Health Benefits of Tai Chi and Chi Kung/Qi Gong

Tai Chi – The Art of Living  –

  • Posture
  • Breathing
  • Mindfulness

DAVID HANKEY has been practicing Qi Gong,  Aikido and Zen meditation for more than 30 years. He has been practicing Tai Chi for more than 25 years and has been teaching for more than 25 years. David has taught in Ireland as well as China. He also received private instruction in Qi Gong from his teacher Prof. Wu Tian Cheng. David is a student of Wudang Europa with Taoist Master Tian Liyang. In addition, David is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Shiatsu and Tuina.

Classes:
Tuesdays 6 – 7.30 pm.

Classes are in 8 week terms.

Cost; €80 payable in 1 or 2 blocks.

Single class; €15

Starting Tuesday 3rd September 2019 in The Teaching Rooms, 6 Sidney Place, Wellington Road,Cork.
Tel : 087 2744 735 for details of classes
Facebook: Tai Chi Cork David Hankey

Classes will consist of:

  • Wudang Taoist Tai Chi 64 Postures – as practiced by Taoists in the Wudang Mountains
  • Wild Goose Qi Gong 64 Postures moving style
  • 18 Postures Tai Chi Qi Gonq/Shibashi
  • Ba Duan Jin/8 Pieces of Brocade.
  • Zhan Zhuang – Standing Postures/13 Pillars of Taoist Qi Gong
  • Push Hands – 2 person forms
  • Taoist and Zen meditation

Classes will be limited to 9 people.

With Master Tian Liyang

Wudang Internal Arts

The Wudang Mountains in Hubei, China, are the location of many Taoist monasteries and temples. Taoism focuses on the spiritual aspect of being. The objective of people on the Taoist path is living a long and meaningful life by living in harmony with nature. Tao is a term for the natural order of the universe. The practice leads the practitioner to experience their own vital rhythms, thus gaining mental serenity and improved physical energy. Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Bagua (8 changes) and Taoist Internal Meditation are known as Wudang Internal Arts. This can be symbolised as a circle which has no beginning and no end. The aim of the practitioner is to find the still spot within the circle.

Balance

Ancient Taoists mastered techniques to balance the body’s energy (Qi) in order to live in harmony with the environmental (Earthly) Qi as well as the universal (Heavenly) Qi. While the concept of Qi may seem complicated, it is actually very simple. Matter progresses to energy and energy to spirit. Qi is the medium, or bridge, between matter and spirit. Once we become aware of the reality of Qi, it becomes easily recognised.

Tai Chi and the Tao

Putting the philosophy of Tai Chi into action can bring us greater health and happiness. Tai Chi is a practice of “The Way.” Way means of The Tao and signifies a path or river. Taoism is not a religion. It is a “Way” of life. The Tao is the natural order of things. It is a force that flows through every living and sentient object, as well as through the entire universe. When the Tao is in balance it is possible to find perfect happiness. Taoism is a philosophy, and the practice of Tai Chi means putting this philosophy in to action.

Tao/path

Although the word “path” can signify a destination, actually we have already arrived, and the daily practice of Tai Chi can help us realise this. As Lao Tzu said; A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. To find/realise the Way is a very complicated task, so the ancient Taoists employed strategy to get us there. As a beginner, Tai Chi is practiced to relax the mind and body. This is literally to relax tension and align, co-ordinate and condition the body; and, on a more mental level, to deal with boredom and impatience. This level is more about the physical act of respiration and relaxing and softening the muscles and tendons, as well as learning to recognise the energy or “Qi” contained in the air we breathe. On a literal level, Qi is the oxygen in the air and the nutrition in the food we eat. The next level is to learn Qi Gong, which is concerned with taking this Qi which we have become aware of and increasing its potential and learning to move it throughout the body.

Taoist Qi Gong/Chi Kung

Qi Gong is a traditional system of health exercises where the practitioner focuses on three things – posture, breathing and calming the mind. So we could say that Qi Gong explores the mind-body relationship. Qi means “life-force energy” and Gong means “skill”, so Qi Gong is the skilled practice of gathering, circulating, and applying life-force energy. “Wild Goose” Qi Gong is a set of 64 movements based on these principles. The result of practicing this is improved well-being, better health and alleviation of diseases. The practice consists of both vigorous and gentle movements in which action alternates with stillness with perfect ease. So long as you do this type of Qi Gong regularly and without fail, you will find your health improved and disease alleviated.

Taoist Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient system of physical exercise that promotes total health: emotional, mental and spiritual. Unlike exercises that use exertion and force to build muscular strength, a strength that inevitably deteriorates with age, the gentle and flowing, yet rigorous, movements of Tai Chi focus on relaxing and straightening the body. This enhances coordination and circulation and balances all bodily functions. Originated in ancient China by Zhang Sanfeng, Tai Chi is a graceful form of exercise/movement that is practiced primarily for its health benefits, which include relief from stress and anxiety. Emphasizing total relaxation, Tai Chi can be perceived as a type of meditation, and in fact it has been referred to as “meditation in motion”. Its movements, which are gentle, flowing and slow, draw on internal energy rather than physical strength. Through repeating these specific motions, the individual aims to harmonize mind and body. Wudang Tai Chi is a 64 posture form developed by the monks in the Wudang Mountains and is based on the original form of Zhang Sanfeng.

When there is no more separation between this and that, it is called the still point of The Tao. At the still point at the centre of the circle, one can see the infinite in all things. Chuang Tzu

What are its benefits?

After some practice, students will find their Qi or internal energy flowing and will begin to feel more relaxed. On the other hand, if pain or stiffness is experienced in certain areas the Qi is blocked, and further practice will remove this blockage.

Who can practice Tai Chi?

Patience is needed to start with, and perseverance to carry your practice through the many stages of development. The practice takes time, so you need to give it time. It takes about a year to learn the full Tai Chi form, on the basis of one class a week and practicing every day for about 15 minutes. As Tai Chi embraces many aspects of movement and stillness, it can be practiced by any age group. Consistent daily practice promotes relaxation, concentration and increased vitality due to improved circulatory and respiratory functions.

Classes, which typically last 60-90 minutes, begin with a series of breathing exercises and move on to slow and precise body movements or “forms” that may take up to twenty minutes to perform.

Breathing

Breath is the link between mind and body, so these breathing exercises explore the mind-body link. Students typically wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes and flat shoes or socks. Some may even prefer to go barefoot. Each form (body movement) can include as many as 100 positions that are carried out in one continuous fluid movement from start to finish. Because the basic movements are deceptively simple in appearance, some beginners initially may find them boring. Nonetheless, experienced Tai Chi practitioners will agree that even the basic movements can be challenging and mastering them may take a lifetime. To get the most out of the instruction, students are encouraged to practice the forms for a set amount of time each day. As a general rule, early is better than late. In China, for example, large groups often carry out Tai Chi exercises as part of an early morning routine.

Outdoor class in Fitzgerald Park

Is Tai Chi suitable for everyone?

Because it can be performed almost anywhere and because timing and awareness are more important than athletic ability, Tai Chi appeals to both young and old, male and female. Almost anyone can undertake it. People do not have to be in top health to start practicing Tai Chi. Low-intensity by nature and not physically demanding for beginners, Tai Chi is well suited for the elderly and those experiencing post-operative or post-traumatic stress. Another appealing facet of Tai Chi is that it does not require special clothing or equipment. The bare minimum is a few square feet of space, whether in a sunny park or a small living room. Individuals are encouraged to proceed at their own pace of learning and no ranks or belts are awarded. This highly convenient aspect of Tai Chi has contributed to it becoming one of the world’s most widely practiced forms of exercise.

Is Tai Chi safe?

With its gentle emphasis on relaxation, breath awareness and graceful movement, Tai Chi is a safe and effective form of health-promoting exercise. The self-pacing aspects of Tai Chi enable individuals to set their own limits; consequently, a young athletic person may be inclined to flex his or her knees deeply whereas an elderly individual may only decide to complete only a fraction of the same movement.

Sunday morning class in Fitzgerald Park

Health Benefits of Tai Chi?

Tai Chi can help alleviate a wide range of conditions including stress, arthritis, rheumatism, poor posture and lower back pain. It also enhances strength and muscle tone, improves co-ordination and balance, and increases both flexibility and range of motion. Research has shown that the daily practice of Tai Chi can reduce blood pressure as much as ordinary aerobic exercise without increasing the heart rate.

Tai Chi Chi Kung:

Tai Chi consists of a series of flowing movements that are good for the health, while Tai Chi Chi Kung, which is easier to learn, consists of 18 breathing exercises taken from the Tai Chi form. The exercises are done as individual exercises and are therefore easier to learn. These breathing exercises are practiced as part of the class.

Relax

The first principle of Tai Chi is relaxation, without which there is no Tai Chi; the whole body must be relaxed, loose and open, so that the Chi/Energy can pass through without blockage. Later on in our study, as we begin to relax we realise that relaxation is not simply becoming limp, there should be a quality of vitality about it. Building on that foundation, the practitioner will feel the difference between going limp, which is lifeless, and the relaxation of a cat, which is completely vital and alert. Tai Chi master Cheng Man-ch’ing described it as like a bale of cotton: soft, but the more compressed it is, the firmer and more substantial it becomes.

Styles practiced include:

  • Wudang Taoist Tai Chi 64 posture
  • Wudang Fusion of 5 Steps and 6 Movements
  • Wild Goose Qigong Ba Duan Jin/8 Pieces of Brocade
  • Shibashi/18 Postures Tai Chi Qi Gonq
  • Zhan Zhuang – Standing Postures
  • Push Hands – 2 person forms
  • Taoist and Zen meditation

Phone or text: 087 2744 735 to book a place or any further questions.
Classes held Tuesdays 6 – 7.30 pm, at The Teaching Rooms, 6 Sidney Place, Wellington Road, Cork

David Hankey

Hi, I’m David Hankey and I have been studying and practicing oriental health systems for more than 30 years.