Newsletter #72 - August 2007
In this issue:
-- From me to you, by Dr Lam
-- Inspirational tai chi stories, by Sue Covert
-- How medical input impacts the future of tai chi, by Stephanie Taylor
-- Announcing the three winners of the $100 gift certificate contest, by Sheila Rae, Tai Chi Productions’ new representative in North America
-- World Tai Chi and Qigong Day “On the Banks of the Wabash”, by Roy Geib
-- Steve’s story: Tai chi after brain injury, by Maree Lamb
-- 'Psoriasis: A distressing skin problem', an informative article from Your Health magazine
I want to share with you the fun I had during the designing of the new Tai Chi for Health logo. Many people had suggested to me that we should have a special logo for all the Tai Chi for Health programs and it started to become reality when Sherry Jones offered me a beautiful design for it. I discussed it with many people, including Master Trainers and designers, and between us we finally evolved a design we all liked and that we felt represented the essence of the mission that all of us who are involved in the Tai Chi for Health programs share.
The new logo, shown here, has one part of the tai chi symbol in an earth colour, surrounded by a circle of green, which represents trees. In the centre is a drawing of me performing a Sun-style movement, Single Whip.
My vision is to share tai chi with as many people as possible to improve health and quality of life. Tai chi is an ideal tool for self-growth. I see myself as a tree planter, who travels the world to sow the seeds of tai chi. Many of my colleagues and friends share the same vision and that is why they work so hard to bring Tai Chi for Health programs to others. We are all tree planters and we love to watch the trees (tai chi players) growing bigger and stronger, both mentally and physically.
The three winners of last month’s competition to win a $100 gift voucher are announced later in this newsletter by Shelia Rae, our new US/Canadian Tai Chi Productions distributor.
This month, we have a new competition that you can all participate in. A t-shirt with our wonderful new Tai Chi for Health logo will be awarded to the three best ‘elevator speeches’ we receive by 15 August. What is an elevator speech? Imagine you are waiting for an elevator and you are wearing our new Tai Chi for Health t-shirt. Someone asks you what it represents and you have one minute before the elevator arrives to tell the person how tai chi for health can benefit him or her. I believe, in fact, that this is a speech every tai chi teacher or tai chi enthusiast should have ready for when they are asked about tai chi. It’s really useful to have a very brief ‘elevator’ speech that may entice people to give tai chi a try.
Ralph Denner and Shelia Rae will be the judges for this competition. Email your elevator speech of between 50 and 200 words to Shelia at [email protected] by 15 August to have your chance of winning one of the three prizes. Please make sure you also give us your full name, mailing address and t-shirt size (adult sizes from XS to XXL). The winners will be announced and their speeches published in the September newsletter.
In this month’s newsletter
- At the tai chi workshop in Terre Haute, four attendees were recognised for their contributions to tai chi and their ability to inspire others to practise it. Sue Covert, a physical therapist, tai chi instructor and writer, has interviewed these four inspiring people for this newsletter.
- Stephanie Taylor gave an interesting talk at the Terre Haute workshop on how medical input impacts the future of tai chi. She believes that the health tradition of tai chi is not only historically well established, but is also central to the development and philosophy of tai chi.
- Sheila Rae, our new North American Tai Chi Productions distributor announces the three winners of last month’s $100 gift certificate contest, and we publish a note from each winner.
- Roy Geib tells us about how he celebrated World Tai Chi and Qigong Day ‘On the Banks of the Wabash’.
- ‘Steve’s story’, is the moving and inspirational story of Steve Pertsch, who had a brain haemorrhage 8 years ago when he was just 21. Maree Lamb tells us how tai chi is helping his recovery.
- 'Psoriasis: A distressing skin problem' is an informative article from Your Health magazine.
August’s product of the month
In August, buy any two of our DVDs and you get free of charge one of our new Tai Chi for Health t-shirts, worth US$15. The t-shirts are 100% cotton and come in a natural cotton colour with the Tai Chi for Health logo in three colors on the front and Chinese calligraphy in black on the back. They are available in adult sizes from XS to XXL.
When you place your order for any two of our DVDs, please mention this special offer in the comments section, quoting SP0807 and telling us your t-shirt size.
Product review of the month
Congratulations to Emma Mangual, of Puerto Rico for winning a tai chi music CD for this review of the new Tai Chi @ Work DVD:
Thanks Emma for your review.We would like to send you a tai chi music CD for being our winner. Please email us at [email protected] and give us your postal address.
‘Tai Chi @ Work breaks the stereotype of having to carry a bag with exercise clothes to change at work in order to exercise.
The DVD shows people in a conference room, in their work clothes, doing tai chi movements that require a small amount of space. Everyone who works in an office can visualize him/herself doing these easy to learn tai chi sets of 5, 15 or 30 minutes to lower stress before they start working, in the middle of the day, or at the end of the workday.
The explanations of how tai chi works internally to turn stress into strength are excellent.
Tai Chi @ Work is a brilliant answer for all who work and feel that they do not have time to go somewhere to exercise.’
Enter your review of any of my products in the Forum and you will have a chance to win a tai chi music CD too.
Upcoming workshopsby Dr Lam
August 18–19, Stanmore, Sydney, Australia
Therapeutic Tai Chi for Physical Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapy Professionals
August 25-26, Brisbane, Qld, Australia
Explore the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
September 14-15, Zurich, Switzerland
Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor's Training
September 17-18, Zurich, Switzerland
Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor's Training
September 21-22, Stockholm, Sweden
-- Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor's Training
-- Tai Chi for Arthritis Update & Part II Instructor's Training
October 13-14, Pacific Grove, CA , USA
Explore the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
Yours in tai chi,
Paul Lam, MD
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Sue Covert is a physical therapist, tai chi instructor and writer.
At the tai chi workshop in Terra Haute, four attendees were recognized for their contributions to tai chi and their ability to inspire others to practice it. I had the great pleasure of interviewing them to write their stories.
Webster’s dictionary defines inspiration as the ability to exert an exalting, animating, or enlivening influence on someone. Each one of these teachers has persevered through their own health conditions or those of a loved one and has found a reward in teaching others. They inspire and enliven their classes through the peace they have found in their tai chi practice. I appreciate each one of them sharing their stories with me and I look to them as role models for the type of teacher to which I aspire. Thank you, Denise, Nuala, Sherry, and Tony, for I know you bring inspiration into the lives of others every day!
Denise Duggan, from Indiana, began tai chi instruction with her husband Mike after his open heart surgery seven years ago. Mike’s doctor encouraged Mike to exercise but believed that Mike would be back with more problems when he mentioned tai chi as his exercise preference. Denise now teaches more than ten tai chi classes a week, working five days a week. She is motivated to teach because she believes tai chi is a “life enhancing” behavior and she sees herself as a role model for her students. Mike continues to play tai chi with her.
(Editor's note: Denise also features in Roy Geib's article below.)
Nuala Perrin, from Lancashire, UK, was encouraged to begin instruction in tai chi by her two brothers, who practice tai chi and martial arts, when she was recovering from breast cancer more than seven years ago. Nuala credits tai chi with helping her regain her self-confidence and positive outlook. When she learned of Dr Lam’s tai chi programs, she saw teaching as a way to help others and is rewarded when she sees her own students regain their health and confidence through tai chi. Nuala practices tai chi every day and believes she gains calmness, inner strength, and health benefits from it.
Sherry Jones, from Texas, began tai chi to improve her own health and to find some peace and tranquility. She is a role model in her community, as members have watched her recover from a car accident and cope with fibromyalgia, diabetes, and other conditions. Her youngest student is her baby grandson who she frequently holds as she goes over her tai chi footwork. Along with teaching, Sherry volunteers her time educating others in the medical profession and in her community about tai chi for health. She truly believes in what the logo says on the shirts her students proudly wear, that to practice tai chi for health is tai chi for life.
Tony Garcia, from Miami, is a Senior Trainer with the TCA program, and was diagnosed with MS in 1994. While organizing MS support groups, Tony met Master Trainer Jef Morris, who inspired him to start tai chi. Tony now teaches classes for people with MS and other disabilities. When he teaches others with disabilities, Tony wants them to feel as he does with tai chi – the ability to move slowly, to be at peace, to pay attention to one’s own body, and to see the subtle things we miss as we rush through our day.
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A morning talk given by Stephanie Taylor to the Annual Workshop in Terre Haute, Indiana in June 2007.
We are hearing a lot about the “new” non-martial applications of tai chi as a health practice. This “new” innovation has been criticized as not being as authentic as the martial tradition, and hence not worthy of serious consideration. I would submit to you that the health tradition of tai chi is not only historically well established, but is also central to the tai chi development and philosophy.
Early Taoist health practices laid the foundation for the early development of tai chi. As the martial emphasis developed, the health practices that were so central to the martial practice became invisible. As Westerners, we are inclined to evaluate only what is apparent, but the Eastern philosophies give greater weight to what is unapparent and implicit. Put another way, you cannot be a good fighter without being healthy, and you will not long have successful students/bodyguards/fighters if they are injured by their training.
Sun Lu Tang, the founder of the Sun-style tai chi, made the health benefits explicit. The higher stance and agile stepping coupled with the internal energetics were specifically designed as a health practice. Dr Lam wisely adapted this form for tai chi for Arthritis, further advancing the honorable history of the medical applications of tai chi. Dr Lam's contemporary understanding of body mechanics led to the modifications of the form for the safety of the knees, for example, by slightly turning the toe before stepping into a 90 degree turn. Improvements are constantly integrated into the practice, and this is the reason the Updates for teachers are so important. Tai chi is constantly evolving. Sun Lu Tang was a creative and gifted practitioner, and I am sure was continually innovating and modifying form.
Yesterday, you had the opportunity to see a historic event, the presentation of the “Elder Chen” form. This special group of Master Trainers, led by Dan Jones, revised the Chen form to retain the energetics, but remove any impediments to general practice. You recognized this demonstration of brilliant integration by giving the group a standing ovation. It is clearly essential to honor the past (to know the classics), but also to look to the future (integrate new knowledge).
The expansion of research into tai chi will also change the practice. The most important impact for tai chi as a health practice is to gain credibility in the West. This will lead to more people practicing and obtaining the health benefits. Research into tai chi has exploded, with more papers published every year. In the last 12 months alone, the following papers were published:
- three general articles;
- three on arthritis;
- eight on falls and balance;
- two on immune enhancement;
- seven on cardiovascular wellness; and also
- a review by our friend Alice Kuramoto.
Details are available on the Tai Chi for Health Community website at http://www.taichiforhealthcommunity.org.
There are now very specific answers to the question: Why practice tai chi? There are clearly defined benefits on balance, increased ability to carry out the activities of daily living, immune competence and general preventive health measures.
But, let me shift to an even more interesting (to me) topic – the impact of tai chi on medical practice. Physicians and Western medicine in general have been criticized as treating people like objects, for example, “the asthmatic in room 2217”. That situation has actually gotten worse and patients are not even given the dignity of being referred to as their disease, but rather are discussed in terms of their funding source, for example “the Medicare patient in 2217”. Chinese medicine and tai chi see it a bit differently. Chinese medicine would posit that Maryann with asthma does not have the same disease and treatment as Sarah with asthma. Each is an individual expressing the same fruit (asthma) but the source or root causation is different in each person. A sophisticated treatment will address the apparent disease but also the root cause. A greater understanding of the Eastern approach to medical practice will increase the appreciation of the patient as a person. It also implies that the disease and its causation should be addressed. This is a much wider scope of practice than our current symptom-based medicine and would invigorate current Western medical practice. Accordingly, a daily health practice, such as tai chi, would be incorporated as a specific recommendation. This would improve the health of all patients, but I suspect it will also improve the health of the practitioner!
If you are interested in more information and edification in the area of Energy Medicine, I would recommend looking at two groups. The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energy and Energy Medicine (http://www.issseem.org/) is directed toward practitioners, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences ( http://www.noetic.org/) is a wonderful group for everyone.
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The biggest contest we’ve had to date resulted in three winners of a $100 gift certificate with Tai Chi Productions. The contest was open to all that receive Dr Lam’s monthly newsletter in North America, and brought immediate attention to the new distribution center for Tai Chi Productions products. The winners are listed below, together with a brief note we received from each of them.
Even though the easiest way is to order is still on line at www.taichiproductions.com, there is another choice, for those who would like to speak to a real person for feedback, recommendations and any other questions about the products, or even just for a chat about tai chi:
901 – 388-3253
I love to talk about tai chi, the DVDs, Dr Lam’s books and other products. Plus I love to make new tai chi friends!
My office hours are varied, so don’t hesitate to call anytime; If I’m there, I’ll answer, if I’m off teaching tai chi, I’ll call you back!
My goal is to make your connection to TCP Distribution easy, friendly, and as enjoyable as talking to a friend. My policy is to ship within two-days of placing an order (online – phone – or fax ) USPS Priority Mail.
Watch closely for specials announced in the monthly newsletter – there is always a special of the month, and more contests to come, as well as new products.
Very exciting, soon to be available : T-Shirts ( long and short sleeved ) with Dr Lam’s new Tai Chi for Health logo on front left side and with beautiful, especially commissioned Chinese calligraphy on the back of the shirt.
I am taking advance orders for these shirts now. They will all be in a natural color with the logo in three colors on the front and the calligraphy in black on the back.
Another reason to call me! Just as these three winners of our last competition will attest – shopping with TCP pays off!
Winner 1: Alice Kuramoto, Mequon, WI
'I want to thank TCP Productions for the award for my next purchase order of videos. I was about ready to make an order anyway when I saw the newsletter reporting the contest. I have been teaching Tai Chi for Arthritis for the past eight years for senior students, and many of them have requested a video of the form. My students love the Tai Chi for Arthritis video. I also want to thank Celia for her part in doing the previous sales for TCP Productions, and now know Sheila will continue with this business in the same manner.'
Winner 2: Susan Scheur, Sarasota, FL
'I am so thrilled to be one of the three lucky winners of a $100 gift certificate from Tai Chi Productions. There are still a few of Dr Lam's DVDs that have not yet made their way onto my tai chi bookshelf and I am looking forward to rectifying that situation very soon with the help of this gift certificate. Thank you so much!
Shelia Rae, the new product distributor in the USA, is doing a great job of dealing efficiently with orders and getting them dispatched quickly. Great service! Thank you again.'
Winner 3: Tim Chinn, Anchorage, AK
'I was thrilled to be one of the recent winners of a $100 gift certificate. I have found the videos very helpful in my teaching and inspirational to my students. In the past, I had regularly ordered DVD's and videos of Tai Chi for Arthritis from Celia. In this recent transaction from Sheila, I found she made the process very simple and I am appreciative of the smooth transition.
Just look at the diversity of locations! I’m so lucky to have tai chi friends from all over the country!'
Thanks for shopping with TCP,
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“Round my Indiana homesteads wave the cornfields,
In the distance loom the woodlands clear and cool.
Oftentimes my thoughts revert to scenes of childhood,
Where I first received my lessons, nature's school.”
(Written and composed by Paul Dresser and adopted as the Indiana state song.)
In his composition entitled “On the Banks of the Wabash,” Paul Dresser describes a wondrous a place where he grew up. The house he grew up in - where he was touched by nature as he experienced the beauty of life - is located in Fairbanks Park just above the banks of the Wabash River in Terre Haute, Indiana.
I visited Fairbanks Park on April 28, 2007. The purpose for the visit was not to watch the river nor to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, but rather to enjoy the spirit of joining the World Tai Chi and Qigong Day celebration here in Terre Haute. This was special because Terre Haute is the site of Dr Lam’s 2006 and 2007 U.S. Tai Chi Workshops. As in Dresser’s day, this day too was marked by a rejoicing in the beauty of life.
I was overjoyed to be invited to attend the event organized locally by Denise Duggan. Denise is a remarkable individual who has for years organized a World Tai Chi Day event that is getting bigger and better each year. She began studying tai chi several years ago (I won’t say how many) with an instructor who has long since moved on to Chicago. After her instructor left the community, Denise kept the spirit of tai chi alive by teaching at various venues in the community. Today she teaches at the senior center and organizes Tai Chi in the Park events. She continued her own learning by using videos and attending workshops. Last year she attended Dr Lam’s workshop in Terre Haute and greatly enjoyed that experience.
This year, through the efforts of Denise and her students, Kevin Burke, the mayor of Terre Haute, joined the many government officials worldwide who recognized the day. This recognition enhanced the feeling of growth and success in a state that struggles with obesity, smoking and diabetes.
The event featured group and individual performances of different forms and styles. Additionally, the bounties of nature were shared by individuals from around the Wabash valley who teach and study tai chi. Many personal stories were shared about how tai chi has influenced individual lives. However, the most important outcome of the day was to share in the spirit of tai chi – a spirit that Denise truly epitomizes. I am sure that everyone who celebrated with us that day felt that connection with nature that Dresser described in his song “On the Banks of the Wabash”.
Editor's note: Denise Duggan was the recipient of a special award (see story above) at the tai chi workshop in Terra Haute, in June 2007, for her contribution to tai chi and for her ability to inspire others to practice it.
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In a letter to Dr Lam, accompanying this article, Maree explained that she has recently been teaching tai chi to a young man with brain injury. She says, “…he is such an inspiration and I have learned a lot since we began lessons a few months ago.”
“Steve and his mother are very pleased to share their experience in the hope that maybe another person like him will begin tai chi and enjoy the benefits, or that maybe a few more allied health professionals will think outside the square and suggest tai chi as an adjunct to more established therapy methods.”
Steve Pertsch had a brain haemorrhage 8 years ago when he was just 21. He was fit and healthy but he was born with a weakness in an artery that burst without warning. His recovery has been a long process and is ongoing.
His wonderful family has supported his rehabilitation every step of the way and it has taken a lot of work for Steve and his relatives and therapists to get him to the stage where he is walking and talking. When his mother Robyn (who is his main carer, therapy assistant and advocate) asked the local Queensland Health Community-based Rehabilitation Team if there was something else besides his therapy program that they could recommend to improve Steve’s balance and muscle control, they contacted me to ask about tai chi. As a physiotherapist who has previously worked on the team and an accredited leader for Dr Lam’s Tai Chi for Arthritis (TCA) and Back Pain programs, I felt confident that Steve would benefit. I spoke with Robyn and she asked me about the TCA program and about my qualifications and experience with students with neurological and other chronic conditions. I also provided some articles written by Dr Lam about the proven benefits of his Tai Chi for Health programs (these are available on his website). We were pleased when Steve agreed to give it try.
Steve’s condition has left him with visual problems, he has muscle tightness, his movements are hard to control due to tremor and his balance and short-term memory are affected. But he has a wicked sense of humour, a steely determination and a huge desire to improve. And he likes to work hard at any exercise he is given.
I visit Steve and Robyn at their home each week and they both do the lesson with me. Robyn takes notes, and asks lots of questions (as she has done at every stage of Steve’s recovery), and this assists her to practise with him between lessons. She also revises with Dr Lam’s DVD. We work through each lesson just as we would in a regular class, but with some modifications to suit Steve’s abilities. I stand in a particular spot and work against a contrasting background so he can see me better. We use a lot of repetition, verbal cues and landmarks in the room to get the correct direction for the movements. Together we have worked out the best way to manage Steve’s tremor and to ensure he is safe when stepping. Sometimes when doing the moves we work on arm movements in a sitting position before attempting to co-ordinate arms with legs. It’s a team effort.
Robyn feels the benefits of tai chi for herself as well as seeing the changes in Steve. They look forward to each lesson to see what challenges it will bring and what we can achieve. We move, we focus, we adapt and we laugh a lot – and I cried a bit when Steve managed Waving Hands in the Clouds on his own for the first time. By following Dr Lam’s advice about listening to your students with your ears, your eyes and your heart some wonderful things can happen. I am humbled by this inspirational young man’s desire to improve, and if you are also a TCA leader, I hope one day you have the privilege of teaching a student like Steve.
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Psoriasis is an unsightly skin condition which can cause considerable psychological stress. Although this common condition is not curable, many effective treatments are available to improve it.
Psoriasis causes raised, red patches often covered with a silvery scale. The rash can be itchy and can occur anywhere on the body, especially the elbows, knees, scalp, groin, armpits and genital area. Psoriasis can also damage the nails and cause pain and swelling of the joints (arthritis).
Psoriasis can start at any age, but first appears most often in young adults. It is a fluctuating, lifelong illness which frequently runs in families. Flare-ups can be triggered by infections, injury to the skin, emotional stress and certain drugs. It is not contagious.
Treatments for psoriasis
Psoriasis can be well controlled in the vast majority of cases. Treatment is usually started with a cream or ointment.
Steroid creams work quickly and are the most commonly used treatment. However, with long term use, they become less effective and can cause thinning of the skin.
Coal tar is another proven first line therapy. Newer preparations are now available which are not smelly or greasy and do not stain the skin or bedding, like the older products. Tar shampoos are useful for scalp psoriasis and the resulting dandruff.
Calcipotriol, tazarotene and dithranol creams are also effective, although the latter can stain clothes and skin.
Emollients such as 10% glycerol in sorbolene cream are soothing and help relieve irritation. Salicylic acid is often added to soften and lift thick, scaly areas.
Ultraviolet light therapy and potent oral (by mouth) medication is available from specialists in more severe or widespread cases.
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Warning: Dr. Lam does not necessarily endorse the opinion of other authors. Before practicing any program featured in this newsletter, please check with your physician or therapist. The authors and anyone involved in the production of this newsletter will not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any injury which may arise as a result of following the instructions given in this newsletter.