Category: Tai Chi Information

How Was Your World Tai Chi and Qigong Day?

World Tai Chi Day and Qigong Day is an annual worldwide event that occurs on the last Saturday in April. It is celebrated in over 100 cities and 80 nations where people come together to breathe together, providing a healing vision for our world — “one nation, one breath”. Starting at 10:00 a.m. local time (April 28 for the Eastern world) there is one mass demonstration of Tai Chi and Qigong. Picture it as a giant wave of energy: starting in Australia, throughout Asia, Africa and continuing to all the continents. Think of it as a giant wave of energy that continuously moves for 24 hours!

Most organized events consist of the mass demonstration at 10:00 a.m. followed by demonstrations of Tai Chi and Qigong forms by various schools. A few highlights from other countries and cities are below:

NYC-Central Park

Solvang, CA

Auckland, NZ

Elsinore, Denmark

Henderson, Nevada

In addition to demonstrations of various styles of Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong, our celebration included a display of healing modalities such as Shen Men ear seeds, creating personal mandalas, and printed information on the benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan.

No matter how you celebrated this event the goal was to share energy among colleagues in your immediate surroundings as well as around the world.

Long Beach NY-2017 World Tai Chi & Qigong Day

Shen Men Ear Seeds
Shen Men Ear Seeds
Demonstration
Demonstration

 

Tai Chi & Qigong in Long Beach
Tai Chi & Qigong in Long Beach
Sharing Energy
Sharing Energy

Welcome Spring Equinox!

I don’t know about you but winter always seems like it will never end in the U.S. northeast! We had a few warm teaser days with temperatures in the 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s only for it to drop back down to frigid teens and 20’s with snowstorms and Nor’easters looming.

March 20, 2017 at 6:29 a.m. marked the beginning of Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Equinox means the days and nights are approximately equal in relation to the amount of sunlight we receive.

According to the Chinese, the Spring Equinox has many connotations. With the transition from winter to spring many things happen to the body physically, spiritually and emotionally that one should be aware.

Spring is associated with the element of wood and the organs are the liver and gall bladder. Wood represents new growth, rebirth, and new beginnings such as you have with perennial plants that start to peek through the ground or buds showing on the trees. Their growth slowly emerges as the climate continues to warm. Birds start chirping and animals and insects that hibernated for the winter months awaken. Individuals should think of this as a time to reawaken the spirit with invigorating exercises and lighter meals. An individual’s emotions should cultivate flexibility and kindness and tone down anger and frustration.

The liver (Yin organ) is responsible for cleansing the blood circulating throughout the body. Spiritually it has the important job of directing Chi throughout the body and restoring peace and balance. So, it is important to take good care of your liver and eat foods that compliment its actions. The gall bladder (Yang organ) assists in the digestion of fats through the production of bile.

Mindful eating: Detoxify your liver by adding lemon to water and drinks, in salad dressings or it add directly onto foods. Concentrate on eating antioxidant rich foods such leafy greens – kale, collard greens, swiss chard, spinach as well as all varieties of lettuce. Foods in the spring should be sautéed, stir fried or grilled instead of baking or slow cooking like it is done in the winter months.

Spiritual practice: Practice qigong exercises that target the liver. Spring emphasizes the Tai Chi postures “split” or Lieh of the eight energies for the gall bladder or “retreat” of the Five Steps.

As we come out of the Yin winter months and into spring we should get out and enjoy nature and the surroundings. Focus your practice outdoors and absorb the many wonders of nature.

 

Wuji (Wu Chi) — Always

Wuji (or Wu Chi) is a classical Tai Chi posture known in most styles of Tai Chi Chuan. The literal translation means “nothing, nothingness, or empty” for Wu and “limits, end, extreme boundary” for “chi or ji (the “chi” is the same life force of “chi” but it has a different connotation). The two words used together mean emptiness in any movement, thought or activity; “nothing separates me from my surroundings” as our Sifu told us many times. Some people refer to Wuji as the quiet time before a form starts and after the form ends. It is the ultimate state of relaxation.     Standing in a meditative state of mind with the body properly aligned can help increase chi circulation and open up energy channels. Max Yan and Jude Smallwood say “Taiji comes from Wuji and returns to Wuji and is represented by the center circle within the large circle of the Tai Chi symbol. (see below).

Mark Sabin says “In movement Wuji flows, the unifying essence of Taiji. Throughout the set it continues, enduring and constant as changes course through the body. And in stillness again Wuji remains, the posture that lasts after all intention subsides utterly neutral and utterly present. Despite its seeming simplicity refining Wuji proves to be an evasive and difficult accomplishment.” Practicing Zhan Zhuang (“Standing Like a Tree” or “Standing Post”) incorporates the very essence of Wuji through body-mind connection while standing in a meditative posture.

Wuji Posture: Below is a detailed illustration of the physical aspects of the Tai Chi Wuji posture, coinciding with the classic principles of Tai Chi Chuan.

Head: Hold head erect as if suspended vertically from the baihui point (top of the crown); the neck is relaxed.
Shoulders, elbows and hands: Drop the shoulders and the elbows point downward, hands are relaxed at the sides, slightly engaged with some energy, making sure they aren’t limp; you should feel as if a balloon can be place under your arms without breaking it.
Chest: Open and slightly collapsed.

Knees and hips: Knees are slightly bent and pushed out; hips are relaxed, with the sensation of pushing downward into the floor with no tension; tailbone is tucked in.
Feet: Shoulder width apart.
Back: Spine should be vertical, with little of the “S” curve showing, holding no tension.
Waist: Soft and supple and able to move freely.
Tongue: Slightly touching the soft palate on the roof of your mouth.
Mind: Clear of any extraneous thoughts and staying in the moment, concentrate on sinking the breathing into the Tan Tien; eyes gaze straight ahead, not focusing on anything. Be aware of any tension or discomfort in parts of your body. Acknowledge it and make small adjustments to improve the comfort of the posture.
Breathing: Take long, slow breaths and concentrate on breathing through the Tan Tien in the lower abdomen. Think of the breath as “slow, long, even, narrow, and deep” ; count your breaths to keep your mind focused on your breathing. The deep breathing will aid in relaxation.

The principles of Wuji are applied when practicing Zhan Zhuang, as is shown in the “Hugging the Tree” posture.

The Wuji posture is an important foundation of your Tai Chi practice. Adding standing meditation 10-20 minutes a day will not only enhance your rooting in Tai Chi forms, but also increase chi flow in the body. Contemplating a Wuji posture during your busy life can also help you relax your mind and body.

 

What-Basics Again?

“Groan, not a class on basics again? I want to work on forms!” thought the brown sash student.

This may be a familiar thought to some students in any martial arts class. I am guilty myself – as I went up in rank all I thought  was important was to do our lovely open hand and weapons forms. That is only part of the picture. Working on basics is just as important as working on forms along with two person training like push hands and applications.

Little did I realize at the time that basic postures are the foundation of all Tai Chi forms and they need to be reviewed constantly by an instructor. Basic postures, basic stances, basic movements are like second nature to the advanced student but for a beginner and intermediate student they are still learning. And guess who they watch when they can’t see the teacher? You, the advanced student! That’s why your basics have to be impeccably executed!

In your private practice take inventory of each posture, keeping the Ten Essential Points of Tai Chi in mind:

  • Where are my feet? Is my back heel pushed out in a forward stance?
  • Is my weight distributed correctly?
  • Am I rooted to the ground? Am I “light on top and heavy on the bottom?”
  • Is my head held up high?
  • Are my shoulders relaxed and tailbone tucked in?

These questions and more should be going through your mind as you do Part the Wild Horses Mane, White Crane Spreads Its Wings, Brush Knee and Push, and the list goes on.

So the next time your Sifu starts running through basic postures and forms, embrace the opportunity to not only help yourself but also your classmates improve their forms.

 

Forward Stance

  • Head and torso held high
  • 60/40% distribution with most weight on the front leg
  • Your front knee is bent; you should be able to see your toes
  • Hips are squared forward
  • Shoulders are relaxed, chest is slightly concaved (hollowed)

Tai Chi forward stance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back Stance

  • Head and torso held high
  • 60/40% distribution with most on the back leg
  • Hips are squared forward
  • Shoulders are relaxed, chest is slightly concaved (hollowed)

Tai Chi back stance