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Qigong workshops ***updated***

******Workshops Updates******

We had a fantastic time at the workshops this weekend and I personaly learnt much about qigong! The workshops were delivered by a teacher very knowledgable, compassionate and totally passionate about his subject. John Munro has given us an invaluable gift during this time, it is now up to ourselves to cultivate this.

Thank you to all of you who came to the workshops , I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did, and if you would like to have more of these types of workshops next year please don’t hesitate to feed this back to me. Any other feedback also very welcome, if you’d like to see a different location, or a different time, other topics covered….

Qigong Workshop 20/05/17

 

Workshop 2 Waves

Workshop 2 working the legs

Workshop 21/05/17

 

*****Happy practice*****

 

 

I am delighted to announce that John Munro from Long White Cloud Qigong will be visiting Inverness in May to take 2 qigong workshops. The dates for these will be Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of May 2017.

Workshop details:

Each workshop will last 2 hours and they will be held at the Inverness Royal Academy

Saturday 20-05-17 workshop running from 9am till 11am

Sunday 21-05-17 workshop running from 10am till 12 midday

The first workshop will be on Qigong foundation practices, which gives you a good grounding in breathing and working on your 12 meridians. There are specific movements which can be learnt to keep those meridians functioning well and in good health.

The second workshop will be on ‘Enter the flow’, this is excellent practice to give you a feel for energy in your body, and also to be very consciously and slowly moving in harmony with our bodies. A lot of my tai chi students will have been working on this module as a part of their tai chi.

These workshops are great for anyone looking to find out what Qigong is all about, but also if you are a reiki practitioner and /or do tai chi these will be invaluable. I heard someone say recently that ‘Tai chi without Qigong is like a Lamborghini without gas’…

To find out more about the courses that these workshops refer to, you can check out John’s website

http://longwhitecloudqigong.com/online-courses/

They are the 1st and 3rd courses listed. John has also written a book on Qigong foundation practices which is available on amazon.

Workshop prices:  we are running these as ‘give freely, receive freely’, whilst not free it means you can give what you feel comfortable giving, what you feel is right. Donations will go to help John with his travel expenses. Your donations make these workshops happen. You can pay by cash on the day or before hand by bank transfer or cheque, contact me for details.

To register your interest and book your place and for more information please get in touch with me Helene Fleming

By email helenehealing@hotmail.com

Phone or text 07985983160

Or PM me on Facebook

Starting well with tai chi!

I wanted to talk a little about what to expect when you first attend our Tai Chi classes. When you first come to the class you will be introduced to our warm up which we practice as a group. We then usually go over the first 17 moves of the tai chi set which form your foundations and is also referred to as the 1st third. It also gives you a more global view of what we do and allows you to play around with the moves.Because the class is a multi level class we then split into groups and I spend a while with each group level to introduce moves, to break them down and to spend time refining them. During your first class we will probably only break down 2 or 3 moves, which you then will have to retain and refine. Towards the end of class we usually bring things back together and practice either a full set or the first 17 moves again depending on how much time we have. At the end of the Wednesday class we usually also do a cool down.

Tai Chi takes a while to learn and it is good to remember that it is referred to as meditation in motion. When you practice your new moves it is good to get into a meditative state or to just ‘chill out’. I see beginners sometimes getting impatient and thinking they can handle a lot more than they are given. Bear in mind that some of the practitioners in the class have been attending for 1 or 2 years and therefore they will have more moves to practice. Remember also that we shouldn’t rush and hurry through the first moves. The first few moves that we learn are not just about moving our body in a certain way, they are also about getting into a certain frame of mind, one of awareness and openness.

Awareness about what we are actually doing, about how we feel the moves inside our bodies, about what it is that we are trying to achieve.

Openness towards what you are learning. Things may feel completely alien at first, however if we keep an open mind then we can get to the core of the practice.

It is also pointless to introduce and breakdown 10 new moves during your first class as little will be retained and practised. Tai Chi is learnt slowly and through lots of repetition, amongst other things it teaches us patience and resilience!

Tai Chi is part of Kung Fu, and is developed through hard and repetitive work. It is expected that newcomers should commit to tai chi for a while as it does take a few weeks for students to develop a feel for their practice and also to start gaining the benefits.

Tai Chi is definitely not about ego, it is not about being able to perform some cool moves, or about competition. I respect each and every practitioner for who they are and try to work at their own pace. Tai Chi is about a personal journey of developing and maintaining our own personal energetic, physical, mental and emotional equilibrium. For some it also becomes part of a spiritual journey.

Tai Chi is non religious, it is open to all. When you come to the class you will be treated with respect, understanding and non judgement and I hope you can approach your class in the same way.

I hope you will enjoy your classes, and that you know that I am always there to answer your burning questions or to demonstrate a move again and again. That is all part of the fun! 🌟

The importance of Wuji

When we start Tai Chi, whether our sessions or our very first class we go through our preparation stance which is wuji.

Now, very often we go over this stance very quickly because we do not have enough to time to go into it in great detail. However when you are at home you can take a few minutes to get into this stance properly before starting your tai chi practice.

What is wuji?

To try and explain this very simply, wuji is the  nothingness that precedes anything/everything, it is the absence of thought and movement, it is the quiet that occurs before Tai Chi and to which we return at the end of tai chi.  When there is separation , movement then yin and yang occur and that is Tai Chi. Let’s take a look at a couple of diagram that attempt to explain it.



Before we start to move, before Tai Chi can occur there is wuji.

Why is this important to my practice?

When you practice or cultivate this stance before your tai chi session you will be in a better frame of mind and will be better able to observe your practice therefore getting more out of it. Your body will be relaxed and will have released a lot of tensions and be better able to do tai chi.

How do I practice Wuji?

Get into you preparation stance. Feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward, hands relaxed by your side, shoulders relaxed. Open your joints, have a slight bend in the knees and put your hips in neutral  (not forward or back), the lower half of your body feels heavy and rooted, the upper half light and pulled gently up. Breathe normally through your nose and stay like this for a few moments maybe even a couple of minutes. After this you can open tai chi. At the end of your practice return into wuji stance and stay there a few more moments.

This teaches us to take time to empty ourselves before our practice so that we can get replenished.

If you manage to get some time to practice this, please let me know how it felt, if it made a difference to your practice. 

Feel free to post a comment or to ask questions if you have any. 

Happy practice!

The Benefits of Learning Tai Chi

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Generally nowadays we can imagine what tai chi is, we can even look at tai chi practitioners on YouTube or similar platforms and marvel at the fluidity of movements. In China it is not rare to see groups of people practising tai chi ‘in the park’. Here in the UK there has been a growing interest in tai chi as well.  And you have maybe thought of joining a class… But you are maybe not quite sure what it is, how it will work and what it will ‘do’.

First off I would say that Tai Chi will be beneficial to all who practice it in a fairly regular fashion. The other important point to remember is that it does not address itself to a particular age group or level of fitness. Tai Chi comes from the same roots as martial arts. It needs a minimum of dedication to learn the set. The set is a series of movements which are learnt a little every week. In my classes, each week we warm up, practice some TaiChi altogether then split into groups to learn and practise our new moves. Each week you are given a new move or two to build on the sequence you already know. In between classes it is good to find some time to practice at home. In the beginning 5 minutes 4 times a week are enough. This way over the course of a few months you can learn the 108 moves that form the set quite effortlessly. Each person learns at their own pace. There is no one size fits all here.

The approach that I teach has a lot of emphasis on health benefits, but we also look at moves applications. Our practice remains non contact ( that means no sparring or practising the moves on someone else). Our lineage teaches a very traditional form of Yang style Tai Chi which was taught to our Japanese master before the cultural revolution. So this form has remained unabbreviated, unaltered, all the elements have been preserved. For more information on our lineage please view my post on Tai Chi Lineage.

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Master Fu Zhong Wen (part of our lineage)

You have heard before probably that TaiChi bring great health benefits. Let’s look in a little more depth at what those might be:

-TaiChi will help to build your core muscles, and your muscles generally which in turn will help to combat chronic aches such as lower back pain or knee pain.  Because Tai Chi is very low impact it reduces the risk of injuries and even helps those recovering from injuries.

-Tai Chi stretches your muscles, ligaments and tendons helping you keep a full range of movements. All through our lives we keep loosing flexibility. We can combat this and regain our flexibility through our practise.

-Improves balance. As you work through the set your balance will soon improve. The set comprises a lot of very stable poses as well as kicks and turn, which all help improve balance. Because we have to focus on our moves it also improves the balance in our mind.

-Improves your body, mind , spirit connection: very often we inhabit our bodies in a superficial manner. We are not used to working WITH our bodies.Tai Chi makes you very aware of how your body works, it also lets you inhabit your body fully, giving your full attention to ‘you’.

-Helps fight stress effectively. Tai Chi is often referred to as meditation in movement. It takes around 15 minutes for our bodies to get relaxed. The long form of Tai Chi takes around that much time to complete, so it is the perfect exercise to relax to. After you have practiced a while you also lose yourself in the movements and can fully relax your mind and enjoy the ’emptiness’.

-Lowers blood pressure and helps balance the immune system.

-Balances moods.

-Helps improve the circulation of Qi. In traditional Chinese medicine Qi is a vital component of our well being and so is its circulation. The aim of the Tai Chi set is to promote that circulation and help dissolve any blockages that may be in the way. It is not something you have to believe in. As you practice Tai Chi, you become more and more aware of the flow of Qi inside your body. You will probably experience it as warmth or tiggling sensations.

I hope this answers some of the questions that you may have when considering to start learning Tai Chi. The only way to answer all the questions is to start your practice. Approach your practice lightheartedly and openly, and most of all I hope you will enjoy it.

 

Beyond learning the tai chi set

Great news! We had 5 students finishing the set last week! Well done to them, they have worked hard and have worked consistently for a year or a bit more for others. But what does that mean….? As we know Tai Chi is a lifelong practice. Learning the moves to any tai chi set in like taking a step into a much larger world. Our students have learnt the 108 moves of the yang style, long form tai chi set and now they are on the first rung of the ladder. The hard work starts now, working beyond the moves is what awaits them. Developing their energy, the flow of that energy, developing the connections in their bodies. That is their next step. And that is why tai chi is a lifelong practise. To me it is a bit like the air that we breathe. Personally, It puts me in phase with myself, activates my whole being, I could not be without it. And so we are going to begin ‘refining’ the set this week. I wish them all good luck, and many years of joyful practice. 

Taichi Names of 108 moves

By popular request I thought I would give you a list of the moves that comprise the 108 moves set. Keep in mind that you may well see them referred as 85, 103… The moves may also Vary slightly according to how they are counted, how many repeats are included…Names can also have slight variations.

The sequence is usually broken down into thirds.

Names of moves for the 1st third:

1- Preparation

2-Opening

3- Ward off Left

4- Grasp the bird’s tail

5-Single whip

6-Step up and raise hands (shoulder strike)

7- White crane spreads wings

8-Brush knee (left)

9-Strum the pei-pa

10-Brush knee and twist step (left)

11-Brush knee and twist step (right)

12- Brush knee and twist step (left)

13- Strum the pei-pa

14-Brush knee (left)

15- Step forward, deflect, parry and punch

16-Appear to close entrance

17-Cross hands

And here are the names of the 2nd third:

18-Carry tiger to the mountain

19-Grasp the bird’s tail

20-Fist under elbow

21-Step back and repulse monkey (left)

22-Step back and repulse monkey (right)

23- Step back and repulse monkey (left)

24- diagonal slant flying

25-Step up and raise hands

26-White crane spreads wings

27-Brush knee (left)

28- Needle at sea bottom

29-Fan through the back

30-Turn and hammer with fist

31-Deflect, parry, punch

32-ward off left (diagonal)

33-Grasp the bird’s tail

34-Single Whip

35-Wave hands like clouds (x5)

36-Single whip

37-High pat on the horse

38-Part leg at right (toe kick)

39-Part leg at left (toe kick)

40-Turn, kick with left heel

41-Brush knee and twist step (left)

42-Brush knee and twist step (right)

43-Step up and punch low

44-Turn and hammer with fist

45-Deflect, parry, punch

46-Kick with right heel

47-Strike tiger at left

48-Strike tiger at right

49-Kick with right heel

50-Strike tiger at both sides

51-Kick with left heel

52-Pivot, kick with right heel

53-Deflect, parry and punch

54-Appear to close entrance

55-Cross hands

And finally the 3rd part:

56-Tiger returns to the mountain

57-Grasp the bird’s tail

58- Horizontal single whip

59-Part wild horse mane (right)

60-Part wild horse mane (Left)

61-Part wild Horse mane (right)

62-ward off left

63-Grasp the bird’s tail

64-Single Whip

65-Fair Lady’s shuttle-left

66-Fair lady’s shuttle-right

67-Fair lady’s shuttle-left

68-Fair lady’s shuttle-right

69-Ward off left

70-Grasp the bird’s tail

71-Single whip

72-Wave hands like clouds (x5)

73-Single whip (descending)

74-Snake creeps low

75-Golden pheasant stands on left leg

76-Golden pheasant stands on right leg

77-Step back and repulse monkey-right

78-step back and repulse monkey- left

79-Step back and repulse monkey-right

80-Diagonal slant flying

81-Step up and raise hands  (shoulder strike)

82-White crane spreads wings

83-Brush knee (left)

84-Needle at sea bottom

85-Fan through the back

86-White snake darts tongue

87-Deflect, parry, punch

88-Ward off left

89-Grasp the bird’s tail

90-Single whip

91-Wave hands like clouds (5)

92-Single whip

93-High pat on the horse

94-Penetrating palm

95-Turn and cross kick

96-Step up and punch downwards

97-Ward off

98-Grasp the bird’s tail

99-Single whip

100- Snake creeps down (2)

101-Step up to seven stars

102-Step back to ride tiger

103-Turn body and swing over lotus (kick)

104-Bend the bow and shoot tiger

105-Deflect, parry, and punch

106-Appear to close entrance

107- Cross hands

108- Conclusion

So keep in mind that although it only counts 3 repulse monkeys that it is in fact 5 repetitions that are in the set (twice!) and the same is true for parting wild horse mane, there are 5 of those also.

Happy reading and I hope you can work out which is which!

Tai Chi Lineage

As you know Tai Chi is passed on from teacher to student and follows a lineage which enables you to trace back the roots of the style and form you practice.

The form we practice is:

-Yang style: which means that it relates to the Yang family lineage

-Large frame: which is wide and large in its movements

-Long form: the set comprises 108 moves which are known as long form (there are a lot of ways to count the moves so you may see them referred to as 88, 95, 103, these all essentially form the same set). There are other forms which are shorter such as  8 steps, 24 steps… There are also weapons forms!

As you may know our lineage has a Japanese background and my own teacher Rebecca Knowles studied Tai Chi from Grand master Fu Tamon Toyoki Nagao.

Here is the best lineage that myself and Rebecca have managed to put together:

     Yang Lu Chan                                                             Yang Lu Chan

     Yang Chien Hou          Cheng Ting Hua                  Yang Chien Hou

     Yang Cheng Fu           Zang Zhao-Dong                 Yang Chen Fu

     Fu Zhonwen                Wan Shu Jin              Zheng Ming(Yang Shou-Chung)

                                 Master Fu Tamon Toyoki Nagao

                                          Rebecca Knowles

                                             Helene Fleming

    As you can see two of master’s Fu Tamon Toyoki Nagao teachers where of the same lineage. You can look most of these masters up and you will find information on them.  However here are a few more bits of information which you may find useful.

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Yang Lu Chan

Yang Lu Chan was the 1st person of the the Yang family to learn tai chi from the Chen masters. Chen style is the oldest style of Tai Chi. It is different to Yang style in that it has changes in the pace and is seen often as more energetic. For a demonstration please ask me!

Yang Lu Chan passed on his knowledge to his sons (2nd generation) who passed it on to their own sons.

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Yang Chen Fu

Yang Cheng Fu is the 1st master to have widened the circle of his students, he is also the person who started to practice Tai Chi for health purposes and he slowed the pace down and made it even.

The middle lineage is a very interesting one as these masters also practised other internal arts such as Bagua Zhang and Xingyi Quan.

Upon returning to Japan master Fu Tamon Toyoki Nagao started a school of Tai Chi known as Naishindo, 内神道 meaning Inner Sacred Way. There are branches of this school throughout Japan.

What makes our lineage special is that it is pre-cultural revolution tai chi, it has not been systematised or simplified. It has been preserved to the best of everyone’s ability, and that should give you access to a genuine and powerful form of tai chi.

I hope you enjoyed this post if you have comments and question please as always post them.

Tai Chi practice

As you know, the more you practice Tai Chi, the more you get out of your practice. Remember there are a few simple ways to make sure that your practice happens everyday.

-Make sure you set aside a few minutes each day to practice your set. When you start out this will only take you a couple of minutes.

-Nothing special is needed just you and your tai chi! And that means that you can practice anytime, anywhere…

-This is time for you to connect with yourself.

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Remember if you practice the movements, they will become second nature and you will feel the benefits that much more quickly.

When you are starting out remember to also practise your stance, we will go over this in class and it is definitely worth taking a little time each day to remind ourselves.

For more advanced practitioners it may be time to introduce a couple of minutes meditation at the end of your practice. This will be the subject of another post or feel free to ask me in class.

As always please feel free to ask me questions or leave comments

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