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.

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. 🙂

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

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

Tai chi calms and grows your brain

Watering can pouring water onto a head and the brain is sprouting new, green leavesYour brain while meditating – calm, clear and confident. Your brain doing tai chi – calm, clear, and confident. This is no coincidence. Even my newer students notice how the more experienced students ‘get in the zone’ when doing tai chi. They want that, too. Don’t we all??

Ah, mawhitiwhiti iti (little grasshoppers), the key is in the breathing. With tai chi you learn how to match your breath with your movements.

I’ve dug out a great article to help you understand how it works:

“… Both tai chi and mindfulness meditation focus your attention on the breath. That single focus may help your brain make lasting changes that impact the way you see (and cope) with things.

Research has found that both tai chi and meditation have a powerful effect on the mind, cultivating a stillness that serves to increase focus, reduce stress, and boost cognitive skills.”  Read on

Wait there’s more! This research has also shown that tai chi can train your brain and improve your life in three ways. This is because tai chi:

  • grows the size of your brain, even when you are no longer a child (or even young)
  • improves your memory and ability to stay focussed
  • shakes off stress.

Keep practising and you too will enter the zone. Click here to discover more about this research into tai chi.

Free World Tai Chi & Qigong Day 

Come along to the FREE World Tai Chi & Qigong Day in Cornwall park. You’ll learn easy, flowing steps of tai chi and the deep, healthy breathing of qigong (pronounced chee – gong).

Free, fun, family-friendly and ideal for all age groups. Complete beginners welcome.

When: Saturday 27 April 2019, 9.30 – 11.30am (The tai chi starts at 10am). (Rain date: Saturday 4 May)

Where: Cornwall Park, on the Big Lawn (Native Arboretum), near the large stone steps (called the Memorial Steps, which face Greenlane Road). There is free parking in the park.

A big, green grassy area in a park surrounded by trees

The Big Lawn (Native Arboretum),

How to get to Cornwall Park: Click on this link: http://cornwallpark.co.nz/visitor-info The main entrance to the park is from Greenlane Road West, Epsom, Auckland. Alternatively, you can get to Cornwall Park from Manukau Road, Epsom, by passing through Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill Domain.

Tens of thousands of people in 100’s of cities across the planet celebrate the wonder that is tai chi on the last Saturday in April at 10am local time. It is a world-wide wave of goodwill – a global tai chi whānau, breathing together as one. The event’s motto is, “One World – One Breath”

Join in with Kia Ora Tai Chi to be the first country in the world to start this celebration. All welcome, especially those who have never done tai chi before.

What to expect: At 10am, Jocelyn Watkin (founder and director of Kia Ora Tai Chi) and her team of instructors will begin with a sequence of easy, flowing, warm-up exercises which are low impact and gentle on your joints.

Then, they will guide you through a Tai Chi for Health form – a series of linked postures and steps, accompanied by deep breathing that will energise and give you a lift. In just under one hour you’ll be doing REAL tai chi. It’s easy, fun and really great exercise.

Gather from 9:30 am onwards and be ready to say Kia ora to tai chi at 10am.

Find out more:

People doint tai chi on green grass with lots of trees around them

Summer tai chi with Kia Ora Tai Chi in Cornwall Park   (January 2019)

Free tai chi at Cornwall Park’s “Park Life” event


Kia Ora Tai Chi has partnered with Cornwall Park to offer four FREE tai chi lessons at their Park Life event, which will be held on Saturday 30 March, 11am – 4pm.  (If wet, the event will be held on Saturday 6 April).

The tai chi sessions will be:

  • 11 – 11.45am: Tai chi for beginners – Learn easy, flowing steps of this ancient Chinese martial art. Low impact, fun, family-friendly and ideal for all age groups. (Note: This will be the same tai chi that we taught at the “Summer Tai Chi in Cornwall Park” sessions.)
  • 12 – 12.45pm: Yang-style tai chi – Join in to do the 24-step and combined 42-step forms.  It is fun to watch or jump in and have a go in the spirit of “Let’s play tai chi together”.
  • 2 – 2.45pm: Tai chi as moving meditation – Learn how to relax and de-stress with special tai chi movements. Once learned you can do these anytime, anywhere. Gentle on your joints and ideal for beginners of all ages.
  • 3 – 3.45pm: Tai chi for beginners – Learn easy, flowing steps of this ancient Chinese martial art. Low impact, fun, family-friendly and ideal for all age groups. (Note: This will be a repeat of the 11 – 11.45am session.)

Location: Same as for “Summer Tai Chi in Cornwall Park”. Under the big trees on the left-hand-side of Pohutukawa Drive (as you come up from Greenlane Road). Look for the tai chi signs and the Kia Ora Tai Chi team wearing red shirts.

What to wear:

  • Comfy clothes and shoes
  • A sun hat, sun block and insect repellent
  • Bring a sweatshirt or jacket in case of cool weather. Please bring a water bottle, too.

No need to RSVP. Just come along and join in with your friends and family. A big thank you to the Cornwall Park Trust Board for funding these sessions so everyone can enjoy learning tai chi for free.


Get that summery feeling back with tai chi in Cornwall Park

More about Park Life
This is a free event celebrating nature, exploration and all the things you can experience in the park, which will be closed for motorised traffic.  With no cars, you will be able to freely roam the 425 acres of land while discovering activities, games, performances, food and more that will be spread throughout the park!

When: Saturday 30 March, 11am – 4pm

Bring your friends, whānau, a picnic, and your walking shoes for a free fun-filled day in the park.

Find out more: