Free tai chi for World of Cultures Festival, March & April 2024

Two women in red shirts doing holding red tai chi fans

A fusion of Chinese and Pākeha tai chi instructors, who are both Kiwis: Juliana (on the left) and Jocelyn

Embark on a tai chi adventure with us to experience Tai Chi for Fun and Energy. There’ll be six FREE opportunities to learn and these will happen across Ranui, Te Atatū and Manurewa for the 2024 World of Cultures Festival.

Tai chi is an ancient martial art from China, which you will learn from Jocelyn, Kia Ora Tai Chi and Juliana, Aroha Tai Chi. Together, we will provide an amazing teaching combo as we are an awesome fusion of Chinese and Pākeha Kiwis.

As well as health-boosting tai chi you will also experience the energy and exhilaration of the tai chi fan. This will be an unforgettable experience with the brilliant colour and movement of the fan, and the delightful snap of it opening. If you’re a seasoned practitioner this will add an extra layer of intrigue and excitement to your tai chi.

Adults of any age and ability will be welcome, especially newcomers, to learn this unique and fun form of tai chi. Children aged 5+ will be also be very welcome, if accompanied by an adult.

Group of people waving fans and looking happy

Fun with tai chi fans

Join Jocelyn and Juliana for one, two or all six of these 1-hour, FREE Tai Chi for Fun and Energy sessions. Ideal for beginners.

Friday 22 March, 2024: 9.15 – 10.15am, Ranui

  • Ranui Community Centre: 474 Swanson Road, Ranui, 0612
  • Places limited to maximum of 20. Children aged 5+ will be welcome if accompanied by an adult.
  • RSVP to: Juliana, Email: arohataichi@gmail.com or Ph/text: 021 905 742

Saturday 23 March, 2024: 15am – 11.15am, Te Atatū

  • Te Atatū Peninsula Community Centre: 595 Te Atatū Road, Te Atatū Peninsula, 0610
  • Places limited to maximum of 20. Children aged 5+ will be welcome if accompanied by an adult.
  • RSVP to: Juliana, Email: arohataichi@gmail.com or Ph/text: 021 905 742

Good Friday 29 March 2024, 9.15am – 10.15am, Ranui. Note: this event is weather dependent*

  • Ranui Domain, 504A Swanson Road, Ranui, 0612
  • Places limited to maximum of 20. Children aged 5+ will be welcome if accompanied by an adult.
  • RSVP to: Juliana, Email: arohataichi@gmail.com or Ph/text: 021 905 742
  • *Cancellation notice: If rain is forecast for the 29th, the cancellation notice will be posted on the Kia Ora Tai Chi Facebook page by 7pm on Thursday 28 March.

Easter Saturday 30 March, 2024, 10.15am – 11.15am, Te Atatū

  • Te Atatū Peninsula Community Centre: 595 Te Atatū Road, Te Atatū Peninsula, 0610
  • Places limited to maximum of 20. Children aged 5+ will be welcome if accompanied by an adult.
  • RSVP to: Juliana, Email: arohataichi@gmail.com or Ph/text: 021 905 742

Easter Saturday 30 March, 2024, 2.30pm – 3.30pm, Manurewa

  • The Theatre, at Nathan Homestead, 70 Hill Road, Manurewa, 2102
  • Places limited to maximum of 35. Children aged 5+ will be welcome if accompanied by an adult.
  • RSVP to Jocelyn, Email: kiaorataichi@gmail.com or Ph/text: 027 493 9851

 Saturday 13 April, 2024, 2.30pm – 3.30pm, Manurewa

  • The Theatre, at Nathan Homestead, 70 Hill Road, Manurewa, 2102
  • Places limited to maximum of 35. Children aged 5+ will be welcome if accompanied by an adult.
  • RSVP to Jocelyn, Email: kiaorataichi@gmail.com or Ph/text: 027 493 9851
Grand mansion in an Elizabethan, half-timbered architectural style, surrounded by a colourful garden.

Nathan Homestead, Manurewa

What to wear: Loose comfortable clothing along with something warm like a hoodie, jumper, cardigan, etc. Please wear flat-soled shoes such as sneakers, trainers or tennis shoes. Please also bring a bottle of drinking water.

What to expect: All of the sessions will begin with a sequence of easy, flowing, warm-up exercises that will be low impact and gentle on your joints. These exercises are designed to improve your balance, overall health and core strength.

Jocelyn and Juliana will then guide you through health-boosting tai chi – a series of linked steps and movements that will be fun and easy-to-learn.

We will finish with the tai chi fan form – a captivating fusion of martial arts and grace, with vibrant sound effects and colour. We’ll teach you how to wield the fan with finesse and flair.

What is tai chi?

Often described as “moving meditation”, tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art and exercise programme that combines mental focus with relaxed movements. It is sometimes referred to as “taiji” or “tai chi chuan”.

Tai chi not just a physical exercise but a holistic journey towards balance, vitality and greater well-being.

Adults of any age and ability, and children aged 5+ (with an accompanying adult), are all welcome. Places are limited so please RSVP ahead of time.

Come join us, bring your smiles, and let’s make unforgettable memories together with tai chi.

Bright pink, purple and yellow and colourful logo for World of Cultures Festival

Our Tai Chi for Fun and Energy events are part of the official programme for Auckland Council’s 2024 World of Cultures Festival.

Find out more about:

Free tai chi, Huia Lodge Late event, Fri 15 Mar 2024

Beautiful Edwardian buildings in a park at sunset.

Huia Lodge Discovery Hub, Cornwall Park

The Huia Lodge Discovery Hub, in beautiful Cornwall Park, is staying open late on Friday 15 March 2024, and everyone is invited!

Energize your body and soul at this FREE Huia Lodge Late event from 5 – 7pm. I’ll be part of vibrancy with my rejuvenating, 15-minute tai chi drop-in sessions during the evening.

Join me on Friday 15 March to shake off the week’s stress so you can embrace a fun evening with lots of other activities, performances and exhibitions.

Location: Huia Lodge Discovery Hub next to the Cornwall Park Bistro (the old tea kiosk).

Address: Michael Horton Drive, Cornwall Park, Auckland 1051. Refer to Google street map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/m85TZUQmcFVPQVZC7

If you are coming to the park with a vehicle, the parking closest to the Huia Lodge Discovery Hub is ONLY accessible from the Greenlane Road West entrance to the park.

The event is organised by the park’s events team. You don’t need to book or register. This event is FREE. Just come, bring whānau and friends and enjoy the fun.

Rain date: Friday 22 March 2024, 5 – 7pm

Find out more

Free summer tai chi from January to March 2024

FREE tai chi and qigong sessions with Jocelyn Watkin and/or another instructor from Kia Ora Tai Chi will be held (weather dependent) in Cornwall Park (in Auckland) every Sunday morning, 9am, and Tuesday evening, 6pm. Starting on Sunday 21 January and finishing on Tuesday 26 March 2022.

These sessions are free for anyone and are suitable for all ages and abilities. Beginners will be very welcome.

Dates and times:

  • Starting Sunday 21 January 2024, 9 – 9.45am and every Sunday morning until 24th March 2024 (weather permitting)
  • Starting Tuesday 23 January 2024, 6 – 6.45pm and every Tuesday evening until 26th March 2024 (weather permitting).

Location in the park: Same as in previous years. If coming into the park from Greenlane Road West, you’ll be on Pōhutukawa Drive (the main road into the park). The tai chi sessions will be under the trees on the left-hand-side about half-way up Pōhutukawa Drive. (If you get to the roundabout, you’ve gone too far.)

Registration is not required, just show up 5 -10 minutes before each session starts.

As all of the sessions are outdoors, the weather needs to be on our side to go ahead. If you are uncertain on whether the session will be held you can:

I can’t wait to see everyone again who attended in previous years and also to meet anyone new, who would love to try tai chi and qigong this summer.

Curious about tai chi and qigong? Find out more here: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/tai-chi/

A big thank you to founder of the park, Sir John Logan Campbell, for his gift of Cornwall Park to the people of Auckland. Also, huge thanks to the Cornwall Park Trust Board, which administers his legacy and provides funding for these sessions so you can attend for free.

2023: Good things happened with Kia Ora Tai Chi

2023 has had many challenges but also much to celebrate and be thankful for.

January to March 2023: Record attendance at summer tai chi and qigong in Cornwall Park 
353 participants attended over 17 sessions, making last summer (my 6th in the park) my best ever. This was despite having to cancel six lessons due to rain, more rain, and then a big cyclone.

Over six summers, I have now introduced the delights and health benefits of tai chi and qigong to a total 1,352 participants.

Special thanks to Barry, Juliana and Pauline for your valuable help as co-instructors in the park.

All are welcome to attend the 2024 season of free summer tai chi and qigong in Cornwall Park. Ideal for beginners of all ages and abilities. Details in this link: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/free-tai-chi/ 

Snow Rabbit/Lotus Qigong became a hot favourite in 2023

This was going to be a ‘oncer’ in Cornwall Park for the Lunar/Chinese New Year in February.

However, attendees became so entranced by the lovely, flowing movements and the charming narrative about the little snow rabbit dreaming of Spring, that they always requested it at each session in the park. The delight of Snow Rabbit Qigong has spread to all of my other classes.

2024 will be the Year of the Dragon and there’s lots of scope to teach a form of dragon qigong. I can’t wait!

Spinning and twirling in 2023

In March, I teamed up with SpinPoi, Cornwall Park and the Re-Creators team for a free, zero-waste poi making workshop and SpinPoi lesson.

What a fantastic collaboration! The team from Re-Creators showed all attendees how to make poi from reclaimed t-shirts and wool stuffing for every part of the poi. Excess scraps were incorporated back in, to make this a truly zero-waste activity.

At the event, people of all ages and abilities jumped at the chance to make a set of poi. As soon as each person and/or family group finished their creations I was there to show them how to spin, twirl and swing their poi.

Check out video of this really fun event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aT4tQ0cqLVQ

Later in 2023, I upgraded my SpinPoi qualification and taught SpinPoi to a group of adults with autism.

I was also honoured to be appointed (one of three) to the global Lead Instructor Team for SpinPoi. My area of expertise on this team is the kaupapa/principles of teaching.

April and May 2023: TV stars with my tai chi group at Acacia Cove Retirement Village

Myself and several of my older students at Acacia had the opportunity to trial a new app for fall prevention, called Nymbl. This app supports the important skill of dual-tasking by getting you to do combo of movement and quizzes (that’s the dual-tasking bit), which in turn helps you to improve your balance.

We were featured twice on TV3 about our experiences with Nymbl and you can watch here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnE5yhzFI1Q  (There might be an annoying advertising clip at the start. Just click “Skip Ad” as soon as you get the chance to do so.)

Here are the links to download the Nymbl app, which is free for use in New Zealand, as it is funded for all New Zealanders by he Accident Compensation Commission (ACC):

You can find out more about the Nymbl app here: https://fallsfree.co.nz/

May 2023: Vantastic Vanuatu

My 1st ever international tai chi and qigong retreat was twelve months in the planning and then three years of postponements during the global pandemic. In May this year, we finally made it to the aptly named Paradise Cove Resort, in Vanuatu. The wait was definitely worth it.

I taught the magical 5-Element Qigong, with a deep dive into the elements of Earth, Fire, Wood, Water and Metal. I was blown away with how the participants responded to this and what they wrote in their journals. We also ‘dived’ into the health-boosting 12 Rivers Qigong.

There was plenty of time for diving into other activities, too, such as snorkeling in the calm lagoon at the resort’s beach, and outings to real rivers (not just rivers of qigong) and waterfalls. Can you imagine swimming up to and under a waterfall? Totally awesome.

Thank you to the very special people who never gave up hope that we’d finally get to Vanuatu and who made this retreat so wonderful: Juliana, Fran, Kevin, Sarah, Caroline, Constance and Marc.

June 2023: A new beginners class

Our usual evening class venue suddenly became unavailable at the start of the year. After waiting several months in the hope that we could get back there, we eventually settled permanently into a different venue.

This meant I could finally start a new evening class for beginners. I now have 20 ‘newbies’, who are keen and enthusiastic (and also addicted to Snow Rabbit Qigong).

Thank you to Ned for your help in finding our permanent “home” in Clendon, Manurewa. When compared with our previous venue it is so much better – warmer in winter, with brighter lighting and a better car park. Find out more about my evening classes here: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/classes/

July 2023: Matariki and Mindfulness Month

Thank you for your help, support and donations during Mindfulness Month in July, which helped me to raise nearly $400 towards the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

As well as daily, mindful activities during the month, I donated my teaching time for three mindful sessions of tai chi, qigong and restorative journaling during Matariki as a fund-raiser for the foundation. With other volunteers, we collectively raised over $55,000 for the foundation during Mindfulness Month.

Thank you so much everyone. Your generosity means that more New Zealanders will be able to get help with their mental health.

I plan to be part of Mindfulness Month again in 2024.

September 2023: Doing tai chi in the home of tai chi – China

Photo: Jocelyn in the centre of the photo, wearing red shirt and red shoes

I had an unexpected trip to China in September on a family matter. While I was in Honghu City (in Hubei Province), I was invited to join a local tai chi group for their training session.

For many years, I have been taught an ancient form of tai chi that is not common in China today. When I demonstrated that style of tai chi to the group in Honghu City, I received a completely unexpected invitation to come back and teach that form of tai chi to the group.

Once I was back in Aotearoa/NZ, I talked about this experience with my advanced students, and they’re keen to explore the idea of a visit to China. Of course, all of my students (including beginners) will be welcome, should I organise such a trip.

I keep in touch with the sifu (instructor) of that group. He is very encouraging about me returning to Honghu City. At this stage, we have set a provisional date of April 2025 for a group of my students to accompany me. There is a lot to do and think about before then and I’ll keep you posted.

Throughout 2023: Earth Art –  the art of letting go and coping with change

Earth art (also known as earth altars) are temporary art installations / designs / mandalas made from foraged leaves, flowers, shells, etc, that have fallen from trees or been released by the sea.

Over 2023, I explored how these installations can help with managing stress and change.

When practiced regularly, tai chi and qigong can be very effective for reducing stress. When combined with earth art, the stress relief is even greater.

Creating “art that doesn’t last” and then letting the wind, rain, time and tide change and reclaim it, helps us to understand and accept that change and impermanence is normal in the circle of life.

I am considering how best to offer a session on earth art with you in 2024.

Final words for 2023
Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me over 2023 and particularly:

  • Barry Vodanovich, for being my co-teacher both at Cornwall Park and also for my evening classes. He is our tai chi cane form master and many of you have learned this amazing tai chi form from him.
  • Grant Williams, for attending frequently and also helping as an assistant teacher.
  • Pat James, for leading the Acacia group in practice sessions when I couldn’t attend.
  • My lovely husband, Ken, who attends every evening class, puts the tables and chairs away, lugs my charts and posters from and back to the car, checks the attendance register, is the appointed fire warden, and who also accompanies my students back to their cars at the end of class, including lighting their steps with a torch in winter.

Lastly, all of you for attending my classes, workshops, retreats and sessions, for keeping in touch with texts and emails, for reading my e-newsletters and giving me such positive feedback; and for telling me how much you love tai chi and qigong.

What happens in vagus doesn’t stay in vagus

Silhouette of a man running with nerves and arteries lit up in bright colours in his bodyYou might have heard the expression “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” (as in Las Vegas).

However, this doesn’t apply to the vagus nerve in our bodies. What happens with that nerve affects our health and the health of our organs.

I’ve been reading about the vagus nerve and it’s fascinating. If you want to stop gambling with your health, place your bets on your vagus nerve.

In this article*, the vagus nerve is described as “one of 12 cranial nerves. Cranial means nerves that start directly from the cranium, or brain, and not the spinal cord.

It is the longest cranial nerve, emerging from the brain stem and extends down the neck into the chest and abdomen.

It is named after the Latin word for “wanderer”, because it wanders like a vagabond, sending out nerve fibers into different body parts: the digestive system, liver, spleen, pancreas, heart, and lungs.”

You could call the vagus nerve our body’s ‘chill out’ button.

Outline of a human head and torso showing the vagus nerve fibres stretching down from the neck and spreading sideways over the torso.

The wandering vagus nerve

It is our main nerve affecting the ‘rest and digest’ system, which counterbalances stress and our ‘flight, fight or freeze’ system. As such, it has an essential role in keeping us in balance and healthy by:

  • Sending signals between the brain and the gut
  • Aiding digestion
  • Regulating the immune system and reducing inflammation
  • Controlling the heart rate and blood pressure
  • Helping to modulate sleep and wakefulness
  • Assisting with speech and swallowing

When the vagus nerve doesn’t work properly (referred to by medics as having a low vagal tone) this is can lead to or aggravate many disorders, such as

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Type two diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Other autoimmune disorders
  • Chronic inflammation
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep disorders
  • Mood and anxiety symptoms
  • PTSD

So, the question arises – can we improve vagal tone (vagus nerve health)? The answer is “Yes”!  As well as following advice from your doctor, general therapies and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, we can also stimulate our vagus nerve to improve its tone.

You know what I’m going to say next, don’t you?? Yep, tai chi and qigong can help because they involve stretching, breathing exercises and meditation – all of which stimulate better vagal toneYoga has the same effect.

Massaging certain parts of your body can help and, believe it or not, humming can also assist as it vibrates in your mouth, jaw, throat and chest all of which support good vagal tone.

However, if you think you may have a problem with your vagus nerve, it is crucial to first see your doctor. They can diagnose the cause and recommend the best course of treatment.

Find out more:

New beginners welcome on Monday evenings, Sept – Dec 2023

Adults of any age and ability are welcome to join the tai chi and qigong (pronounced chee-gong) Monday evening class for beginners, from September to December 2023. Please RSVP before you attend by texting or phoning Jocelyn on 027 493 9851 or use the Contact Form.

Classes are every Monday evening 6.30 – 7.15pm (except for public holidays and over the Christmas/New Year period). Your first class is free and please arrive for this class between 6.15 and 6.29pm.

The venue is the St Elizabeth’s Church hall, which is located at 182 Finlayson Avenue, Clendon, Manurewa, Auckland 2103. There is free parking on site. Please refer to this map:   https://goo.gl/maps/eLgqq5bHz4ATjBok9

What to wear: Please wear loose comfortable clothing and bring a something warm like a hoodie, jumper, cardigan, etc. Please also wear flat-soled shoes (such as sneakers, trainers or tennis shoes). Please also bring a bottle of drinking water.

Facemasks may be required: Depending on levels of Covid or the ‘flu in the wider community, it may be necessary at certain times to wear a facemask on arrival and when talking with others. If it is safe to do so, you can remove your facemask during classes if you wish, as long as we can all physically distance ourselves. (Please refer further below for other Covid safety requirements.)

What to expect: All of the classes begin with a sequence of easy, flowing, warm-up exercises which are low impact and gentle on your joints. These exercises are designed to improve your balance, overall health and core strength.

Then, Jocelyn and her team of instructors will guide you through health-boosting qigong (pronounced chee-gong) movements and/or a tai chi form – a series of linked postures and steps, which are also designed to strengthen your leg and core muscles and improve balance. The steps are performed in a slow, focussed manner and accompanied by deep breathing (known as qigong, which means ‘breath work’ and ‘energy work’). You can find out more about qigong and tai chi here: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/tai-chi/

If possible, please attend classes every week. If you miss a class, please commit to practicing at home to keep up with others in your group and to receive the full health benefits of tai chi and qigong. Regular practice can help improve strength, health and balance, reduce stress and lower blood pressure.  Read more about the health benefits.

Pricing:

  • Your first class is free.
  • After the free class: Prices range from $10 to $15 per class (depending on how many classes are purchased in advance).

If you’d like more information or to RSVP, please text or phone Jocelyn on 027 493 9851 or please use the Contact Form.

Covid, colds and influenza protection requirements when attending classes:

  • Please stay at home if you have Covid or whenever you have a cold or flu-like symptoms or if someone in your household has Covid or the ‘flu. You are not charged for missed classes under these circumstances.
  • About face masks: Some of the current students are immuno-compromised. As such, everyone in our tai chi group has decided to help and support their fellow students who are less fortunate with their health. Whenever there are high levels of Covid-19 and ‘flu in the wider community, ALL have AGREED to wear high quality facemasks on arrival and when chatting to others before the class starts/after the class finishes. This is regardless of any lesser requirements recommended by the NZ Government. If you do not think it is necessary to wear a facemask or you don’t want to wear one, your best option is to join a different tai chi group.
  • If you wish, you can remove your mask during the class, as long as it is safe to do so and we can all physically distance ourselves.
  • Anyone who wants to keep wearing a mask throughout the class is welcome to do so and their views/wishes are respected by others.
  • The hall will be well-ventilated as the doors open in ALL weathers, so please wear layered clothing to keep warm.
  • All instructors are vaccinated, including with all boosters.

If you’d like to have a kōrero (chat) or to RSVP, please text or phone Jocelyn on 027 493 9851 or please use the Contact Form.

The above map shows the location of the evening classes in St Elizabeth’s Church hall. The entrance to the hall and the parking is at 182 Finlayson Avenue, Clendon, Manurewa, Auckland 2103.

Please text or phone Jocelyn on 027 493 9851 for more information about any of her classes, courses, workshops or retreats. Alternatively, please use the Contact Form to get in touch.

Tai chi and qigong are easy, fun and really great exercises, which are good for your body and helpful at reducing stress. If you are unable to stand for very long, Jocelyn and several of her assistant instructors can teach seated tai chi and qigong, which you can do alongside the rest of the class.

 

All tai chi classes are approved with the BIG TICK  for the Community Group Strength and Balance Programme so you can “Live Stronger for Longer”.

What is tai chi and qigong? Often described as “moving meditation”, tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art and exercise programme that combines mental focus with deliberate and relaxed movements that are gentle on your joints. It is sometimes referred to as “taiji” or “tai chi chuan”.

Tai chi is a subset of the much older practice of qigong, which is a deep breathing and meditative exercise. In Chinese, the word is made up of two characters: ‘Qi’ = air, breath and life energy; and ‘gong’ = working hard to develop a high skill level. Therefore, qigong means: ‘the skill of getting more breath, energy and life’.

Read more about the health benefits of tai chi and qigong.

Please text or phone Jocelyn to have a kōrero: 027 493 9851. Alternatively, please use the Contact Form to get in touch.