My current tai chi teaching schedule can be found here:
Over the last few years, tai chi has become an important part of my life.
It’s something I recommend to a good proportion of my clients, and all my friends! It can make a big difference to your health, your stress levels and your sense of yourself, and all in a few minutes a day.
Everyone needs space and time to check in with themselves from time to time, and for me tai chi practice is often that time. I love its calming, centering effects, and the beautiful movements that tempt you back time and again to see if you can just find a little more flow, a little more depth…
I love it so much, I run classes locally and give private lessons – I’m keen to pass it on. Read on for more about tai chi, and how you can learn too, whatever your physical condition, and wherever you happen to be!
What is tai chi?
If you’ve visited China, you may have seen them – older people, alone and in groups, practising slow, flowing movements, rather like a complicated dance. It’s traditional to do tai chi out of doors if possible, by water or near trees, but in built up areas you may see groups in the open space of a shopping mall or just on a wide pavement.
Martial artists are also often tai chi players: people are sometimes surprised by this, but to train fast, explosive movements, you need to train slow and controlled movements, and tai chi is often a part of martial art development. Indeed, it is a martial art in itself.
However, most tai chi players – and there are millions of them worldwide – are doing it to develop and maintain their health, and because they love doing it.
Tai chi can be hard to learn
I had wanted to learn tai chi for as long as I can remember. The slow dance-like deliberation of it enchanted me. I tried at university, but kept getting cramp. Later I tried again, but it was always too difficult to remember the moves – I would learn a little bit in the class, but at home, I could never recall it well enough. In the end, the frustration would become too much, and I would give up.
Now, I teach it!
I did eventually find a way of learning that suited me. A friend in Australia told me about Dr Paul Lam, a family doctor and tai chi master. Dr Lam had created tai chi sets designed specially for people with arthritis, like my friend, and like my own mother.
With my mother in mind, I sent off for his teaching DVD, and fell in love with Tai Chi for Arthritis immediately! In his DVD, Dr Lam breaks the forms down into small, learnable segments, while keeping all their beauty and depth. It’s straightforward, if not necessarily easy, to learn, and you make steady satisfying progress. I learned originally for my mother, but I was soon practising for myself. I don’t have arthritis, or any of the conditions the sets are designed for, but I love doing the sets.
It’s quite a while later now, and my mother, my brother and I have all attended Dr Lam’s courses. I’ve been learning some of the long tai chi forms, and studying a little qigong. I’ve started teaching some Tai Chi for Health courses myself. It’s amazingly satisfying to share the pleasures of tai chi with other people. And when we’re all doing the forms together, there’s a wonderful, focused, peaceful atmosphere – until we start laughing, that is.
You can do tai chi too
But for all the people who can’t get here, here’s a link to Dr Lam’s website. On the site you can look for a class near you, or buy DVDs of the beautiful Tai Chi for Health sets (Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Diabetes, Back Pain and others), or find out more about tai chi from the wealth of information there.
And while we’re on the subject of Chinese ideas about energy and health, I’d like to recommend my friend and Chinese doctor, Dr Zhaolin Ding. I go to her for acupuncture treatments regularly, and I value enormously her skill and experience, her friendship, and her wonderful healing presence! Anyone living within reach of Leamington Spa and Kenilworth should check her out.