Free summer tai chi in Cornwall Park

When: Sunday mornings, 9 – 9.45am, starting on Sunday 5 January 2020 and every Sunday morning in January and February (weather permitting).

When: Tuesday evenings, 6 – 6.45pm, starting on Tuesday 7 January 2020 and every Tuesday evening in January and February (weather permitting)

Where: Pohutukawa Drive in Cornwall Park, Auckland 1051. Refer to map: Tai chi will be under the trees to the left of Pohutukawa Drive, about half-way up this road (when entering Cornwall Park from Greenlane Road West). Look for the signs and your instructors in red Kia Ora Tai Chi shirts.  Details on how to get to Cornwall Park

What to wear: Loose, comfortable clothing, sun hat, sun block and flat shoes. Please bring insect repellent and a drink bottle of water.

Ideal for beginners. All ages welcome. Just come along. No need to RSVP.

What happens if it is wet? The cancellation notice will be posted on the Kia Ora Tai Chi facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/kiaorataichi/ Or you can ask Jocelyn by text on 027 493 9851.

Tai chi – A major stress reliever

Group of people doing tai chi in a gym

The Kia Ora Tai Chi team teaching tai chi the “He Aha Te Hauora? What the Health?” Expo in Manurewa

Most of us know that exercise can help to reduce stress and boost your mood.

Tai chi is one of the best, but probably also the most underrated exercise for stress relief and improvement in your overall health. This is possibly because it doesn’t seem to fit the Western world’s obsession with the need to ‘go hard’ or, worse, the mantra of ‘no pain/no gain’.

Tai chi works for stress relief and for many other health-related issues because it combines low-impact movements with meditation for a body-mind workout.

Dee Ogilvy, who has practiced tai chi for more than 20 years and now runs her own tai chi programme, while also teaching it as a part of Missouri State University’s Employee Wellness Program, says: “tai chi’s positive effects on our mind is mostly thanks to the meditation component of the exercise”.

A small study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology reported that brief mindfulness meditation (three x 25-minute sessions) minimised psychological stress. Ogilvy notes that the effects are even greater when movement and meditation are paired together — having to be present and focus on your movements and breathing helps bring on the relaxation.

Studies have also shown that tai chi can improve the quality of your sleep, improve cardio function, and, for older adults, can have positive effects on cognitive function and memory.

Testimonial on the calming, peaceful effects of tai chi during the “He Aha Te Hauora? What the Health?” Expo at the Manurewa Leisure Centre on 21 June 2019:

“Kia Ora Tai Chi was at the Expo! Jocelyn, Pat and Jeff led us in a demonstration. Tai chi is an incredibly powerful practice for your wellbeing. When they started the energy of the room shifted to a more peaceful vibe. It was magical.” 

Testimonial from Edith of Drive Consumer Direction Counties Manukau

Note: Drive Consumer Direction Counties Manukau is a network that represents the interests of people in the Counties Manukau region who experience mental health and/or addiction challenges.

Discover more:

Stress Less, Live Best Retreat in Vanuatu

Woman taking a deep breath on a beach at sunset

CANCELLED *** CANCELLED *** CANCELLED Vanuatu Retreat: Stress Less and Live Best with Kia Ora Tai Chi and Qigong

Cancelled for Sunday 10 – Saturday 16 May 2020

Where: Paradise Cove Resort, Vanuatu

If you are tired of feeling stressed and overwhelmed, or sick of being tired, or if you want to sample the health benefits that tai chi and qigong can offer, then this retreat is for you.

You can discover the secrets of reducing stress by joining me, (Jocelyn Watkin), for seven days/six nights in the tropical paradise of Vanuatu. You’ll learn easy and flowing tai chi and qigong to help you to:

  • breathe your way to better health
  • calm your mind to relieve anxiety and worry
  • tap into the Chinese Five Elements to get even more amazing health benefits from your qigong and tai chi.
  • understand the techniques and skills that really work for you, which you can use to manage the ‘overwhelm’ and stress long-term, once you return home.

There’ll be plenty of “you time” to re-discover your inner paradise, too. Visualise this… after a short 3-hour flight from New Zealand you could be:

  • soaking up the sun on the powdery white sands
  • bathing or snorkelling in the turquoise waters of the lagoon
  • lolling in a shaded hammock, swaying in the fragrant island breeze that gently sighs through the palm trees

Hammock slung between shady trees on a white sand beach

A hammock at Paradise Cove Resort. The perfect place for reading or maybe a somnolent snooze?

And, that’s just the arrival day!  You can do more of this on each of the seven days. Imagine your first full day:

  • Wake up to a tropical continental breakfast with yummy cereals, toasted breads, melt-in-your-mouth croissants, fresh juices and a platter of delicious tropical fruits. (Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or lactose free diets can be catered for)
  • After breakfast, relax and enjoy health-giving, stress-busting tai chi and qigong in a shady, thatched beach fare. You’ll be with a small group of other learners and led by a fully-qualified instructor. Yep, that’s me (Jocelyn Watkin)
  • The afternoon is free to:
    • Explore the island.
    • Chill out in the on-site swimming pool or the lagoon with its private coral beach.
    • Check out the fantastic snorkelling by wading into the soothing lagoon waters. Or, maybe you’ll want to take an exhilarating leap from the jetty?
    • Take a relaxing zzzz in your own deluxe villa with its delightful mix of Melanesian architecture and European style. Each villa is set in a lush tropical garden and there are just 10 villas in total to ensure peace and quiet.
    • Lounge with a good book under the palm trees while gently swaying in a hammock.
  • Late afternoon, you can saunter into the on-site bar and restaurant (The Nakamal) for a cool drink of deliciousness and lazily watch the sun go down.
  • You can choose to be on your own or in the company of like-minded others for the afternoons and evenings.
  • Delectable and scrumptious lunches, dinners and snacks can be purchased at the on-site Nakamal. Or, you can choose to prepare and cook your own meals in your own villa’s kitchenette, if you wish. (Please bring or buy your own ingredients).
  • After gazing at  sunsets and later millions of stars twinkling overhead, you can amble back to your comfy, private villa and sink into a blissful sleep, lulled by the soft whisper of the lagoon waters.

Sunset sky reflected in the calm waters of a tropical lagoon

Fabulous sunsets at Paradise Cove Resort

Sounds divine! Tell me more

This retreat is for you if you are any of the following:

  • Working or retired.
  • Are sick of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or at the end of your tether and want something to help that really works for you.
  • Curious about the stress relief and other health benefits of tai chi and qigong and want to sample these for yourself.

The Stress Less, Live Best Retreat is ideal for beginners as well as tai chi and/or qigong students who want to grow and develop their knowledge.

You need to be aged 18+ to participate.

What’s happening, when and where?

  • Sunday 10 May – Saturday 16 May 2020 (inclusive), at Vanuatu.
  • 7 glorious days/6 nights at the intimate Paradise Cove Resort, which has just five 1-bedroom and five 2-bedroom villas.
  • 4 sessions of health-giving qigong and tai chi in the mornings with a qualified instructor. Each session will be for 3 hours and numbers will be limited to a maximum of 14 participants.
  • Kia Ora Tai Chi has booked all of the accommodation villas so you’ll be in the company of like-minded others.
  • All of this is only a 3-hour flight from Auckland to Port Vila, Vanuatu.

 Prices (all in $NZ)

  • 1-bedroom villa: $2,900 per person, share twin.
  • 1-bedroom villa, single occupancy: $2,900 + $390 = $3,290
  • 2-bedroom villa: $3,290 per person, share twin
  • 2-bedroom villa, single occupancy: $3,290 + $390 = $3,680

 What is included in the price?

  • 1 economy return airfare from Auckland to Port Vila, Vanuatu.
  • Transfers to/from Paradise Cove Resort from/to Bauerfield International Airport, Port Vila, if travelling at the same time as everyone else in the tai chi group.
  • 6 nights’ accommodation in a luxurious villa at Paradise Cove Resort.
  • 6 luscious, tropical breakfasts at Paradise Cove Resort.
  • Four 3-hour group sessions of in-depth tai chi and qigong with a focus on how to reduce stress and live best. Small group (maximum of 14 participants).
  • Snorkelling gear, reef shoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.
  • Mountain bikes to explore the area.
  • Wi-Fi in the restaurant area at Paradise Cove Resort.

 Yes, I’m in. Sign me up

View from the shady trees and out over the turquoise lagoon

The fabulous Paradise Cove Resort

What is NOT included in the price?

  • All meals (other than breakfast at Paradise Cove Resort)
  • Note: Paradise Cove has a bar and restaurant on site (The Nakamal) where you can buy your own delicious lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks. The chefs aim for the best blend of Melanesian and Mediterranean cuisine. They can provide special dietary meals, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or lactose free. Should you want to prepare your own meals, you can bring your own ingredients or buy locally as there is a kitchenette in your villa. This has tea/coffee facilities, fridge, freezer, gas stove and a microwave.
  • Sunset drinks and all alcohol.
  • All other drinks (other than the juice that is served with breakfast)
  • Any additional activities and tours while in Vanuatu, including a possible group outing on Wednesday 13 May.
  • Personal travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Any Visitor Visa fees that apply:
    • If you travelling on a NZ, UK, EU or Australian passport (there are many other countries, too) then you don’t need a Visa for up to 30 days in Vanuatu. Check this list to find out whether citizens from your own country need a Visa.
    •  If you can’t see your own country in the above link or are not sure, then check this link for a list of countries whose citizens will require a Visitor Visa for Vanuatu:
  • All personal items, such as laundry, souvenirs and shopping, etc

I’m all good with that. I want to RSVP.

Comfy cane chairs and tables in an open-sided tropical, thatched-roof building

The Nakamal restaurant and bar at Paradise Cove Resort

What is Vanuatu like? Vanuatu is a string of island pearls glistening in the South Pacific. It is just over three hours flying from Auckland but years away from the stress of everyday life. The name Vanuatu means “Our Land Forever” in many of the local Melanesian languages. The capital, largest city and commercial centre is Port Vila, which is on the island of Éfaté.

Aerial view of turquoise lagoon waters with coral reef, white sandy beach and shady trees

Fantastic snorkelling at Paradise Cove Resort

What sort of paradise will we be staying at? Paradise Cove Resort is a lush tropical paradise on the South shore of Mele Bay, which is about 15 minutes drive from Port Vila. Your accommodation will be a self-contained, gloriously-private villa. The beach and fringing reef at the resort has a rich variety of marine life. This means fantastic snorkelling straight from the beach or off the jetty. The resort also has a swimming pool.

Weather in VanuatuIn May, the temperatures are balmy and range from 21 to 26°C, which will be a welcome relief from the rain and cold of wintry New Zealand. Should you need it, the villas have air conditioning in the bedrooms and a ceiling fan in main part of the villa.

 

Flights to/from Vanuatu: At this stage, only Air Vanuatu flies direct from Auckland to Port Vila. These are the flights we’ll be on:

  • Sunday 10 May: Leaving Auckland International Airport at 11.35am, arriving at Bauerfield International Airport, Port Vila, at 14.10
  • Saturday 16 May: Leaving Bauerfield International Airport (Port Vila) at 12.50pm, arriving Auckland International Airport at 16.55

Vanuatu sounds ‘vantastic’!  I’m ready to go.

More about the qigong and tai chi sessions on Vanuatu

Person doing tai chi on the beach at sunset. One hand appears to capture the sun just as it is setting.According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), everything in the universe is made by five elements: earth, metal, water, wood and fire. You will learn the 5-Element Qigong at this retreat. It appears simple but it is a powerful exercise and breathing programme that is especially effective improving health and managing stress.

“Qi” (pronounced ‘chee’) is the life energy inside a person that circulates throughout the body to provide inner strength and maintain good health. The word can also mean “life force”, “breath” or “oxygen”.  According to TCM, the stronger qi you have, the healthier and stronger you are.

“Gong” translates as “method”, “skill of” or “exercise”. Qigong is a skilled exercise which will help you to get more oxygen and life energy. It is based on the concept of balance and harmony and is especially beneficial for health, breathing and mental relaxation.

At the retreat, you will also learn a unique tai chi set of movements that are designed to relax, refresh and revitalise you.

The Chinese characters for the words ‘tai chi’ (or taiji) translate as ‘supreme ultimate’ exercise.  Often described as “moving meditation”tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines mental focus with deliberate and relaxed movements that are gentle on your joints.

The linked postures and steps of tai chi, along with deep breathing, are designed to improve your overall health, balance and fitness and can strengthen leg and core muscles.

Qigong and tai chi are natural exercises that are in harmony with nature. They are good for your body as well as your mind, and are helpful at reducing stress. There are no pills, no jabs and we don’t tell you what you can or can’t eat or drink.

This is what you’ll learn at the Stress Less and Live Best Retreat:

  • 5-Element Qigong, which is easy-to-learn and is especially effective for improving health and managing stress.
  • A proven Tai Chi for Health programme to help you learn how to relax, feel refreshed and revitalised.
  • How to breathe your way to better health.
  • How to calm your mind to relieve anxiety and worry.
  • How to use qigong and tai chi to reduce stress and live best once your return home.

 I need to Stress Less and Live Best.  Count me in.

A smiling woman in a red shirt, with her hands positioned in the tai chi welcome greeting

Jocelyn Watkin

About the retreat leader and instructor: Jocelyn Watkin is a fully qualified premier instructor for the Tai Chi for Health Institute.

She has organised and taught three tai chi and qigong weekend retreats in New Zealand in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She was the tour organiser/leader for two tai chi overseas trips from New Zealand to Vietnam (2012) and China (2015).

She is the founder, director and No.1 instructor of Kia Ora Tai Chi. She has trained in martial arts for over 21 years and has focussed solely on tai chi  and qigong since 2003 (Yang and Sun-styles of tai chi).

Jocelyn invites you to join her in paradise to learn specially-designed, stress-busting tai chi and qigong to help you to live calmer, stronger and healthier.

To find out more or to sign up for the Stress Less, Live Best Retreat in Vanuatu, please text Jocelyn: 0274939851. Or, you can use the contact form on the Kia Ora Tai Chi website: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/contact-us/.

“To be comfortable in the cold, keep moving; to be comfortable in the heat, hold still; to be comfortable in the world, stay calm and clear.”

(Extract from Chapter 34 of the “Dao de Jing” by Laozi (aka: “Tao te Ching” by Lao Tzu). Translated by Ursula K Le Guin.)

Woman slumped at a work desk with a dream cloud above her head of palm trees, sunshine and jandals

Stress relieving tai chi and qigong on a tropical island. Don’t just dream about it.

How to escape from the ‘No Sleep Club’

It’s a night club, but there’s no dancing or happiness. The ‘No Sleep Club’ is no fun at all. It feels like you are stuck at the Hotel California – “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. [Lyrics by The Eagles, 1977]

However, Dr Giresh Kanji has discovered five keys, any of which will open the door to the escape route.

After decades of research, literature searches and clinical trials, Dr Kanji identified the following activities (the keys) to escape insomnia. These also help with depression and anxiety, which are often closely related to insomnia:

  • Tai chi
  • Meditative breathing
  • Exercise that is at least slightly rigorous
  • Sauna
  • Yoga

There were no surprises for me to discover that tai chi is in the Top 5. Nearly all of my students (and me) comment on how much better they sleep after a tai chi class.

Note: not one of the five activities includes medication or hospital visits.

You don’t have to do all of the activities listed above, just pick one and get started. Fortunately, with tai chi you can win the trifecta as the first three activities listed above are packaged together when you learn tai chi. If you’re doing tai chi in our humid January and February weather, you might even get something close to sauna conditions, too. 🙂  Click here to try a special tai chi breathing exercise with me. It takes less than a minute to learn.

Find out more about why and how these five activities [habits] work by watching this TV interview with Dr Kanji. It is just under 5 minutes duration. Or you can clilck on this link: https://youtu.be/F8GIgJ3fM7M

Dr Kanji has written a book called: “Brain Connections: How to sleep better, worry less and feel happier” where he explores the role of childhood trauma, stress, and the links between stress-related symptoms and fatigue, concentration and dementia. He outlines the five habits [activities] that reduce the activity of the stress brain and improve insomnia, anxiety and depression. Click here to learn more about this book or to buy it.

Dr Kanji is a New Zealander and a graduate of the Otago Medical School. His is a musculoskeletal pain specialist and researcher. He explored the sensory amplification of pain in his PhD including the role of the human stress response.

Dr Giresh Kanji

He is an honorary Senior Lecturer at Auckland University, the chairperson of the NZ Pain Foundation and editor of Australasian Musculoskeletal Medicine. To find out more about him: https://gireshkanji.com/dr-giresh-kanji

Find out more:

New tai chi class to reduce stress and improve health

Photo of a heart with a stethoscope listening to it.If you want to get fitter without puffing, feel healthier and live stronger for longer, then tai chi can help you.

If this sounds like something you want then the team at Kia Ora Tai Chi would love to hear from you. We are looking for adults of any age and ability, who are keen to make a regular commitment to learning tai chi.

To find out if tai chi is for you, please come along to one or both of the free “taster sessions” on Monday 29th and Wednesday 31st July 2019, 6.30-7.15pm, in the Clayton Park School hall, Wattle Downs, Manurewa, Auckland 2013. Refer to map. Please note that the entrance to the hall and free parking is off Wattle Farm Road.

To RSVP or to ask questions about the classes, please use the Contact Form

After the free sessions, we encourage anyone who can attend AT LEAST once per week to enrol in a new tai chi class for beginners, which will start on Monday 5th and Wednesday 7th August 2019, 6.30 – 7.15pm, Clayton Park School hall.

Cost of classes: The classes on the 29th and 31st of July are FREE. After that, prices start from $9 per class. A discount is available for those who are referred by ACC and Age Concern for the Community Group Strength and Balance Exercise programme (“Live Stronger for Longer”). You must be aged 65+ to be referred.

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

Here at Kia Ora Tai Chi, we are all constantly amazed at the health improvements that our students tell us about once they attend our classes on a regular basis:

  • sleeping better at night
  • finding it easier to go up and down stairs
  • improved breathing, with less wheezing or feeling like they’ve ‘run out of breath’
  • playing with their children or grandchildren for longer without getting tired
  • lowering their high blood pressure
  • feeling more flexible and moving better with less aches and pains
  • better balance/less falls
  • feeling better all over and less stressed
  • toned muscles.
Zebra with stripes falling off. The zebra is saying "I think it is stress"

Learn how to reduce stress with tai chi

There have been hundreds of clinical studies over many years that confirm the health benefits of tai chi, especially for the Tai Chi for Health programmes that we teach at Kia Ora Tai Chi. You can read more about these clinical studies here.

One aspect consistent across all studies and trials is that none of these benefits happen overnight or after just one class. The trials take place over several weeks, sometimes several months, and the people being studied do tai chi at least 2 -3 times per week. 

Most of my students attend at least one class per week, often two, and several practice between each class.

We are now looking for a group of new beginners who accept that their health and well-being is worth a regular commitment to tai chi.

Find out more about Kia Ora Tai Chi classes, how to get to the venue, and what to expect.

Discover more health benefits from tai chi.

Want to know even more about tai chi? Click here

Please RSVP for the free classes on the 29th and 31st July by using the Contact Form. You are welcome to attend one one or both of these classes.

Come along and say kia ora. We’d love to see you. We’re a friendly bunch at a great venue that has lots of free parking.

Group of people doing tai chi. Some are seated while doing tai chi.

Kia Ora Tai Chi class in the Clayton Park School hall

Can tai chi cure the common cold?

Sick woman covered with a blanket lying in bed with high fever and a flu, blowing her nose. Pills and glass of water on the table

Sadly, there is no magic, instant cure for the common cold.

Depending on your immune system, plus how much time and rest you can give yourself, most people will overcome a cold virus in just over a week or so.

However, being aware of the risk factors of catching a cold and reducing those risks can help avoid or reduce the severity of a cold.

There are five broad risk factors:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Age
  • Season
  • Smoking

Tai chi can really help with the first three.

Sleep: Rest and getting enough sleep is vital for good health. Nearly everyone who attends my tai chi classes mentions how they always get a better night’s sleep after class. It’s not just the exercise that helps you to sleep. It’s also the calming effect of the deep breathing and the slow, smooth continuous movements of tai chi.

If you do get a cold or other illness, try to rest and sleep as much as possible as it will help with your recovery.

Stress: Relieving stress goes hand-in-hand with rest and a good night’s sleep in terms of helping to reduce the risk of catching a cold. Numerous studies and clinical trials have proven the tai chi can reduce stress

Studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh suggest that psychological stress can raise your risk of developing a cold. They suggest it affects how the stress hormone cortisol works. This hormone regulates inflammation in your body. When you’re under stress, cortisol may be less effective at managing your body’s inflammatory response to the cold virus. This may cause you to develop a cold. Read more about this

To minimise stress Carnegie Mellon University recommends a number of techniques, which include tai chi.  Discover these techniques

Click here to read an article I wrote on how to use tai chi breathing to bust stress in just a few minutes per day.

Age: Children and older people are more at risk of getting a cold. In children, this is because their immune systems are not fully developed. In older adults, it is because their immunity levels drop as part of the ageing process. Clinical trials have concluded that regular sessions of tai chi may boost the immune systems of older adults and could also help to improve the effectiveness of vaccines, including the ‘flu vaccine. You can read more about these trials here:

Season: Just because the weather is cold, doesn’t mean you’ll get a cold. However, you’ll probably spend more time indoors in the winter months and that means more ‘rubbing shoulders’ with other people. You can lower your risk with good hygiene like washing your hands and lower the risk to others by staying home when you are sick and covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.

Smoking: Smoking compromises your immunity levels and second-hand smoke can disrupt immunity in others. If you smoke, talk to your health professional about how to quit.

While some risk factors are hard to control, others can be managed. Regular practice of tai chi could lower your chances of catching a cold.

Read more about the risk factors for the common cold here

Related information: A cold fact: High stress can make you sick