Newsletter #22 - April 2003
- Essential Principles for Beginners
- Fire Breathe by Troyce Thome
- Herbal medicine
- New Zealand workshop - report from Paul and organizer Toi
- Why do I do Tai Chi by Cynthia Fels
- New Voice CD for Tai Chi for Arthritis
- Value of Tai Chi videos
The easiest and fastest way to activate energy in the body is through use of a Yogic Pranayama called "Breath of Fire". Breath of fire officially known as Kapalabhati (shining skull breath) is rapid diaphramatic breathing which increases body heat and sets up the conditions for effective energy release.
This breath is valuable for anyone who exercises and most certainly for Tai Chi and Qigong practictioneers.
The positive effects of breath of fire are as follows:
1. Increases brain respiration (also called safe brain washing). This breath acts as a brain massage that opens up capillaries and invigorates the cells and endocrine glands and is completely without danger as the pressure remains within normal physiological limits; only circulation is increased.
2. Substantially increases expulsion of carbon dioxide from cells.
3. Extensive recycling and reoxygenation of venous blood flow.
4. Activation of the life centers; particularly the second and third energy centers known as chakras in Yoga. These two chakras are equivalent to the ming-men and lower tan tien centers in the Tai Chi and Qigong traditions..
5. Intensifies chi or pranic activity in the organism.
6. Purifies the lungs and maintains the suppleness of spongy tissue. The exchanges become more active.
7. Strengthens and maintains mobility of the diaphram.
8. Tends to strengthen and eliminate fatty deposits of the abdominal muscles.
9. Tones and massages the internal organs of the abdominal cavity.
10. Improves digestion and acts as a powerful tonic for the entire nervous system.
11. Activates intestinal peristalisis and fights both spastic and atonic constipation.
12. Profoundly effects the sympathetic nervous system in a positive manner.
If interested, find a teacher who is reasonably adept at Pranayama techniques and check out the "Breath of Fire"; you may become pleasantly surprised.
Iyengar,B.K.S. Light on Pranayama, Crossroads Publishing Company, New York ,1996.
Janakananda Saraswati,Swami. Yoga, Tantra and Meditation , Samuel Weiser Inc., York Beach, Maine, 1975.
Mishra, Rammurti S.,M.D. Fundamentals of Yoga, Anchor Books, New York, 1974.
Rama, Swami, Ballentine,R.M.D., Hymes,A.M.D. Science of Breath, Himalayan Institute, Honsdale, Pennsylvania, 1979.
Path of Fire and Light, Himalayan Institute, Honsdale, Pennsylvania, 1986.
Rav,JC Karmesvara. Yoga and Tantra, Bhavani Printers, Hyperabad, 1984.
Sinh, Pacham. The Hatha Yoga Padipika. Oriental Press, New Delhi, 1914.
van Lysebeth, Andre. Pranayama, Unwin Hyman Limited, London, 1979.
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A medical colleague told me that one of his patients took some herbal medicine and nearly died from arsenic poisoning. He traced the cause of it and found that this patient took a lot of Chinese herbal medicines. At first glance, the type of herbs he was taking seemed harmless, but later it was found that they were grown by herb farmers who used either illegal insecticides or used them inappropriately so that some of the herbs contained a lethal percentage of arsenic.
This reminds me of occasional reports of inappropriate use of insecticides that cause humans to get poisoned from eating vegetables or fruit. I've also seen reports of "alternative" medication with potent drugs such as cortisones and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs hidden in them. People get serious and even lethal side effects from taking what they think are harmless substances, foods or medicines. It's important for all of us to take more interest in our bodies and to find out more about what we're eating or taking and not assume that things can be totally harmless. There are always unethical people trying to make a profit from you!
In fact, any therapy, orthodox or alternative, can do potential harm to your body. The Arthritis Foundation of America has a saying, which goes something like: "If it does something beneficial for you, it can harm you as well." For example, Tai Chi is shown to benefit all aspects of health, but it, too, can have side effects. Like any exercise there is the potential for injury. Using Tai Chi for health improvement is more effective and safer when combined with modern medical knowledge.
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By Paul Lam
Wellington is a beautiful city. The workshop coordinator, Toi Walker, who had to pick up several people flying in from different parts of New Zealand, including us, had a large sign pinned onto the front of his T-Shirt that said "Tai Chi for Arthritis."
The workshop was held at a Marae. To my understanding: It's a meeting place, a temple and a place where important ceremonies are conducted with the Maori people. It's a spiritual place that symbolises a human body. When you walk into the house, its as though you are walking into the body of a person. The top ornament is the head and the roof is the ribs with the top of the roof as the spine. The Marae is beautifully done. One can tell it was built with love and devotion. Visitors must wait outside for the host to invite you in. Usually, a female host conducts this ceremony with a song of invitation. Visitors reply with another song as they walk slowly, ceremoniously and with sincerity. Once inside, the formal welcoming ceremony includes the host's speech that starts with honouring the ancestors and tribal heads. The guests then introduce themselves. After this, both parties greet each other by touching the forehead and nose with everyone. This greeting is called a Hongi. This greeting symbolises that since we share the same breath we cannot be enemies. This was a wonderful welcome.
Various important tribal heroes are symbolised by huge wooden statues surrounding and to protect the Marae. Like many other old cultures in the world, tradition and recognition of spiritual needs are the cornerstone of the society.
Tai Chi is an art, with its own special spirit. I felt the rhythm and the spirit of the Maori people resonate with Tai Chi spirit. The Tai Chi spirit enhances all kinds of positive spirits.
Some people consider Tai Chi's "spirit" to be mind domineering and think it could be a hindrance to their religious beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The spirit of Tai Chi is like a mental strengthening, something like what people feel when they're happy or "in good spirits." The spirit of Tai Chi isn't evil or possessive. Just the opposite. It helps people to feel better, think more clearly and become mentally stronger to deal with stress and problems. In this sense, it will make people more equipped to serve their community, religion and whatever they else they wish to contribute to.
The first day of the workshop went very well. The atmosphere was excellent. The Maoris have a great community spirit. They love to sing and their body rhythm works well with Tai Chi. They have learned the art of Tai Chi quickly. We were also fortunate to have many well-qualified participants and experienced Tai Chi practitioners, who tended to lead and inspire the others.
Maoris, like the Chinese and many other native races who are not genetically built for the modern Western diet and lifestyle, tend to develop chronic diseases like diabetes and heart diseases.
Looking at the way my new friends integrating Tai Chi, like the way they integrate with nature, it is all very natural. Tai Chi was created based on the understanding of nature, it seems natural to me that Tai Chi will work exceptionally well with the native races to prevent chronic diseases and promote better health. I have this gut feeling that this workshop is the start of great things. My fellow master trainer Elva and me both felt very fulfilled that we had worked with 51 very positive and wonderful people who are going to share this art with many, many others.
From Toi Walker - Co-ordinator
Kia Ora Paul,
Thanks so much for your gratitude towards the work that took place in organizing the workshop! It was hard, but the results truly out way the stresses of organizing. To see the look on peoples faces as their names were called to receive certificates, an indication of the hard work they had put in, was just an awesome experience! words cant describe the feelings! Congratulations to everyone!
Thank you so much for your passion and drive for your Tai Chi for Arthritis programme! you are an inspiration to many! It is re-assuring to know there are so many wonderful people like you in the world, who commit to making positive changes in peoples lives! I truly believe you will be blessed for your efforts.
I commend you for your work!.
The only way I know how to thank you is to offer your programme to as many people as I can, so they may experience the heath benefits from your programme as well.
I have a personal testimony of your programme. As an ex rugby player I have abused my body for many years! old injuries re-appearing, sore shoulders, back, knees and ankles. I am not a Doctor but I had a feeling that what I was experiencing was a form of arthritis. Too scared to visit my Doctor as I didnt want to hear him say the words "A.......S"
Since practising and teaching TCA for a little over a year now, I can truly say now! "where has the pain gone" I used to wake up most mornings stiff, and sore. Walking in the mornings was like a shuffle, pain in my knees, ankles,(probably from been twisted and sprained so many times)BUT I'M NOT A DOCTOR!! I felt like an old man at the age of 30ish! now don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being an old man! I'll catch him up one day! But I did feel that I'm not going to be able to run around with my
children, and show my sons how good dad use to be! A dad still needs to prove himself, even if it meant not been able to walk for the next couple of days afterwards. So thanks to your progarmme Paul, I can still show my boys a thing or two! and run for the rest of the week!!
Thank you Paul, your presence during the workshop was a humbling experience, If the person that you are is an example of what Tai Chi can do, Then, Tai Chi is for me! That's not to say you were not a good person before! You were a great person before, just greater now!!
My wife Janeen tells me she has noticed a change in me, my patience has improved, she recons I only beep the horn once when we are waiting in the car for her, instead of 4 long beeps! So Tai Chi is working for me!
Many thanks to Elva for here wonderful caring nature. You are right Paul, she is one of the best MT, even though Elva is the only one I have met, she is still the best! The course wouldn't have been so successful if it didn't have great instructors like you two! I believe we were spoilt by having two great people and I believe the success is owed to you both.
Thanks to Anna and the team, who dropped what they were doing to answer our pleas for help, great work team! and appreciate you all! If I were your Boss, I would give you a PAY RISE! ...But i guess you will have to settle with the hearts for now!
My sincere thanks to Sue Fry, who I just found out which daughter of hers I used to go to school with! Thanks heaps Sue for your kindness, your friendship, your hospitality towards Paul and Elva, for your support and encouragement you gave me. At times the road was hard and the journey long, but your sweet emails of inspiration picked me up and lightened the load and shortend the journey. Thanks so much Sue! Life is so much easier when someone cares and shares! God Bless!
A special thanks to Hiria Tua who was instrumental in securing funds from ACC Injury Prevention Wairarapa Division who helped sponsor Paul and Elva, which made the workshop affordable and enjoyable for all. Thanks Hiria for your support and guidance throughout the weekend. Thanks for the promtings, one always needs to be promted! Thanks also for the taxi service on the
Sunday and all round help.
Last but not least! actually the mostest thanks to all of you who participated, who made sacrifices of all kinds, financial, physical, social, family and everthing else thats was sacrificed to attend THANX, THANX, THANX!! With out you there would have been no workshop! If there was no workshop there wouldnt be over 50 certified trainers, and if there werent 50 trainers there wouldnt be as many Tai Chi classes running to help improve the quality of life for so many people! So THANX to you all!
The course was really an awesome experience for everyone, including myself. It was a great opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. Everyone participating bought something special with them that added to the energy, the Chi and the spirit of the workshop. I am positive that everyone left with something even more special and will treasure the experience.
I have a testimony and vision that Tai Chi can help so many people. But it takes a lot of people who share same vision to make a difference in the world. Before the workshop there was only a few! Now the workshop is completed, there is over 50 of you! together let us make a difference!
It was a little sad to return to the Marae on Tuesday for our regular class of 8 and reflect upon that something special that happened at Papawai on easter, The birth of something new and wonderful!
Hope to see you at the January workshop Australia 2004!
Love to All
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A friend once asked me: "Why do I do Tai Chi?"
This was my answer:
Why do I do Tai Chi? My reasons are many.... I do Tai Chi to make my mind forget all the things that seem so senseless in our world, like war, hatred, and rape. I do Tai Chi to build my chi, to feel energy radiating from my toes to my fingertips. I do Tai Chi because I love it and to heat cold hands and feet. To become mindless, yet physical well and to still my mind and the world. To make my cat's eyes get all wide with wonder and excitement. To feel my feet touch the earth and to feel how deeply rooted my feet are with the trees. I do Tai Chi as a daily act of improvisation and as a daily act of ritual. I do Tai Chi for power, for consistency in my life and to have strong legs. I do Tai Chi to feel the ocean currents that are swirling in my mind and body. To be one with nature and the earth. I do Tai Chi so harbor seals will train their warm puppy like eyes upon me. To be alone and to be with others. To stave off a cold. To move with the jellies. To calm and center and to wake and energize. Because it feels good. To push myself to new limits. To chase shadows out of dark corners. To put sunshine on my nose. I do Tai Chi because it is erotic. I do Tai Chi to learn and grow, listen to birds, my own heartbeat, and to make myself be in the moment. To become a human tuning fork. I do Tai Chi to fluidly move through this sea of air that we find ourselves in. And I do Tai Chi to be -- just be, and ultimately for no reason!
Cynthia Fels--Certified Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor
Pacific Grove, California
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Dr Paul Lam Talks You Through Tai Chi for Arthritis
I've just completed a voice CD designed to be used for anyone teaching or learning the Tai Chi for Arthritis program. It includes the Basic and Advanced 6, the reverse side of the 12 movements and Part 2 of the complete program. There are 10 tracks. Each segment has offers a "learning speed" and a "practising speed." It will be useful for anyone involve in the program. Use it to assist your class; your students can use it to practice at home. It's not designed to be used on its own but rather with the TCA class, the instructional videos or the book "Overcoming Arthritis."
Click here for more information.
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Books are invaluable as a learning tool, but videos have advantages over books for Tai Chi. In the art of "action", a picture is worth a thousand words and a video, which is has numerous moving pictures, is worth many times more than that.
Admitted, without writings, Tai Chi would not have been passed onto the next generation, as it has so far. No one will deny the invaluable contribution of books.
On the other hand, when I saw the original footage of Cheng Men Ching in video, I was surprised that he was not what I imagined from his writings that he would be. And I have learned a great deal from that footage. Watching video or films of other renowned Tai Chi experts has inspired and helped me to understand a lot more about Tai Chi.
The value of books and videos both are immeasurable. The value of the video has not yet been fully appreciated. History will tell us how invaluable it is. Books have been around for thousands of years; you cannot imagine what Tai Chi would be like without books. I cannot imagine what Tai Chi would be like without videos. Technology is here to enrich and to facilitate our learning.
Thousands of people who have learned Tai Chi from our videos have gained significant improvements in health. Videos like ours are produced with meticulous planning and professional quality. Each one has involved many experts, and the most useful and relevant information, packed into a 1-2 hour video, in an easy-to-learn manner. Not many teachers could have a teaching session that involves so much planning, testing, and collection of wisdom in such a short time.
Naturally the ideal way to learn is by having a combination of the best teacher, a book and video. But not all of us can have the ideal situation. In fact, the most important factors in learning is your own perseverance along with a good teacher. I believe that a well-produced video is a more effective learning tool than a bad teacher. Many large corporations have used videos successfully for employee training.
What are the advantages of videos?
- You can view the same movement as often as required.
- You might not find a teacher that suits you, but you can change videos anytime.
- You have the opportunity to work with some of the best instructors.
- You view inspiring performances by well-known practitioners.
- You can choose your favorite teaching style.
- Videos can be used as a learning aid together with face-to-face teaching.
- You can review points that you forget after your class.
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