New beginners class to love your heart and health Feb 2021

Yin and Yang symbol with heartsThis is a post from February 2021.

Here’s your chance to fall in love with tai chi and qigong. Your heart and health will thank you you for it.

If you want to feel healthier, live stronger for longer and get fitter without puffing, then tai chi and qigong can help you.

The team at Kia Ora Tai Chi are looking for adults of any age and ability, who are keen to make a regular commitment to their health. Come along to learn tai chi and qigong in our new classes for beginners . You can join any time up to (and including) Wednesday 10 March 2021, 6.30 – 7.15pm. Please arrive no later than 6.25pm.

We will be in the Manurewa South School hall, on Totara Road Manurewa, Auckland 2102 (refer to the map further below). Please note that the entrance to the hall and free parking is off Totara Road, which is a different street to the main entrance to the school.

If you’d like to try tai chi, there’ll be a warm welcome at one of the free introductory sessions on Monday 22nd and Wednesday 24th February, 6.30 – 7.15pm.

If you miss the introductory sessions in February, you are still welcome to join the February beginners up until Wednesday 10 March 2021. Your first class is free. After 10 March, anyone who hasn’t already joined the beginners class will need to wait until the next intake. The date is still to be confirmed but is likely to be July 2021 and/or February 2022.

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

After the free classes, you will be encouraged to attend two nights per week on an ongoing basis. However, if you are committed to practicing between classes then it is OK to attend just one class per week. Learning tai chi and qigong takes time but you if keen to gain all of the health, wellbeing and fitness benefits then this investment in your future good health will be worth it.

Yin and Yang with smiling faceHere 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
  • feeling better all over and less stressed
  • improved breathing, with less wheezing or feeling like they’ve ‘run out of breath’
  • finding it easier to go up and down stairs
  • 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
  • toned muscles.

The map below shows you where to find us. Please note that the entrance to the Manurewa South School hall and the free parking is at 18 Totara Road (please don’t go to the main entrance to the school, which is on another street). Please aim to arrive no later than 6.25pm.

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

Cost of classes: Your first class is FREE. After that, prices start from $9.50 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.

 

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Zebra with stripes falling of it due to stress

Learn to de-stress with tai chi and qiqog

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. 

Kia Ora Tai Chi students attend at least one class per week, often two, and several practice between each class. Improving your health, fitness and balance 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.

Red heart with a stethoscope

Love your heart and your health with tai chi and qigong

Want to know even more about tai chi? Click here

Please RSVP for a free beginner’s class up until (and including) Wednesday 10th March by using the Contact Form or text or phone Jocelyn Watkin on 027 493 9851.

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.

Better breathing, better life

Breathing – we all do it automatically: approximately 18 times per minute, 1,080 times per hour and nearly 26,000 times in a 24-hour day. You would have thought we’d got it down to a fine art?

But, what if I told you that most of us could do this breathing thing a lot better? And, by better I mean having more more energy, less anxiety, better sleep, less stress, a better posture with less back ache, and that it was a way you could quickly calm your mind when it is revved up. Of course, you don’t have to do this type of breathing for all of those 26,000 breaths. Instead, you can try it for just for a minute or two and for 2-3 times per day – it could make a huge difference in your life and health.

Tai chi is an ancient, Chinese exercise programme and martial art that involves a series of movements performed in a mindful, focussed manner and accompanied by deep breathing.

You don’t have to know tai chi to learn tai chi breathing. I can show you how to do this so you can breathe your way to better health. You will be able do this anywhere, anytime at home, at work and even on a bus or train.

Let me show you how in this short, 3-minute video.

What happens when we don’t breathe properly? Journalist, James Nestor, and a friend decided to try it for just two weeks. He said on Radio NZ National this week, “We knew it wasn’t going to be fun, but we didn’t know it was going to be a bad as it was. Within a few hours my blood pressure shot up about 20 points. That night I start snoring and I had not snored before.”

Check out the RadioNZ broadcast with James Nestor in this link.

I’ve also written about WHY tai chi breathing is so good for you and how it can help you to bust stress in just a few minutes per day. Click here to find out.

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:

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.

How to bust stress in just a few minutes per day

“This tai chi breathing is like a drug”, one of my students said.

“In what way?” I asked.

“It is fast acting, enjoyable and like taking both an ‘upper’ and ‘downer’ together.”

I didn’t want to delve into his drug taking history at that point. Instead, I asked him to describe the effect tai chi breathing had on him.

“When I’m tired or down, it lifts me. When I’m over-hyped and stressed, it calms me. When I do it, I feel very satisfied.”

Tai chi and tai chi breathing is satisfying. It’s considered a ‘wonder drug’ to manage stress, as it can give you the gift of balance and harmony.

So, how does it work? Firstly, we need to get our heads around what stress is and what it does to us.

Stress can be a good thing

It is a biological necessity. Back in the ‘dawn of time’ survival stress was our saviour – flooding our bodies with hormones and energy so we could fight or take flight. This was great stuff for a chance encounter with a sabre-tooth tiger or when hunting mammoths.

However, most of us can now get our protein on demand at the supermarket. Our need for survival stress has declined but, unlike the mammoths, it has not become extinct. It’s there whenever we need it, which is a good thing as danger still lurks in the 21st Century. We could still have a chance encounter with a Reliant Sabre or other speeding car as we cross a busy street. If so, our ‘flight’ reactions to leap out of the way will be life saving.

When stress goes bad

‘Bad stress’ grips you into a strangle hold when you work too hard and for over-extended periods of time – whether at work, home or school. Examples are: constant long hours on the job, noise, crowding, worry, having to rush, meet impossible deadlines and respond to constant demands, all with not enough time for rest, sleep and relaxation.

This kind of stress fools your body to think it is under attack, so it tries to be helpful by changing to a state of readiness. This is not harmless like switching your mobile phone to ‘flight mode’. Instead, your setting for flight (and fight) causes your body to release a rush of hormones and chemicals, such as adrenaline and cortisol, and divert blood to where it is needed, like your muscles.This is what is called the sympathetic nervous system in action, which makes you breathe faster with a pounding heart. Your body needs this for ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ and a healthy person easily copes with it in occasional bursts.

When stress happens constantly, such as every day and for most of the day, you might not be panting for breath. But, a tsunami of hormones and chemicals are still rampaging through your body, some are raising your sugar and blood pressure levels, so to be ready for flight (or fight). Your other functions, such as digestion and brain activity, suffer as they get less blood to work. If you can’t balance this over-reacting sympathetic nervous system then, even if you have good health, the ‘trolls’ start taking over: indigestion, diabetes, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, migraine, anxiety, exhaustion …etc

Enter the cavalry, the parasympathetic nervous system and it tries to right the imbalance. This is sometimes called the ‘rest and digest system’ or ‘the relaxation response”. It has a calming effect by slowing the heart rate and the breathing. It also increases digestion and relaxes the internal muscles to help stop those anxious ‘butterflies’ in your stomach and that gut-churning feeling in your abdomen.

 

But due to the over-stimulated sympathetic nervous system, more help is usually needed.

And then a hero comes along… no, not Mariah Carey … but tai chi.

Tai chi is an ancient, Chinese martial art and exercise that involves a series of movements performed in a mindful, focussed manner and accompanied by deep breathing. Some see it as a meditation, some as a good exercise you do in the park, others as an easy way to relax.

The slow, continuous, gentle movements of tai chi, the deep abdominal breathing and the tranquil mind further activate and support the parasympathetic nervous system. This is why tai chi lifts you up when you’re down or tired and calms you when you’re hyper. It helps your body to return to a balanced state, which is sometimes called the Yin and Yang effect

Tai chi is not an ‘upper’ or a ‘downer’ and nor is it like taking both together, even if some people interpret it as that. It is suitable for all ages and gentle on your joints.

Dr Paul Lam of the Tai Chi for Health Institute says, “Tai chi is based on nature. Its gentle flowing movements contain an inner power which strengthens the body and mind. Those who practice tai chi become like a tree or river, calm on the outside, but full of internal strength, more capable of withstanding whatever life may throw their way“.

Just 4-6 minutes of tai chi or tai chi breathing per day can make a big difference to your health and fitness. You can do this anywhere, anytime. A regular, daily set-time is good to build your strength (both body and mind) and to help quell the ‘trolls’. More is better, of course. Make a start by doing tai chi or tai chi breathing every day, even if you have limited time or ability.

Want to try tai chi breathing right now? Try this short tai chi breathing exercise to reduce stress with Jocelyn Watkin. You can do this while seated or standing at home, in the workplace or elsewhere.

As well as your daily sessions, you can also do extra tai chi or tai chi breathing whenever you need it. You don’t need to rush to the gym or park and nor do you need to find a quiet, dark space. You can do tai chi right where you happen to be. You don’t need special clothes, fancy shoes or expensive equipment and you can do it indoors or outside. It is ‘like a drug’ but there are ‘no nasty chemicals’ or bad side effects.

Tai chi makes you feel like a hero lives within you

Dr Lam says, “Hour for hour, practising a Tai Chi for Health programme is probably the most effective exercise to improve health and wellbeing. You can start and continue to progress to higher levels no matter what your age or physical condition”.

Tai chi and tai chi breathing will give you a quiet, inner strength that helps you to take back control of your life. It will make you feel that a hero definitely lives within you.

By Jocelyn Watkin, 2017 ©. Jocelyn has trained in martial arts for over 20 years and has focussed solely on tai chi since 2003. She is a board-certified, premier instructor for the Tai Chi for Health Institute. You can find out more about her here.

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Want to know more about how tai chi can help you to bust stress, get fit and feel better about life, the universe and everything? Say kia ora (hello) to my monthly e-newsletter, which has more tai chi well-being and fitness revelations, plus ideas and inspiration to boost that hero within you.

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