I’ve been learning Tai Chi & Qigong for eight years now, so still a beginner in many ways. Two years ago our teacher invited members of the class to become instructors. It was widely understood that part of our learning was to pass on the Tai Chi form as “barefoot” teachers in the Chinese tradition. I’m now graded to instruct beginners.
The “form” we practise is a therapeutic version of the Yang style hand form or Yang style short form, originally taught to my teacher by Master Sam Lee, who was for many years a student of Chen Man Chi’ng. Momentum from one movement initiates the next in a moving meditation.
Body follows breath, & energy or Chi is directed to parts of the body, in relation to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), sensing the “energy body”. Awareness of the in & outbreath is vital to the practise. Movement in Tai Chi originates at the Lower Dantien, (Qihai) which corresponds to the Sacral Chakra. The Middle Dantien (Shangzhong) is at heart level. The Upper Dantien is located between the eyebrows (Yintang). The Central Meridian extends above the head & below the feet, linking Heaven & Earth.
Many students benefit purely from gentle movement & focus on breathing. Some are drawn to the meditative aspect. Others recognise the benefit of strengthening body, mind & inner body, bringing improved balance & peace.
Within the class are all ages & abilites. The youngest “player” is 9 years of age. Another at age 21 with vertigo, who has seen great improvement (& was my student as a beginner). Beneficial when facing many health challenges, including MS, asthma, high blood pressure, arthritis, stress, following treatment for cancer, loneliness, depression etc.
Our eldest player is 85 ~ an ex-marathon runner with a wicked sense of humour There is much laughter at the class, & then a beautiful energy-filled silence settles as we practise.
A number of courses have enhanced my Tai Chi, including Qigong. Simple to perform & requiring less space than Tai Chi form, Qigong is perhaps closest to my heart. There are many variations from 12-step Qigong, to 18-step & Ba Duan Jin (sometimes called Eight Brocades), all deeply healing & meditative.
I also completed a course entitled “Sensing Energy”. This consisted mostly of guided meditation & gave space for stillness in which to feel the movement of Chi, & aliveness of the inner body. On this course we learned a simple energy healing.
The best (& favourite) benefit of Tai Chi/Qigong is from outdoor practise, especially near trees or water if possible. Not recommended outdoors in extreme weather. I can describe the sensation of Chi as a breeze between my hands. Very beautiful.
Names of movements invoke further inspiration: Rainbow Dance, Cloud Hands, Flying Wild Goose, Looking at Moon, Pushing Wave. Oneness with nature is evident, sacred & immensely practical. Knowledge of the body’s meridians & energy channels is not strictly necessary but it can behelpful. One of our classmates is a Shiatsu practitioner who is consulted regularly.
I’ve been asked to instruct a new class of senior beginners in 2011. This could be a rich experience indeed. If you’re near a class, go along & watch to see if you’d like it ? There’s a great delight waiting for you.