others.

Tai Chi give you a break that not only relaxes the body but it lets off steam and hyperactivity. And it is fun.  Tai Chi refocuses your mind so you are better able to get back to work.  Tai Chi stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to improve your digestion for fewer tummy or headaches.  Tai Chi relaxes your body to let go of fear and stress.  Tai Chi improves your breathing to send oxygen to your brain for clearer thinking.  Tai Chi helps you tobe aware of and know what is really happening inside your body and out. It helps you know yourself and clarify your goals.  Tai Chi changes the atmosphere in the classroom and improves  self-esteem.  

Tai Chi is a tool for success as we learn, relax, think clearly and feel good about ourselves, our potential, our future. Since Kids shouldn’t sit still, WHY DON’T YOU TRY TAI CHI?

Try it soon.  You will love it too.

 

 

Tai Chi = Peace + Focus+Strength+Compassion

Peace, focus, knowledge, compassion, inner strength, calmness are all qualities we strive to feel and share. The practice of Tai Chi can help us achieve this in this stressful world.

 

We must never allow the nasty language and lies we hear everyday take over our lives.  But at the same time we must not be complacent.  We need the strength to stand up for what is right.

We need to exit from the stressful path we are on for a few minutes everyday. Start here:

 

 

 

 

 

The Mayo Clinic suggests Tai Chi to relieve stress.

Even Drugs.com advocates Tai Chi for stress.    And there are no negative side effects as there are with almost every medication you take.

Tai Chi helps us to never give up.  The inner peace we feel when we practice Tai Chi helps us feel more positive and in control.  It helps each of us find the right path.  The path that allows us to make a difference in our lives, and in  the lives of those we touch everyday.

It helps us make changes, defend what is right peacefully,  feel good, and respect and show compassion for others, to defend the rights of everyone and the freedom of each person to live a peaceful happy, life.

Take a few moments for silence as you stand like a tree, feel your roots connected to the earth, breathe in and our slowly through your nose, to be strong and centered.

Tai Chi gives focus to our actions, plans and goals.  It helps us release stress and know what is right.  It helps us rise above the confusion and negative energy that sometimes seems to take over.

Take a few moments everyday to be centered and focused; to know and feel the peace that you deserve to have a good day and enjoy just being. You might start with TAI CHI FOR KIDS