Monday, December 21, 2009

Does Sleep Elude You?

Often when we are stressed or just can't stop thinking about things, it's difficult to get to sleep. Or sometimes when we wake in the middle of the night we experience the same.
Here's some good news from AARP how Tai Chi has been shown in this study to help with sleep problems.

Staying Sharp - Tai Chi and Sleep
A Simple Routine may help
: Phil Scott | Source: NRTA Live & Learn | THURSDAY, October 9, 2008

"WHEN YOU THINK OF USING MARTIAL ARTS, it’s usually to wreak havoc among the muscular and the dim-witted—and perhaps any random masked Ninjas out causing trouble. But a new study shows that one particular martial art can also help improve your sleep. Dr. Michael Irwin, the Norman Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, studied a group of 112 healthy, older adults between the ages of 59 and 86, randomly assigning them to two groups. One practiced 20 tai chi moves for 25 weeks, and one took classes in healthy lifestyles, including sleep hygiene, for the same period of time. At the end of the study, published in the scientific journal Sleep in July 2008, the class that performed tai chi reported a significant improvement in the quality of their sleep on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a self-rated questionnaire."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tai Chi Can Reduce Knee Pain, Research Concludes

December 14, 2009 by Personal Liberty News Desk

A new study, conducted by researchers from Tufts University, has found that patients over 65 years of age with knee osteoarthritis (OA) can improve their physical function and experience pain relief through regular tai chi exercise.

The study, published in the November issue of Arthritis Care and Research, followed 40 patients over a 12-week period with confirmed knee OA who were in otherwise good health.

Researchers split the participants into two sections; the study group was asked to participate in 60 minute Yang style tai chi sessions twice weekly, while the control group attended standard physical therapy and education classes.

At the end of the 12 weeks, patients practicing tai chi reported a significant decrease in knee pain compared to those who went through ordinary knee therapy.

"Our observations emphasize a need to further evaluate the biologic mechanisms and approaches of tai chi to extend its benefits to a broader population," concluded Chenchen Wang, author of the study.

The Mayo Clinic reports that tai chi can reduce anxiety and depression, improve balance, flexibility and muscle strength as well as lower blood pressure.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Can it be that simple? Just getting more oxygen helps the immune system.

From Turning Point, a blog by: Gregory E. LeBlanc, Berkeley, California, United States
Article By Channel NewsAsia's China Correspondent Glenda Chong | Posted: 12 October 2009

SHANGHAI: The stress of modern living had prompted many around the world to learn qigong. Recent joint studies from China and the United States also show that qigong can help cancer patients live longer.

One community club in Shanghai is practicing a form of qigong that has helped members recover from life-threatening illnesses over the past 20 years.

Cancer survivor Qiu Jia Ming, 65, who suffered from pancreatic cancer years ago, said: "I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when I was 50 years old and the doctor told me I only had three months to live. But I've survived 14 years now."

Another cancer survivor, Yin Xiao Ling, suffered from nasal malignant granulomatosis 22 years ago.

"I'm 57 and have been practising qigong for 22 years. I was diagnosed with nasal malignant granulomatosis, a very rare cancer, and doctors said I only had six months to a year to live at the most.

"So when I was discharged from hospital, I didn't go home. I went to join the Guolin Qigong Club. Doctors said it was a miracle that I survived beyond a year," said Yin.

Even the head of the cancer rehabilitation club is convinced of the benefits of qigong against cancer. Yuan Zheng Ping was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma 28 years ago and after studying Guolin qigong in Beijing, he started the Shanghai Cancer Rehabilitation Club in 1989 to teach others like him.

"It's not only a physical exercise, it is also a psychological practice of breathing using rhythmic exercises, thereby taking in a lot of oxygen. This is beneficial because it increases immunity and help fight the cancer.

"We did a survey in 1993 with 1,500 cancer patients and discovered that after five years of practising Goulin qigong, there was about 85 per cent recovery rate. In 2003, we did another comprehensive study and found that out of 7,000 cancer sufferers, more than 60 per cent of them survived for more than five years," said Yuan.

With such high success rate, there is now more attention paid to this form of exercise. Initial results from studies conducted by the University of Illinois and Shanghai University of Sports show that practising Cailin qigong can help cancer patients live longer and give them a better quality of life.

Wang Changwei is the researcher behind a new study program sponsored by the US-based National Cancer Institute. Her first phase of research centred on those who regularly practice qigong and it showed that this group of practitioners have a lower rate of cancer recurrence than others.

She said: "From our current study, regardless of quality of life, exercise ability or health conditions, those who practised Guolin qigong are far better off than those who don't exercise qigong.

"We did an 11-month observation and found that oxygen intake of those who practise Guolin qigong was higher and when they are at rest, the oxygen level is the same. This means that they inhale more oxygen during their practice. Their breathing method of inhaling twice and exhaling once helped to improve their oxygen intake."

Even doctors who specialise in Western medicine believe there are benefits to practising qigong. But they said there may be other causes that are helping cancer patients recover from their illnesses.

Gao Yong, a doctor at Shanghai East Hospital, said: "Qigong can help patients forget the pain of the disease. Also, the exercise is a team activity. Practitioners encourage and support each other. There is more confidence when they see others recover. I think this is the real benefit of qigong.

"The study has only just started about two or three years ago. A large scale study is needed and should take about three to five years, or even longer, for a more detailed observation of the benefits."

China sees about 2.2 million cancer cases yearly, with one in five dying from the disease.

Tai Chi and your Brain

Why is Tai Chi also a meditation? By focusing on each move, slowly and not thinking about anything else except that move, the mind begins to move to a different state or wavelength.

The restorative power of brain activity in the states altered by meditation has been widely studied.

Meditation is better for relaxing and has less harmful side effects than taking drugs for example and is thought to create a healing state.

Why moving meditation is better? You get triple the benefits: a physical workout, mental relaxation and improvement in the chi flow. The combination of the body and mind working in harmony is the essence of why Tai Chi works.

By Linda Tenenbaum

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is Qi?

I found this article a while back and sorry that I can't find the author, but it is a very good concise explanation of Qi: what it is and how it works.

According to traditional Chinese thought the health of the body is dependent on the strength and the flow of Qi (Vital Energy).

Each human and animal is born with a fixed amount of Jing (Vital Essence) at birth. Jing is spent in the work of living. The Jing is supported and expressed by the movement of Qi throughout the body via a system of channels (also called meridians). Qi is replenished by food and air (oxygen). These channels flow on the surface of the body and also deep within the body connecting all organs and tissues in a vast network. Disease can arise when there is an imbalance or disruption in the flow of Qi through these channels.

Certain areas along the channels that travel the surface of the body provide access to the Qi and allow a trained acupuncturist and tui-na practitioner to affect the flow and quality of Qi in the body. These areas are the acupuncture points. Modern research has shown that these specific points have a higher density of nerve endings, immune-cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels than the surrounding tissue. By stimulating these points, sometimes located far from the site of symptoms, the acupuncturist and tui-na practitioner can assist the body's innate ability to heal itself by balancing it's Qi. This balancing is now known to be mediated primarily via beta-endorphins (the body's own pain-relief factor), serotonin (associated with mood), and similar neurotransmitters. Other mechanisms including hormonal factors that reduce inflammation are also involved. The acupuncture or tui-na massage stimulation adjusts blood circulation, relieves muscle spasm, alters hormone levels and the function of organs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Build up your immunity NOW!

Follow Me Tai Chi & Qigong - Easy to do, no memorization, may be done standing or seated.
Tuesday evenings 7- 8:15pm
4 Class Session December 1 - 22
(Break for the Holidays and resuming January 5th)

Beaches location

Limited to 5 participants for more personal attention

Call 416 728 2466 to book your spot.
$60 per 4 class session

Friday, July 31, 2009

Why I started studying tai chi 27 Years ago

By Linda Tenenbaum
I loved to dance. I still do. I was attracted to Tai Chi because of it's dancelike movements. So when I started studying it at a local community centre, I fell in love with the gentle circular movements and internal rhythms. I also adored watching my beautiful sifu Valerie Huston, perform and teach us in her elegant way. I admired the athleticism of my teacher Marc Tasse, and tried to make my moves look like his.
It wasn't until many years later, that I actually learned how to do it properly and why it was a self healing internal art.
At first glance it seems to be all arms and hand movements - A sort of slowed down martial arts movie, but later after many years of participating, listening and observing, I now understand how it is all about the core of the body moving, massaging, advancing, retreating and a lot less about the 'prettiness' of the moves.
Still the love of the movement was what kept me interested all these years, and for that I am grateful.
I remember one wet Sunday in the winter when we retreated from our outdoor class, to our teacher's rec room to watch movies of some old tai chi masters, including his father and his teacher from Hong Kong.
I remember being confused as to why they moved so little, so inconspicuously that I really didn't 'get' it.
Our teacher David Lau kept telling us that Tai Chi is an internal art, yet with external moves. and still I couldn't let go of the external perception which was my own benchmark.
One broken leg later, I was forced to turn my practice inward and found the deeper movements of tai chi. Did I really need to break my leg to find this out? Maybe.
I now look at Tai Chi in a totally different way. I work at my moves from the inside, I align myself without physical strength, although the strength is there.
I now understand a bit more of the many pearls of wisdom that I heard but did not understand at the time.
This is why I tell my students, it doesn't matter how beautiful it looks, it's more important how it feels.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Qigong & Tai Chi can keep you young!

What keeps us young? Hormones. We humans have both estrogens and testosterone in different ratios depending on our sex.

As we ladies get older, we lose an important source of our estrogen - the ovaries. However there are other sources of estrogen in the body which float around in the blood in the form of estradiol. Usually it is formed from fat cells and in the brain, sometimes it is not enough to balance the system as much as the way the ovaries did. BUT there have been studies that have shown that doing Qigong can raise or maintain the estradiol levels to a normal that keeps away symptoms of menopause.

Loss of estrogen can also affect the bones, and new studies are showing that Tai Chi can help keep the bone density healthy as well as help coordination and balance as we age.

For the gentlemen: As they age their levels of testosterone decrease naturally and the resulting ratio of estrogens:testosterone increases causes symptoms too. The study showed that men in the Qigong study had a reduction of the estradiols and thus improving the ratio to near normal again.

If you are interested in reading about the study go here:
It revealed that sex hormone levels may be balanced by the practice of Tai Chi & Qigong exercises:
“…female sex hormone (estrogen) levels tend to increase in men and decrease in women as aging occurs. Three studies indicate that tai chi & qigong exercise can reverse this trend. Estradiol levels were measured before and after qigong practice for one year…” Results showed that high estrodiol levels in men lowered to near normal, and low estrodiol levels in women raised to near normal after qigong practice.

These hormones keep our skin younger, keep our libido healthy and affect many systems in a positive way without the use of HRT. HRT (hormone replacement therapy) had been found to be very effective but greatly increased the risk for breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots, so is recommended by doctors less now.

So if you want to maintain your youthfulness as you get older. Find a class, teacher and learn how to do some simple Qigong exercises and keep your youth!

Much of the research upon which the author based this article is derived from a lengthy article by Kenneth Sancier Ph.d
from part d. Improvement in sex hormone levels in his article "Anti Aging Benefits of Qigong" published by The Qigong Institute.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Read my colleague Stan's blog Chi For Living - Searching for the Perfect Position for a very good recommendation for those beginning Tai Chi or other mind/body workouts.

I reinforce this idea with my students, & ask them not to copy me, but rather guide them with how it should feel to them.

Everyone has a different body structure, way of moving, mindset, personality. So why should we all look the same, especially when doing Tai Chi or Yoga?

Of course there are guidelines, but perhaps this style of movement is best learned from the inside out. Feeling the move rather than just imitating the teacher.

It reminds me of one time when I was teaching an aquafitness class and needed to scratch my ear.
Almost everyone in the class copied my move, since they were so tuned in to copying the exercises.

In this respect, when teaching, I try not to focus too much on the technical aspects of a move at first, but rather I start with verbal cues such as:
"move your hands as if they were resting on a balloon floating up" or "bounce a basketball in front of you in slow motion" etc. Imagery is very powerful and helps a participant to use their own experiences to move properly.

Another helpful tip is if someone has difficulty in coordinating the arms and feet moves at the same time, they can be learned separately with a positive effect. In fact they may get 'soong'(Chinese for relaxed with soft structure) much faster and get the benefits from the class that much faster. Too much input creates tension both physical, and mental, and thus decreases the energetic flow as well.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Can we eliminate stress?

Can we eliminate stress? No, but we can minimize the effects that stress has on our systems.

Our bodies are not just mechanical devices. The mind is highly connected to all our body’s functions. When we are stressed, we produce hormones that affect our heart rate, blood pressure, respiration etc. These hormones are useful in the short term; they give a boost to our breathing, allowing faster circulation, delivering more oxygen to our muscles so that we may escape from danger!
Long term sustained stress (causing these emergency hormones to be produced full time) can not only make you feel bad, it can weaken your immune and other body systems and cause you to be vulnerable to many diseases. One answer is to try to de-stress often to lessen the negative effects by using modalities such as Tai Chi & Qigong.

Other Benefits may include:
A drug free, deeper restorative sleep
Some pain relief with your body's own natural endorphins
Improvements in your balance, flexibility, strength, and joint mobility
An increase in immune cell response
Regulation of blood pressure
Improvement in bone density
Improvement in Respiration and Whole Body Relaxation
Better focus and ability to concentrate

Why I’m doing this:

I have studied classical Tai Chi & Qigong for the past 25 years.
I wish everyone had the time, place and wonderful teachers to
learn what I have.

The reality is; most people don’t.

By simplifying the Essential Elements and Principles;
I have created an EASY to follow program that will give the benefits of doing Tai Chi and Qigong without the difficult footwork or the need to memorize.

Having a busy schedule won’t put you behind if you miss a class. Since we are not learning a sequence, every class is stand alone. In addition each student will receive a home study book for practice.

Come try it out!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's Different about Follow Me Tai Chi?

Follow Me Tai Chi
This NO MEMORIZATION class will feature postures, breathing and meditation.
If you have never tried Tai Chi or you have tried the traditional way of learning and found it unsuccesful you will love this class.

Class structure:
A. Chi (energy) boosting Qigong warm up for 15 minutes.
B. Tai Chi forms for 30 minutes - in the style of a yoga class ( i.e. not linked together in a sequence). If you miss a class you will not be disadvantaged as you would in a traditional style class.
C. 10 minute meditation.
D. 5 minutes self massage.
You will leave feeling relaxed, refreshed and positive.
Call me or email me for class locations.