Kia ora to a better back

Cartoon of a spine with a New Year hat on top.

No need to wait until New Year to take good care of your spine. You can do this now.

Bad backs are one of the most common reasons for doctors’ visits and missed work days. So, when your back is being a pain can tai chi help?

Yes, tai chi exercise has been proven to be a safe and effective intervention to reduce pain in those with persistent low back pain. Find out more about this research and discover the five ways tai chi can help you get back to better health with your spine:

  1. Proper body alignment
  2. Good posture / recognising the neutral spine position
  3. Build core stabilization
  4. Avoid certain body positions and movements
  5. Practice the four tai chi principles

Check out the details of these key five points here.

Understanding how your spine works and practicing the five key points (as above) are the essence of good spine health. Tai chi can help you to make the right moves and to reduce back pain. Practice tai chi every day, if you can. Don’t wait for New Year to make this happen. Like nature, we are happier and healthier when balanced and in harmony all of the time, not just once per year.

Take good care of your spine and it will take good care of you. Soon, you too could say kia ora (hello) to a better back.

Photo of an elephant standng on a man's back

It’s best to avoid certain body positions and movements



Kia ora to more energy

Two hands holding a glowing energy ballEnergy – we all want more!  Tai chi is the only exercise I know that seems to give you energy or at least makes you feel more energised.

Good energy levels are strongly connected with good breathing, which is a key component in tai chi.

Of course, without breath there is no life. You’ve probably heard that old tai chi joke: Student asks: “Master, what is the secret of a long life?” Master replies: “Keep breathing for as long as you can.”

I’ve recently upgraded my instructor qualifications to include Tai Chi for Energy.  This programme was created by Dr Paul Lam of the Tai Chi for Health Institute by combining the movements of two different tai chi styles, Chen and Sun:

  • Chen style is vigorous and complex, combining fast and slow movements with powerful spiralling, seemingly elastic force.
  • Sun style incorporates unique qigong (life energy) movements with agile stepping.

Together, these two contrasting styles enhance energy flows, which can relax, refresh and revitalise. As such, Tai Chi for Energy can help to improve your health and wellness, internal energy, and the ability to manage stress. This form is a natural sequel of Tai Chi for Rehabilitation (which I’m also qualified to teach).

I look forward to teaching my students this exciting and energising tai chi form.

Find out more:

Three smiling women, one in the middle holding a certifcate

Jocelyn Watkin (centre) was awarded the Tai Chi for Energy Instructor qualification by Master Trainers Janet Cromb (left) and Tamara Bennett (right)

Better tai chi: magic or practice?

Women in witches hat and with want pointing to stars

Wish you had a magic wand?

Do you wish you had a magic wand so you could be better at tai chi? Do you believe that your lack of coordination will hold you back or that you’re not ‘naturally gifted’?

The truth is out – you don’t have to be genius or gifted at all. And, you don’t need magic, either.  It turns out that what our mothers always said is actually right: Practice makes us better.

Picture of the book with a big red tick on the cover

“Bounce” by Matthew Syed

I’ve been reading a great book on this topic by three-times Commonwealth table-tennis champion, Matthew Syed. Matthew explores what it takes to be successful in sport (and in life) in his book: Bounce: the myth of talent and the power of practice  He proves that effort and sustained purposeful practice brings excellence.

So, how do you practice ‘purposely’? Here are some ideas:

  1. Set a regular tai chi practice time each day. It doesn’t matter what time of the day, just do it when it is the BEST time for you. If you have arthritis or are stiff, you will know when your joints are their best.
  2. Make a start, even if you only have a few minutes at that time. 5 minutes is better than nothing, as long as you warm up. 10 minutes is better than five. 20 minutes is ideal.  It is better to practice every day than to have longer tai chi workouts for only two or three times a week.
  3. Start with the warm-up exercises or the Qi Gong breathing exercises.

Some students tell me they don’t like to practice in case they get it wrong. Here are more ideas to help:

  1. Everyone is different: age, body shape and some may have health issues or injuries. There are many different ways to do tai chi and never one perfect way.
  2. After the warm-up, do the tai chi form or moves you know best. Go over these several times and for as long as you as you feel comfortable. If you feel any pain, please stop immediately.
  3. Follow the essential tai chi principles:
  4. Follow along with a teaching DVD such as Tai Chi for Arthritis by Dr Paul Lam.
  5. Prepare questions to ask your teacher the next time you attend a class.

Bright yellow round badges with messages like "Good Work", smiley faces and thumbs up


Remember, it is about effort – not talent (nor magic). Practice will help you to say Kia Ora (Hello) to better tai chi.




Find out more:

Woman in a witches hat and clothing pointing to a star with her wand

No need to wish upon a star to be better at tai chi