HOW CAN I RELAX

Recently one of my friends came up to me holding a Groupon ad. She said “can you believe they have floating tanks for relaxation“. She showed me the advertisement which was a photo of a tank that looked like a horizontal capsule. The tank was large enough for one person, filled with saltwater and temperature controlled. It seemed like the perfect atmosphere for relaxation. At first I was like wow, another gimmick but after some thought this really sparked some ideas for me with regard to Tai Chi practice.

Float

Float

To really reap all the health benefits of Tai Chi you have to be completely relaxed. Your attention should be simultaneously all around you top, bottom, sides, front and back. You must maintain proper posture, alignment, coordinated breathing and also be rooted into the earth. This is something we all strive for when we practicing our forms but how can you teach someone this feeling who hasn’t spent several years practicing Tai Chi?

My Tai Chi teachers through the years all have said to me “relax” and I tell the same thing to my students. What does it mean to relax? What is the feeling? I think it is hard to put this into words. We are all different and have all traveled so many different paths in our lives so the word relax can be interpreted in many different ways.

For the most part almost everyone has tried to float on their back or front in a pool of water. If you haven’t then it should be something you might want to try especially if you want to experience the feeling I am talking about. I think it is a must for anyone serious about Tai Chi. I believe for Tai Chi to bring us all the health benefits it is capable of we have to be a conduit for unrestricted chi flow.

How to Float

  1. Find a safe place to float. If you’re a new swimmer, it’s a good idea to have a friend who knows how to swim nearby.
  2. Remain relaxed while you’re learning to float. Tense muscles may cause your body to be less buoyant, and shallow breathing means less air in your lungs. The air in your lungs acts like a flotation device for your chest.
  3. Walk into a shallow area of the water and kneel down so the water is about waist deep.
  4. Stretch your arms out in front of you, fill your lungs with air, tuck your head down and push off with your feet until you’re in a prone position in the water. Slowly bring your arms together over your head until you’re in a streamlined position. Don’t kick or perform any swimming strokes.
  5. Remain in this prone, streamlined position for about 5 seconds and then stand up. Repeat this in the shallow water, until you’ve mastered the technique.
  6. Go out into waist-deep water. Continue to practice floating, eventually working your way out into chest-deep water.

Reference: How to float www.ehow.com

 


 

THE PROFESSORS: TAI CHI’S JOURNEY WEST

I wanted to share this Tai Chi project that I have found on kickstarter. It is a documentary about the great Tai Chi master, Cheng Man-Ching, who brought his profound teachings West in the swinging, turbulent 60s.

I myself have been practicing Tai Chi daily for the past 20 years, I am looking forward to seeing the documentary and hope that Barry Strugatz gets the funding necessary to complete this project.

Cheng Man Ching

Cheng Man Ching

Click Here to learn more about the project.

“It is about time this wonderful teacher’s journey West was documented.”  Tony Visconti – Musician, Producer, Tai Chi Practitioner

Learn more about the film by visiting tai-chifilm.

What is Tai Chi? Tai Chi is a centuries old Chinese exercise/martial art and spiritual practice. Tai Chi Chuan is called the “supreme ultimate fist” martial art. It is much more than a fighting system. Tai Chi is also an exercise and health regimen that improves balance, strength and well being. Tai Chi is also known as a powerful spiritual practice. It is a physical expression of Taoism and Confucianism.

 


 

LOU REED TAI CHI

Lou Reed Tai Chi

Lou Reed and Master Ren Tai Chi

I remembered hearing quite a few years ago that Lou Reed was a practitioner of Tai Chi. Unfortunately I didn’t search online to learn more until after his recent passing. I found a video on YouTube that showed Lou Reed playing guitar while his Tai Chi teacher Master Ren performed a Chen style Tai Chi form.

I found this video particularly interesting because two of my favorite hobbies are playing guitar and practicing Yang and Chen style Tai Chi. In this video the music and Tai Chi form seemed to flow together very nicely. I think the reason is because Lou Reed is himself a Tai Chi practitioner and he has a deep understanding of the Tai Chi form. Unfortunately the video of Lou Reed playing guitar while Master Ren performs Tai Chi has been removed.

 

 


 

TAI CHI OUTDOORS

Today as usual on a 15 minute break from work I was practicing Tai Chi Outdoors in a hidden parking lot adjacent to the building where I work. On any given day there are quite a few workers going about there daily routines at the office buildings surrounding the parking lot. Every so often I can peripherally see someone staring over, possibly wondering what I am doing.

Tai Chi Outside

Tai Chi Outdoors

Today was a little different, about three quarters of the way through my form on this sunny day in October a man suddenly drove right up next to me, his car windows were rolled down. He said through his passenger window “Excuse me, I hate to bother your concentration but can you tell me where the parking lot entrance to the building next door is?” Without so much of slight break in my form I answered and he drove away. Finishing up my form I thought that was one of the strangest things that ever happened while practicing Tai Chi Outdoors.

When my sons were little they knew not to interrupt me during my Tai Chi practice unless it was something really important. Obviously this guy’s father didn’t practice Tai Chi!

Do you have any funny situations that occurred while practicing Tai Chi outdoors? If so, comment below I would love to hear them.

 


 

MAN OF TAI CHI

So, I recently saw the movie Man of Tai Chi which was directed by Keanu Reeves. The movie Starred Keanu’s teacher Tiger Hu Chen. I was highly anticipating the theatrical release of Man of Tai Chi for quite a while. When I first heard Keanu Reeves was directing a movie called Man of Tai Chi it was at least a year before it was released in U.S. theaters.

Man of Tai Chi

Man of Tai Chi

There are many people who aren’t familiar with the art of Tai Chi so I was hoping that a major motion picture of this caliber would get a lot of public notice.

I was disappointed with the story line and the character casting. This movie fell short of my high expectations. I may watch it again if I have the chance just to give it a second chance.

Comment below and let us know what you thought.

 


 

BENEFITS OF TAI CHI OUTSIDE

Tai Chi at work breakOne of the Tai Chi teachers at World Tai Chi & Chi Kung Day 2013 was talking about aligning the Bai Hui point, Hui Yin point and as we shift to each leg align both Bai Hui and Hui-Yin points with the Yong Quan. Since the weather was so beautiful out today I went out for a 15-minute break to Practice my Yang Tai Chi form. I started out with the intent on keeping these 3 points aligned throughout my form. I was focusing on keeping relaxed while keeping these points aligned so the chi could pass through my body.

As I was practicing I was making sure to release the chi at the end of the posture and then again as I breathed out and completely relaxed. I repeat the process over and over until I am finished with the form. I am also paying attention that my arms never move on their own. My breath comes in through the Yong Quan(bubbling well) which fills the dantien and instantly presses against my weighted foot. My arms and body movements are generated by this pressure that moves up and through my body.

 


 

TAI CHI ON LONG ISLAND – WORLD TAI CHI DAY 2013

world taichi & chi kung day“On the last Saturday of April each year at 10 am, tens of thousands in hundreds of cities, in over 70 nations come together… to breathe together… to provide a healing vision for our world. Be a part of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day 2013 on Long Island. Help spread the word!”

Shorefront Park in Patchogue Long Island is one of the many locations around the world to hold this tai chi and chi kung event. It will be from 9 am to 12 pm Saturday April 27th. This is a good chance for you to see a few of Suffolk County’s Tai Chi teachers demonstrating forms and teaching workshops. Come down and participate and see if Tai Chi is something you might enjoy.

World Tai Chi & Chi Kung Day

It is usually cold and windy this time of year so bring a sweatshirt if you are planning to attend.

 


 

BEST TIME TO PRACTICE TAI CHI

I have read in many books to get the best health benefit from Tai Chi practice at sunrise and sunset.  This really makes the most sense to me for many reasons. One reason is that you begin and end your day with some healthy form of moving meditation exercise. Another reason might be that your doing such a beneficial mind body exercise at the same time the day is exchanging its energy from day to night and vice versa.  For the most part I practice Tai Chi and Chi Kung everyday but it is usually whenever I can fit it into my schedule. I have never adhered to a strict schedule regarding the time of day I practice my Tai Chi forms.Best Time to Practice Tai Chi

MoonI have recently started learning and have been practicing the Chen style 56 competition form at night outside in my backyard. For some reason it is usually around 11 pm. I let my German shepherd dog out and he is usually running circles around me while I practice. He is constantly trying to get my attention by bringing me sticks. Don’t worry I am not ignoring him, I make sure to play with him beforehand, he gets plenty of exercise every day.

It is cold in New York this time of year, I am not a big fan of cold weather. When I go outside at night to practice Tai Chi I bundle up with a hat, gloves, scarf and a heavy coat. My face might be cold but I don’t feel it anywhere else.

The reason I decided to do my Tai Chi form outside is I need quite a bit of space to practice the Chen 56 competition form. Practicing outside gives me plenty of space. For me, not having to stop during the form and move to fit into the room I am practicing in is a big plus. While I am on the grass the ground has its ups and downs so I have to be in my center otherwise I am off balance. I seem to like it best on a clear night when I walk outside and look up and the sky is lit by either a bright moon and a multitude of stars. I have a long playlist of Asian music on my iPhone so that puts me in a great state of mind for Tai Chi practice. I rarely practice Tai Chi without music playing.

I am more of a warm weather person but have been really enjoying the feeling of practicing outside at night in the cold. Who knows maybe I will start looking forward to the winters in New York.

The best time of day to practice Tai Chi is whatever works best for you!

Do you have a favorite time and place to practice?

 

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THE MANY LAYERS OF TAI CHI


“Every tree and plant in the meadow seemed to be dancing, those which average eyes would see as fixed and still.” – Jalal ad-Din Rumi


 

How many times do you may hear Tai Chi referred to as like an onion because of its many layers? It is an art that you can spend a lifetime studying, but never learn everything it has to offer.

The other day I was working with some students who were having some balance issues and I was saying that if you watch a time-lapse video of a flower blooming you can see that the center moves very minimally and the petals open from the center of the flower. A common mistake is for someone to have all their energy rise up to the top, causing them to become off balance.

I was looking on YouTube for a good example and found quite a few. The best videos I found that would best mimic the way to practice the Tai Chi form would be ones where you can see the whole plant root and all.

 

 

When you watch the plant grow in this video you can see that the root is moving downward while the stem aligns itself and the leaves are reaching upward towards the sun. Due to the sped up motion of this video you can clearly see that the plant expands in all directions at the same time. Pick a point on the stem and take notice, once it reaches a certain point it no longer moves upwards, it expands in all directions.

In the Yang Tai Chi form there is a clear martial application for each posture but there has to be expansion and awareness in all directions at the same time. If this can be attained then the chi can flow through the body unimpeded and the true health benefits of Tai Chi can be revealed.

 


 

TAI CHI ON THIN ICE

One of the many ways I practice my Tai Chi form is to imagine I am stepping on thin ice. If my weight comes from the top down I will break the ice and fall through.

Tai Chi on Thin Ice

Tai Chi on Thin Ice

When I step, I step gently and fill from the bottom up. As I breathe in the Chi flows up through my feet, up through the bubbling well (located behind the ball of my foot) continuing up my legs and then fills my Dantian which is located two inches below the navel. The chi then overflows the Dantian and passes through my upper torso, palms, head and out into infinity.

As I breathe out and relax, new chi flows from above down through my body, through my legs and out through my feet down through the imaginary ice and is absorbed slowly into the icy waters below. I repeat this process throughout until my Tai Chi form is complete.