Newsletter #130 - June 2012
- Modernised Tai Chi, Paul Lam
- The Art of Building a Tai Chi for Health Business, Mike and Denise Soric
- Bayside Tai Chi Flash Mob, Bruce Kaplan
- How Tai Chi Impacts my Life, Pat Webber
- Finding Balance, Caroline Demoise
- Teaching TCA to Individuals Living with Multiple Sclerosis, Linda Ebeling
- Feature Profile – Nuala Perrin, Pamela McNutt and Linda Turner
- Humour, Laughter and Radiant Health, Bob McBrien
- Dr Paul Lam was inspired by a famous Chinese painter to re-examine the description of the Tai Chi for Health programs. He finds the term Modernised tai chi to be a more accurate description.
- Mike and Denise Soric outline some essential principles; ideas and tips that will help develop a sustainable Tai Chi for Health business in the community.
- Tai Chi flash mobs now a trend in Perth and Melbourne?Pat Webber delivers a brilliant description of how tai chi has an impact her life and how tai chi provides excellent life lessons to enhance us.Learning tai chi improves physical balance, but that is not the only reason the world needs tai chi. Caroline Demoise discusses the importance of balance in maintaining a healthy life.
- Linda Ebeling shows the positive effects participants have felt studying Dr Lam’s Seated TCA her Seated TCA class for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis.
Jul 07-08. Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
Jul 21-22. Tai Chi for Energy Instructor Training
Aug 02-03. Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
Aug 25-26. Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
Mike and Denise Soric, Senior Trainer and Tai Chi for Health Instructor, Townsville, QLD, Australia
At the beginning of 2010 we uprooted our little Tai Chi for ‘Busy People’ business from Mackay to move [up the road] to Townsville. A bit of a hot climate change and shock at first, but here we are nearly two years on. We had been fortunate to be invited to complete many tai chi for health gentle exercise programs for various interest groups and have received an extraordinary amount of support from Queensland Health’s Tropical Health Unit. Their support looks like continuing with many Tai Chi for Health projects scheduled for start-up in February 2012.
- Developing your understanding and practice of the essential tai chi principles,
Following Dr. Paul Lam’s proven Step-Wise techniques,
- And, above all to do no harm.
Believe in the product … Be passionate and enthusiastic, remember that tai chi for health gentle exercise programs do really work. We know that, but sometimes it takes others much longer to realize this. And keep in mind that a rejection today may be an approval in the future as everyone’s circumstances change.
Refer to your support group … Dr. Paul Lam and his Tai Chi for Health Institute has a combined wealth of experience, knowledge and information that no one person could hope to gather on their own. Look for information that is already out there, to help you.
Network! Network! Network! … Really look at your local area, your community, town or region. See what is available for people now; find out who is able to provide funding for health initiatives and start talking to people about the benefits of tai chi. Go to training sessions on how to write grant applications, or how to market and/or promote your organization … make business contacts.
Be professional … We can’t stress this enough, get to know people, be co-operative and easy to work with. Help organizations to deal with their barriers in allowing a tai chi for health program to be run on their property or with their people. Make it easy for them, give them solutions to obstacles. Make sure you have adequate insurance both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity.
A ‘Corporate Image’ helps … A uniform such as the tai chi for health polo shirt, is a good start. Sometimes our contacts get quite surprised when they see us at social functions without our tai chi shirts and black pants on. A web-site has certainly helped our business, but remember to keep it up-to-date and relevant. And a ‘Business Card’ is essential.
Help others … Look for opportunities to help, mentor, network and share experiences with other tai chi for health Instructor/Leaders in your area. Work together if you can as it is all for the common good of tai chi for health. They may be able to help you one day.
Bayside Tai Chi Flash Mob
Bruce Kaplin, Tai Chi for Health Instructor, Sandringham, VIC, Australia
A Tai Chi “flash mob” descended on the seaside Farmers Market at Trey Bit Reserve in Sandringham, Melbourne on Saturday April 21.
About 40 local Tai Chi students walked around shopping. Suddenly they put down their bags of fruit and vegetables to give an unexpected eight-minute Tai Chi display.
Surprised market goers stopped and stared as the group followed Jackie Watt, the leader, perform and then repeat the first section of the Tai Chi for Arthritis form. A small boy about four years old joined in and happily tried to follow the moves.
Not a word was spoken and the “mob” dispersed as quickly as it appeared. The crowd that gathered around to watch clapped when it was over.
The idea was the brainchild of well-known Bayside community instructor Jackie Watt.
“We did it just for fun,” she said. “There had already been a Tai Chi flash mob in Perth. I got the idea to hold one at the market when I was cycling past two months ago.”
It was great fun and a great success.
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How Tai Chi Impacts My Life
Pat Webber, Master Trainer, Kogarah, NSW, Australia
When I started going to tai chi I was a blank slat which in retrospect was pretty good, I went because a friend asked me to go with her, all I knew was next Tuesday night I was going with Judy to tai chi. I though it was some sort of exercise and obviously Chinese, other than that nothing.
So I didn’t have the worry, you know people turn up to tai chi they’ve heard it’s relaxing, at the end of the first lesson they are not relaxed, so they think it really hasn’t worked for them, so I had none of that expectation. I was going to do some exercise and I found that pretty pleasant, the movements were lovely the people were very nice to be with so I was enjoying it so I kept going, my friend didn’t and this was about 21 year ago so I’ve kept it up.
So as I said first I just thought I was going to do exercise and I started to realise that my balance was perhaps better, my flexibility was good and there were general improvements like that but to me it was still a time slot in the week where I went to tai chi, it hadn’t really connected with the rest of my life. There was a time slot to go to the class; there were time slots to do some practise and that was it. So at the end of the first year I though well I know tai chi, I can get through the 24 forms but other people in the group were talking about feeling their Chi flowing, now I still didn’t get this chi business, let alone feel anything. So I though well I better keep going, there’s more going on here than I’m aware of yet. After a while I began to see similarities between what the instructors were saying and what parents, teachers, other people had said to me over the years, the words were different but the messages were the same.
Where the instructor at tai chi would say “feel crown of your head pressing up towards the ceiling”, the teacher at school would have given me a poke in the back and said “stand up straight”, so where my mother would have said “for goodness sake will you finish one thing before you start another” the instructor at Tai Chi said “every move should be completely finished before you go onto the next one”. So at one stage I used to amuse myself by imagining that my mother had meet Yang Cheng Fu, so in effect my life lessons were helping me to understand tai chi.
After a while the circle turned and what I was learning in tai chi were becoming life lessons for me. I found first of all that the meditative aspect of tai chi was a very real thing. When where learning our tai chi moves, were encouraged to keep our mind on the move were doing, don’t worry about that one you just messed up by putting the wrong foot forward, don’t worry about what’s coming up or then you’ll always mess up just get this one write, now if we can carry that philosophy over into everyday life it helps to relieve the stress, were not reliving the past or worrying about the future, were focusing on what’s happening now. I found that I could be more patient. People I teach now say “your really patient, how do you do that” and I say “well people who taught me were patient with me” So I think if we all pass that on, that message of just being patient with others people I think the world’s going to be a better place.
In tai chi we learn to modify our movements so that our bodies don’t suffer from what where trying to do. In life we can modify our attitudes in the way with which we deal with people, where told in tai chi to absorb the incoming force, feel with it and redirect it and how much better is that in our dealings with other people in situations than being confrontational and reacting immediately to some perceived problem.
In recent years I’ve heard Dr Lam advise instructors to look for what’s good in what people are doing before you start suggesting a point for improvement, I think this is a wonderful thing to do because I know I’m one of those people at home, who never ever shut the cupboard door, you always leave it open, you never put your coffee cup in the dishwasher you never do little things, good stuff’s going on, but it’s the little things that you can pick up on and I think for some reason that’s human nature and it’s a medical fact that our health improves if were nice to people.
The Ying and Yang concept I found a puzzle at first, I could get that there were opposites, I looked at this, ok so on the positive side we have guy, strong, bright, male. On the Ying side we have dull, weak, negative, female, I thought what, what were these guys on about. So that really irritated me at first thought, anyhow I did give it some thought, and then I though now it does depend on context, if you feel that you’ve got a medical problem you go to the Doctor he examines you, sends you for tests and the results come back negative, that’s good isn’t it. So very much depends on context. I love the expression oh stay within your comfort zone, that is extremely important when where teaching tai chi, we do not want people limping out of our classes, so we encourage that. Staying within the comfort zone mentally is not so good. I’m sure we all know people who are intent on staying within their comfort zone mentally they won’t go anywhere different, they won’t try a different food, they won’t put themselves into what they perceive a strange situation, so there’s the Ying and the Yang there. The essential principals that Chris talked about that we learn in tai chi are a great help in getting through our everyday life so there great to keep in mind.
I was fortunate that when I retired from work I had tai chi classes to go to and be involved with that gave some structure to my week and I’ve been fortunate in being able to teach tai chi and move around in NSW and interstate, I’ve gone overseas and I’ve been a student and a teacher and whether I’m being a student or a teacher, I’m always learning something about tai chi and about myself.
Health is a question of balance. Years ago physician Dr Paul Brenner spoke on this topic in California. When I listened to him speak I was impressed with the simplicity of this profound concept, one that is essential not only to health but to tai chi.
In tai chi achieving physical balance during slow movements, feeling and expressing the yin and yang of each movement in your body and maintaining a balanced structural alignment during dynamic movements are all important in learning tai chi. As a therapeutic intervention, tai chi helps people find balance in their lives. Your body moves toward physical balance, emotional balance and mental equilibrium with tai chi. Stress is a major contributor to many acute and chronic health conditions. When people reduce stress by finding moments of peace and calm that helps them rebalance the autonomic nervous system by shifting them to parasympathetic functioning during the slow relaxed movements, this nourishes and regenerates the body helping to restore balance.
When the sympathetic nervous system dominates, energy is mobilized for defence and actions needed to successfully engage in life. Think of pressing hard on the gas pedal in your car to remove yourself from a dangerous situation. The engine works hard. Resources like gas and oil are consumed, which later will need to be replenished. Eventually, if you don’t stop at the gas station to fill up, the car will not run. Our bodies are similar in that they need to rest after large expenditures of energy during physical activity, intense mental output or emotional upset. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, the body is repaired, refuelled and again becomes ready for action. There must be a flow between sympathetic and parasympathetic. People need to be active to be healthy and they need periods of rest to regenerate and rebalance. If you ask the medical profession, the consensus today is that more people are sympathetic nervous system dominant and would benefit from learning to activate parasympathetic functioning and becoming more balanced. There are few people who naturally exhibit balanced autonomic system functioning, which is why the world needs tai chi.
Tai chi helps you find this dynamic balance between activity and rest. Tai chi contributes to reprogramming your body for health. The underlying principles clearly express that all of life flows between yin and yang; that both extremes are essential to wholeness. When yang is over accentuated and highly valued, the counterbalance of yin suffers. In push hands practice; you vividly experience this when you are not able to neutralize the incoming force to remain upright. Relaxing into a push is essential to achieving balance in the situation. Relaxing in life, finding that place of jing mind, that experience of open, aligned song body is an essential to the nourishment and healing of mind and body that gives you resources to be energetic in the world. Tai chi activates the parasympathetic nervous system, giving you those precious moments to relax and regroup to meet life’s demands. Tai chi skill and health are both rely on balance.
Teaching Seated TCA to Individuals Living with Multiple Sclerosis
Linda Ebeling, Senior Trainer, Eagan, MN, USA
The students from my MS Water Exercise knew my passion for tai chi and we have incorporated tai chi movements into the aquatics class. They had a taste and wanted to take their tai chi out of the pool. Since September 2011, I’ve been teaching a Seated TCA class for individuals living with MS. Before our first class, participants completed a written survey in which they rated their physical abilities and challenges. They also expressed what they would like to achieve from class.
During a typical lesson, a large portion of class is spent doing Dr Lam’s TCA warm-ups. I break these down, teaching the movements in sections, with multiple repetitions. We take time to enjoy the movements and breathing without expectations. As recommended in chapter 11 of Dr Lam’s, Teaching Tai Chi Effectively, we are careful to avoid overheating and fatigue, taking frequent breaks. To regulate body heat, students are encouraged to bring a water bottle and wear layers. Few participants have chosen to do any movements standing, but are encouraged to try when and if they feel ready.
After 12 weeks of class, students filled out the survey again, with pleasing results. They all felt they had made improvements from practicing tai chi. The biggest benefit was stress relief and a more positive attitude. One of the participants, Candi, states, “It has improved my physical and emotional outlook. I’m less depressed.” Many noted they enjoyed the muscle stretching and strengthening. Rose, who uses a wheelchair says, “my body overall is feeling better.” Balance improved, even for those who did not stand during class. Working through the legs and feet and emphasizing proper body mechanics while seated benefited their balance. They also reported increased range of motion and increased lower body strength. The participants were all encouraged by the improvements they felt from practicing chair TCA. “I always walk better after class than before,” Jane exclaims, “I absolutely love tai chi.”
Nuala attended school in Manchester and went on to study at college in Manchester gaining an HCIMA in Hotel Management. She worked for many years in the same hotel. For the rest of her career Nuala managed large hotels for an International Hotel Group. She took on training of students in the catering industry, also organising a training scheme to send trainees to Europe for further experience.
Nuala was always very interested in sports, especially running, and eventually took up Tai Chi, including Qi Gong. Her two brothers who practised Martial Arts encouraged her. They were to help her when she had a health scare and decided to concentrate on Tai Chi to keep a better balance in her life and to improve her health and mental relaxation. Nuala decided to help others that had experienced similar health difficulties. She has done this by teaching Tai Chi and Qigong at Hospices and Cancer Research Centres and is still running for Cancer Charities.
Whilst attending Tai Chi classes she heard about Dr Lam and his workshops in the UK and started attending these workshops. Nuala has attended USA workshops each year since 2007 and continues teaching Dr Lam’s programmes to students and health groups. She became a Senior Trainer in 2009 and was invited to become a Master Trainer in 2010.
Nuala’s vision of working with Senior Trainers to expand the programme and of working with Master Trainers in Europe is already happening. The goal is to have a Tai Chi family bringing the Tai Chi Health Programmes to more people, so that they might have the benefits that she had to improve their health.
More recently Nuala attended the Master/senior Trainer workshop in Italy- a fantastic experience that she would repeat in an instant.
It is clear to those of us who are privileged to work alongside Nuala that her professional and personal experiences have added huge depth to her ability as a Tai Chi Master Trainer. Her organisational skills are excellent, she is very focused in what she wants to achieve, has clear expectations of her support team and achieves very positive outcomes for all.
Her boundless enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment through practising and teaching Tai Chi shine through at all times. Nuala welcomes all who participate with genuine warmth, patience, and willingness to share her immense skills and to open her heart.
Here are a few for your amusement.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism.
I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night
So you're a feminist...Isn't that cute!
I get enough exercise just pushing my luck.
If only I were as good as my dog thinks I am.
Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks
Whenever I say the word "exercise", I have to wash my mouth out with chocolate.
END OF NEWSLETTER
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.