Acupuncture Wellness Center
Kung Fu, Tai Chi & Chi Kung for Health
During our busy, often stressful days, there is a tendency to narrow down, to withdraw our mind's focus in the moment. As this happens, tension unconsciously creeps into our body. Before we know it, we are uptight, short tempered, fatigued, and making poor decisions. Our clarity has departed. When the body is not relaxed, the mind suffers. By working with the inherent and innate self-corrective forces of the body, the grip our circumstances has on us can be softened. Real perspective and insight can return.
Daoshi Sifu Dinsmore has retired his martial arts school but may accept applications from select serious students for private lessons in the extremely rare original forms of Nam Pai Tai Zu Chang Chuan Tsoi Li Ho Fut Hung, called by Inside Kung Fu Magazine "The pure Chinese, legendary and devastating art of Kung Fu San Soo".
People spend a lot of time and money making sure that their outer selves are presentable, then we abuse our inner selves by eating too much or the wrong things, drinking, smoking and denying ourselves love. Most people are simply unaware that illness and poor health are a direct result of accumulated years of stress and seemingly minor abuse of their physical body, especially the vital organs.
As we age, the energy route which brings vital power to our internal organs and enables them to function become progressively more blocked by physical and mental tension. The result is general fatigue,weakness, and poor health. If we do not live a healthy lifestyle and practice Chi cultivation to keep these routes open, they will gradually close, causing emotional imbalance, premature sickness, and premature old age. Simply by reestablishing the same strong flow of Chi we had as a child, our vital organs will begin to glow with radiant health. Our true task is only to reawaken this healing power.
Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Chi Kung practice restore the smooth flow of Chi.
The graceful images of people gliding through dance-like poses as they practice tai chi (TIE-chee) are compelling. Simply watching them is relaxing. Tai chi, in fact, is often described as "meditation in motion" because it promotes serenity through gentle movements connecting the mind and body.
Originally developed in China as a form of self-defense, tai chi is a graceful form of exercise that has existed for some 2,000 years. Practiced regularly, tai chi can help you reduce stress and enjoy other health benefits.
Tai chi, sometimes called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. To do tai chi, you perform a series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner. Each posture flows into the next without pausing.
Anyone, regardless of age or physical ability, can practice tai chi. It doesn't take physical prowess. Rather, tai chi emphasizes technique over strength.
Tai chi is used to:
- Reduce stress
- Increase flexibility
- Improve muscle strength and definition
- Increase energy, stamina and agility
- Increase feelings of well-being
Tai chi has more than 100 possible movements and positions. You can find several that you like and stick with those, or explore the full range. The intensity of tai chi varies somewhat depending on the form or style practiced. Some forms of tai chi are more fast-paced than others, for instance. However, most forms are gentle and suitable for everyone. And they all include rhythmic patterns of movement that are coordinated with breathing.
Although tai chi is generally safe, consider talking with your doctor before starting a new program. This is particularly important if you have any problems with your joints, spine or heart.
Like other practices that bring mind and body together, tai chi can reduce stress. During tai chi, you focus on movement and breathing. This combination creates a state of relaxation and calm. Stress, anxiety and tension should melt away as you focus on the present, and the effects may last well after you stop your tai chi session.
Tai chi may also help your overall health, although it's not a substitute for traditional medical care. Tai chi is generally safe for people of all ages and levels of fitness. Older adults may especially find tai chi appealing because the movements are low impact and put minimal stress on muscles and joints. Tai chi may also be helpful if you have arthritis or are recovering from an injury.
Despite its ancient history, tai chi has been studied scientifically only in recent years. And that research is suggesting that tai chi may offer numerous other benefits beyond stress reduction, including:
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Improving balance and coordination
- Reducing the number of falls
- Improving sleep quality, such as staying asleep longer at night and feeling more alert during the day
- Slowing bone loss in women after menopause
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Relieving chronic pain
- Improving everyday physical functioning
Wondering how to get started in tai chi? You don't need any special clothing or equipment to do tai chi. To gain full benefits, however, it may be best to seek guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor.
A tai chi instructor can teach you specific positions and how to regulate your breathing. An instructor also can teach you how to practice tai chi safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic conditions, or balance or coordination problems. Although tai chi is slow and gentle, with virtually no negative side effects, injuries are possible if tai chi isn't done properly. It's possible you could strain yourself or overdo it when first learning. Or if you have balance problems, you could fall during tai chi.
During tai chi classes, the instructor can give you personal guidance and correct any errors in your style before they become habit. Eventually, you may feel confident enough to do tai chi on your own. But if you like the social element, consider sticking with group classes.
To reap the greatest stress reduction benefits from tai chi, consider practicing it regularly. Many people find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes.
You can even draw on the soothing concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements if you get stuck in stressful situations — a traffic jam or a work conflict, for instance.
Fibromyalgia and Tai Chi
Tai Chi Reported to Ease Fibromyalgia
Jodi Hilton for The New York Times
Mary Petersen, who has been suffering from Fibromyalgia, practicing tai chi on Nahant Beach, Mass., near her home.
The ancient Chinese practice of tai chi may be effective as a therapy for fibromyalgia, according to a study published on Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
A clinical trial at Tufts Medical Center found that after 12 weeks of tai chi, patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, did significantly better in measurements of pain, fatigue, physical functioning, sleeplessness and depression than a comparable group given stretching exercises and wellness education. Tai chi patients were also more likely to sustain improvement three months later.
“It’s an impressive finding,” said Dr. Daniel Solomon, chief of clinical research in rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who was not involved in the research. “This was a well-done study. It was kind of amazing that the effects seem to carry over.”
Although the study was small, 66 patients, several experts considered it compelling because fibromyalgia is a complex and often-confusing condition, affecting five million Americans, mostly women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since its symptoms can be wide-ranging and can mimic other disorders, and its diagnosis depends largely on patients’ descriptions, not blood tests or biopsies, its cause and treatment have been the subject of debate.
“We thought it was notable that The New England Journal accepted this paper, that they would take fibromyalgia on as an issue, and also because tai chi is an alternative therapy that some people raise eyebrows about,” said Dr. Robert Shmerling, clinical chief of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, co-author of an editorial about the study.
“Fibromyalgia is so common, and we have such a difficult time treating it effectively. It’s defined by what the patient tells you,” he added. “It’s hard for some patients’ families and their doctors to get their head around what it is and whether it’s real. So, that these results were so positive for something that’s very safe is an impressive accomplishment.”
Recent studies have suggested that tai chi, with its slow exercises, breathing and meditation, could benefit patients with other chronic conditions, including arthritis. But not all of these reports have been conclusive, and tai chi is hard to study because there are many styles and approaches.
The fibromyalgia study involved the yang style of tai chi, taught by a Boston tai chi master, Ramel Rones. Dr. Solomon and other experts cautioned that bigger studies with other masters and approaches were necessary.
Still, patients, who received twice-weekly tai chi classes and a DVD to practice with 20 minutes daily, showed weekly improvement on an established measurement, the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, improving more than the stretching-and-education group in physicians’ assessments, sleep, walking and mental health. One-third stopped using medication, compared with one-sixth in the stretching group.
Dr. Chenchen Wang, a Tufts rheumatologist who led the study, said she attributed the results to the fact that “fibromyalgia is a very complex problem” and “tai chi has multiple components — physical, psychological, social and spiritual.”
The therapy impressed Mary Petersen, 59, a retired phone company employee from Lynn, Mass., who said that before participating in the 2008 study, “I couldn’t walk half a mile,” and it “hurt me so much just to put my hands over my head.” Sleeping was difficult, and she was overweight. “There was no joy to life,” she said. “I was an entire mess from head to foot.”
She had tried and rejected medication, physical therapy, swimming and other approaches. “I was used to being treated in a condescending manner because they couldn’t diagnose me: ‘She’s menopausal, she’s crazy.’ ”
Before the study, “I didn’t know tai chi from a sneeze,” said Ms. Petersen, who has diabetes and other conditions. “I was like, ‘Well, O.K., I’ll get to meet some people, it will get me out of the house.’ I didn’t believe any of it. I thought this is so minimal, it’s stupid.”
After a few weeks, she said she began to feel better, and after 12 weeks “the pain had diminished 90 percent.” She has continued tai chi, lost 50 pounds and can walk three to seven miles a day.
“You could not have convinced me that I would ever have done this or continued with this,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a cure. I will say it’s an effective method of controlling pain.”
Dr. Shmerling said that though tai chi is inexpensive compared with other treatments, some patients would reject such an alternative therapy. And Dr. Gloria Yeh, a Beth Israel Deaconess internist and co-author of the editorial, said others “will say, ‘It’s too slow, I can’t do that.’ ”
But she said it offered a “gentler option” for patients deterred by other physical activities. “The mind-body connections set it apart from other exercises,” she said, adding that doctors are seeking “anything we can offer that will make patients say ‘I can really do this.’ ”
Private lessons are also available in Kwan Yin Zheng Yi Chuan Chi Kung internal exercise for health. Yi means intention, will power, or a single minded focus of energy. Zheng Yi means True Mind. To apply this concept in practice, mental clarity is essential. The more coherent the visualization, the better the result. When the mind is scattered, the chi is too.
Chi Kung is a wonderful tool for bringing health, peace and vitality into one’s life.
It consists of very simple and exercises and meditations, which are effective in increasing the energy levels in our bodies.
Chi Kung means internal energy circulation and was develop in China by Taoist monks.
Chi Kung has been in use for hundreds of years for developing health and also for developing internal power for martial arts.
Chi is the foundation of Chinese medical theory, it is the very source of our health and without an abundance of Chi in our bodies we cannot survive or stay healthy.
Chi Kung can be practice by young and old alike, and those who practice will benefit hugely from the health benefits received.
Chi Kung practice aids in the stimulation and circulation of chi, also the muscles and tendons become strengthened and toned.
With consistent Chi Kung practice, you will experience its enduring benefits as you go about your life and work.
Your mind and body become exceptionally alert.
You’re mental and emotional faculties are refreshed and balanced.
You will have greater resilience under pressure and recover more easily from illness and injury.
With precisely controlled movements, they can be coordinated with essential postures to raise the body's energy to dramatic levels.
With careful practice you will be able to use and direct that power, in all aspects of your daily life
It is important to realize that the conventional medical paradigm is only one of many ways to look at health and illness, and it is not necessarily the only correct way.
According to the Chinese medical paradigm, there is no such a thing as an incurable disease. It is our natural birth-right to overcome all types of diseases — if our psychological and physiological systems are working the way they should work. Illness occurs only if one or more of these natural systems fail in their functions. When all our systems are functioning naturally, the Chinese figuratively describe this condition as harmonious chi flow, i.e. the energy flow that supplies the right information to every part of our body (and mind), that provides the right defense or immunity when needed, that repairs all our wear and tear, that channels away toxic waste and negative emotions, and that performs other countless things to keep as alive and healthy, is functioning the way it should. If this harmonious chi flow is disrupted, illness occurs.
The forte of chi kung is to restore and enhance this harmonious chi flow, thus overcoming illness, irrespective of the labels one may use to define its symptoms, and promoting health, which the Chinese have always considered to be more important than curing diseases.
It is significant to note that the claim of chi kung to overcome illness and promote health is not based just on the above philosophical explanation, but on thousands and thousands of practical cases.
Tai Chi In The News
Downside to Tai Chi? None That I See
By JANE E. BRODY
The graceful, dancelike progression of meditative poses called tai chi originated in ancient China as a martial art, but the exercise is best known in modern times as a route to reduced stress and enhanced health. After reviewing existing scientific evidence for its potential health benefits, I’ve concluded that the proper question to ask yourself may not be why you should practice tai chi, but why not.
It is a low-impact activity suitable for people of all ages and most states of health, even those who “hate” exercise or have long been sedentary. It is a gentle, calming exercise — some call it meditation in motion — that involves deep breathing but no sweat or breathlessness.
It places minimal stress on joints and muscles and thus is far less likely than other forms of exercise to cause muscle soreness or injury. It requires no special equipment or clothing and can be practiced almost anywhere at any time, alone or with others.
Once the proper technique is learned from a qualified instructor, continuing to practice it need not cost another cent.
The many small studies of tai chi have found health benefits ranging from better balance and prevention of falls to reduced blood pressure, relief of pain and improved immunity.
The latest and perhaps best designed study was conducted among patients with debilitating fibromyalgia, a complex and poorly understood pain syndrome.
Dr. Chenchen Wang and colleagues at Tufts Medical Center in Boston reported in August in The New England Journal of Medicine that tai chi reduced pain and fatigue and improved the patients’ ability to move, function physically and sleep. The benefits persisted long after the 12 weeks of tai chi sessions ended.
The study was financed primarily by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. To be sure, documenting tai chi’s purported health benefits is a challenge. As an editorial in the journal noted, it is virtually impossible to design an ideal study of tai chi. There is no “fake” version that could serve as a proper control to be tested against the real thing. Thus, researchers have to rely on less-than-perfect comparison groups. In the fibromyalgia study, for example, the control group was given stretching exercises and wellness education.
And unlike evaluations of drugs, tai chi studies cannot be double-blinded such that neither patients nor researchers know which group is receiving which treatment. Those guided by a tai chi master would undoubtedly know who they are and could be influenced by the teacher’s enthusiasm for the practice.
Still, scientists have come to better understand and appreciate the mind-body connection, which for too long was dismissed as nothing more than a placebo effect, and most doctors are now more willing to accept the possibility that stress-reducing activities can have a profound effect on health.
A Stress Reducer
There is no question that tai chi can reduce stress. As the study authors described it, tai chi “combines meditation with slow, gentle, graceful movements, as well as deep breathing and relaxation to move vital energy (called qi by the Chinese) throughout the body.”
If nothing else, this kind of relaxing activity can lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve cardiovascular fitness and enhance mood. For example, a review in 2008 found that tai chi lowered blood pressure in 22 of 26 published studies.
Thus, it can be a useful aid in treating heart disease, high blood pressure and depression, conditions common among older people who may be unable to benefit from more physically demanding exercise.
Regular practitioners of tai chi report that they sleep better, feel healthier and experience less pain and stiffness, though it cannot be said for certain that tai chi alone is responsible for such benefits.
Yet as Dr. Wang and co-authors noted in an earlier report that analyzed the literature on tai chi and health, a majority of studies have been small and poorly controlled, if they were controlled at all. Therefore, the tai chi practitioners could have been healthier to begin with or could have practiced other health-enhancing habits.
Perhaps the best-documented benefit of tai chi, and one that is easiest to appreciate, is its ability to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls, even in people in their 80s and 90s. The moves are done in a smooth, continuous fashion, as weight is shifted from one leg to the other and arms are moved rhythmically. This can improve muscle strength and flexibility, and enable the muscles in the legs and hips to function in a more coordinated and balanced manner. Thus, practitioners become more stable and sure-footed.
Another benefit, again especially important to older adults, is the apparent ability of tai chi to improve immune function. In a 2007 study also financed by the Complementary and Alternative Medicine center, those who practiced tai chi had a better response to the varicella zoster vaccine that can help prevent shingles.
Talk to a Doctor First
Tai chi is not a substitute for professional medical care, but rather an adjunct to such care and a way to keep debility at bay. As with other forms of alternative medicine, it is best to consult your physician before signing up for instruction.
This is especially important if you are a pregnant woman or have serious physical limitations, joint problems, back pain or advanced osteoporosis. While such conditions do not preclude practicing tai chi, you may have to modify or avoid certain positions.
Although tai chi is a gentle exercise, one can get carried away. Overdoing any activity, including tai chi, can result in sore or sprained muscles. On its Web site, the Complementary and Alternative Medicine center notes that “tai chi instructors often recommend that you do not practice tai chi right after a meal, or when you are very tired, or if you have an active infection.”
Also important is assurance that your instructor is well qualified. Instructors do not have to be licensed, and the practice is not regulated by any governmental authority. There are many styles of tai chi — the yang style is most commonly practiced in Western countries — and there are no established training standards.
Traditionally, would-be instructors learn from a master teacher. Before choosing an instructor, you’d be wise to inquire about the person’s training and experience.
Learning tai chi from a qualified instructor is critical. The Complementary and Alternative Medicine center cautions that trying to learn it from a book or video is no guarantee that you will be able to perform the moves safely and correctly. Reliable sources of instructors include Y.M.C.A.’s and Y.W.C.A.’s, and well-run commercial gyms.
Finally, attending a few sessions or even a 12-week course is not enough to guarantee lasting health benefits. As with any other form of exercise, tai chi must be practiced regularly and indefinitely to maintain its value.