Tai Chi Chuan, the great ultimate, strengthens the weak, raises the sick, invigorates the debilitated, and encourages the timidCheng Man Ching 1947
Join me Thursdays at 10am for a friendly ongoing weekly class of Shibashi Tai Chi Qigong at St Faith’s Parish Hall on West Parade.
“Qi” means energy. ‘Gong’ means work. In Qigong tai chi class we learn to work with our bodies in a focused way to direct the energy and unblock the stuck areas that we may be unaware of. We all have habitual ways of moving our bodies, often without awareness. You only become aware of the weakness or imbalance when you find yourself doing what would seem to be a very ordinary movement and your back or knee twinges in protest! This is because we often (over) reach in an unbalanced and unsupported way for that top shelf! So in learning tai chi qigong we explore ways to untangle our habitual ways of moving. We explore breathing into our bodies in a very open and relaxed way and then moving from our core by moving the arms from the spine and moving our legs from center. I often call it Chinese Pilates, because Joseph Pilates didn’t discover anything that the ancient warriors didn’t know about moving with strength from the core to generate power and balance in whatever situation arises.
In Chinese Philosophy T’ai Chi Ch’uan means, the ultimate source and limit of reality, from which spring yin and yang and all of creation. So we combine the idea of working with our body’s energy with the mental aspects of focused attention that creates our reality. It is a really deep practice that can be practiced on a variety of levels. At a purely physical level, it opens and relaxs the body and takes the joints through a slow range of motion exercise with slight resistance that creates a gradual strengthening of the bodily energy. It is ideal for those seeking a true mind-body exercise. We work with various postures and movements, but the core form is the Shibashi Tai Chi Qigong set.
All are welcome to come and join our relaxed and friendly group as we explore this beautiful art form of breathing and movement with increased focus and relaxation as our goal.
Thursdays 10am class runs continuously throughout the year.
The Thursday Tai Chi Qigong class cost is £6 and is on a drop in basis. No special equipment necessary, just clothes you can move freely in.
I look forward to seeing you there.
In 2005 I was looking for a yoga class, but couldn’t find one that ‘felt’ right for me. I was looking for fitness, but as someone who is quite flexible already, I also wanted strength, but an old injury would crop up everytime I attempted to ‘get fit’. I had been a college athlete and so my expectations for myself were quite high. I would jump in at a level that my body could not cope with (seeing as it was much older and had had three children!) So I started learning tai chi chuan, the 108 step Yang style form which took me over three years of fairly fanatical attendance at class two to three times a week to learn….I even journeyed to Master Yang Jun’s Yang Family Style Headquarters in Seattle for a month of classes.
I found myself drawn deeply into this fascinating and demanding art. It is not just waving your arms around to pan pipe music nor is it for wimps. It combines slow movements with resistance with mental focus on the body and breath. It will raise your fitness levels, increase your balance and lower your blood pressure, and is low impact on joints and requires zero special equipment. These are not just my claims, but have been demonstrated with scientific studies on regular practice. Regular tai chi qigong practice also provides an antidote to the busy-ness and often exhausting options for keeping our bodies fit and well.
For me it was the beginning of many changes in my life. It led me to study for a degree in Acupuncture. It helped me to learn to relax and flow a bit more in my life, an ongoing challenge for me. And it lead me to start teaching a weekly class of Yang style 108 form, but I found teaching the 108 form seemed to create the sort of attitude that most of us have about anything we go to ‘class’ for. There is an urgency to ‘finish’ learning the form. I had been there, impatient to learn the choreography before my body and mind had really ‘got’ the connection needed to ‘do’ the form with good structure and energy.
So one summer at a workshop, I learned the Shibashi form and I found a simpler form that contained all the beauty of the long form, but was much more accessible to students. Now this is the form I concentrate on teaching. I also teach the 24 step form which again is more accessible for students.
If you really learn the basic 10 principles of tai chi well, then you can apply them to any other sporting activities you are involved in. I love to ski and I remember so clearly feeling that skiing was like tai chi at speed! My tennis strokes were improved by my connection to the earth through my legs…. There is even a craze for Chi running and books going into great detail about these principles as applied to a variety of sports and even meditative movements such as yoga….
So for you I hope you catch the tai chi ‘bug’ as a few of my students have. There are so many great reasons to practice tai chi qigong Tai Chi uses relaxed movements with focus and a meditative state of mind to help you become more supple and relaxed. This beautiful hybrid of movement, meditation and focus has profound health benefits.
Consistent practice improves your balance; lowers stress and can have a beneficial effect on many chronic health conditions. This soft exercise can also increase flexibility; balance and muscle tone in a way that reduces the strain on joints and muscles.
Tai Chi practice helps you to relax deeply as you move which keeps muscles supple and soft rather than the stiffness and lack of flexibility that comes from sitting on the sofa too long or excessively hard exercise.
Tai Chi is a holistic exercise that places the main focus is on settling your mind, body and spirit down, becoming peaceful, not actively thinking in a certain way.
Tai Chi practice is a beautiful feeling. It is so simple, and yet it is a complex and demanding because it is so different to how we move and think in our daily lives. This practice helps calm stress and mental agitation after a busy day.
I teach two styles, Shibashi Tai chi form which is a simplified Qigong form that I hope you can learn and take away with you to establish your own practice. And also a 24 step Yang Style Tai Chi form. We will work with some of the Yang Family Style form as well. I do offer private coaching sessions if you want corrections and more individual attention.
I have trained with a variety of teachers since 2005, and with Master Yang Jun, the direct lineage holder of Yang Style Tai Chi in Seattle and his European director Therese Mei Mei Teo since 2009. In Tai Chi Chuan it is the fundamental posture and principles that are important, so if you have learned another style this class may still suit you.
Classs is held in St Faith’s Church Hall located on West Parade, just outside the city center. There is some parking in front of Elena’s cafe next door and two hour spaces are dotted around nearby. Please mind the signs and park carefully as the traffic wardens ticket often during the day, though in the evenings there is no danger of ticketing!