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.

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.

Learn tai chi online, available 24/7

Woman smiling in red shirt with tai chi posters in the background

Jocelyn teaches you from her online tai chi studio

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could learn tai chi from me without having to leave home? Totally awesome and don’t just dream about it.

Vaccination for Covid-19 is not required as this course is completed online in your own space.

My new online course, called “Tai Chi for Strength, Balance and Mobility”, has received an enthusiastic thumbs up from participants who ‘test drove’ it.

It is now available so you can learn from me at any time that suits you, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and anywhere you have computer, tablet or mobile phone.

If you want to live stronger for longer with better strength, balance and mobility, please enroll using this link: https://navigatinghealthcare.co.nz/programs/#Tai-Chi-for-Strength-Balance-Mobility

This course has six modules, each designed to be comfortably completed within one week. However, you can take longer if you like. There are easy-to-read articles and how-to videos where I show you the movements step-by-step and share the secrets of tai chi. It will be like I am right there in your home with you.

I am a qualified, premier instructor for the Tai Chi for Health Institute. Find out why I can help you learn tai chi that is safe, easy-to-learn and effective: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/about-us/

The course is ideal for anyone who:

  • is worried about their balance or who wants to help a family member or friend to improve their balance.
  • wants to get fitter and stronger.
  • needs something that truly helps to manage and reduce stress.
  • would love a good night’s sleep.
  • is curious about tai chi and how it works for strength, balance and mobility.
  • is an instructor teaching tai chi for fall prevention or strength & balance classes

One participant said of the course: “The special breathing I learned has helped me de-stress and calm down. It feels like a weight off my chest and shoulders”.

Can you imagine how blissful it would be to fall into a deep slumber almost as soon as your head hits the pillow? During this course, you’ll learn calming meditative breathing that you can use anywhere and anytime you feel stressed or worried, especially just before you go to bed. Click here if you’re looking for sweet dreams

Wouldn’t it be a relief to help a friend or family member improve their balance so you no longer worry about them having a fall and getting hurt? It sure would. Click here to help that special someone to stand tall and with good balance.

How amazing would it be if you could live stronger for longer? Totally! You’ll have access to the videos and articles for at least six months so you can regularly practice and build more strength and balance. Click here if you want to become more mobile and for years longer.

Sabine, a qualified Tai Chi for Health instructor recommends this courseThank you Jocelyn, for a very enjoyable course. I loved the step-by-step approach and I could feel the improvement of my core strength, breathing and posture. Safety was top priority through the whole course and it was achieved with very clear and easy instructions. Overall, a wonderful experience.

All this and more with my new Tai Chi for Strength, Balance and Mobility course… and you won’t have to go out on a wintry wet night to learn it. You can participate in the privacy and warmth of your own home.

For just $99 you’ll receive:

  • The full online course of six sessions, with supporting articles and how-to learning videos, which are delivered to your email inbox once per week.
  • Additional resources of a practice journal and checklist.
  • Access to a client portal where you can ask questions and share experiences each week.

If you want to live stronger for longer with better strength, balance and mobility, please enroll using this link: https://navigatinghealthcare.co.nz/programs/#Tai-Chi-for-Strength-Balance-Mobility

Kia ora to free tai chi lessons 2018

Women and men as silhouettes doing tai chi.Please note: This is a post from 2018. 

Kia Ora Tai Chi lessons have now moved to the Manurewa South School hall on Totara Road, Manurewa. Please contact us to ask about current classes and venues.

Do you want to get fitter and healthier? Do you feel stressed or have trouble sleeping? Maybe you’d love to wave goodbye to aches and pains at the gym? If so, then say hello to Kia Ora Tai Chi.

Come along for FREE 45-minute tai chi lessons on Monday 12th and Wednesday 14th February 2018, 6.30 – 7.15pm, with Jocelyn Watkin, a qualified tai chi instructor, who has been practising tai chi for over 15 years. Adults of any age and high school students are all welcome. Scroll down for more information. To RSVP for the free lessons, contact Jocelyn: 027 493 9851 or use the Contact Form to get in touch.

After the free lessons, a beginners’ class will start at the same venue on Monday 19th and Wednesday 21st February, 6.30 – 7.15pm. Prices start from $9.50 per class. If you want to be fitter and healthier or reduce stress then tai chi is for you. It is suitable for adults of any age and fitness levels.

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.

Big red heart with stethoscope

Love your heart and health with tai chi

What to expect: The class will begin with a sequence of easy, flowing exercises which are low impact and gentle on your joints. Jocelyn and some of her students will then demonstrate the tai chi form so you can see what it looks like. After that, you can have a go for yourself and learn the first few steps. In just one class, you’ll be doing real tai chi.

Longer term, tai chi can help you to improve your fitness, health and balance, reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Your heart will love you for it. Tai chi is an ancient, Chinese martial art that involves mindful movements performed in a slow, focussed manner and accompanied by deep breathing.

Tai chi is suitable for adults of all ages and fitness levels. If you are unable to stand for very long, Jocelyn is also qualified to teach seated tai chi, which you can do alongside the rest of the class.

Dates/times/pricing: Monday and Wednesday evenings, 6.30 – 7.15pm, from $9.50 per class. Please get in touch with Jocelyn: 027 493 9851 or use the Contact Form to ask about current classes and venues..

 

For more information:

Say kia ora to a new direction with tai chi

Jocelyn in red hat and jacket, standing on the Gt Wall of China

Great Wall of China

What made me leave my tai chi school of nearly 14 years to become an instructor for the Tai Chi for Health Institute?

I had been stuck on a plateau for some time, due to the ‘one size fits all’ or ‘cookie cutter’ approach of my then tai chi school. I searched for more stimulation and development; I read books, trawled through the Internet and tried a couple of different tai chi schools. I even organised a tai chi tour to China in 2015 and climbed sacred Wudangshan (Wudang Mountain), the tūrangawaewae of tai chi (spiritual home and place to stand for all who feel connected to tai chi).

Other tai chi schools were iniitally helpful in my quest but they didn’t have what I was looking for long-term, or their type of tai chi aggravated an old injury I had.

On YouTube I discovered Dr Paul Lam, the founder and director of Tai Chi for Health Institute (TCHI). I was instantly struck by his openness, his formidable tai chi, his philosophy that tai chi is for everyone and the thorough medical research that he’d conducted to prove the health benefits of tai chi.

A quick search of the TCHI website revealed that one of his two master trainers for New Zealand, Tamara Bennett of Smiling Dragon Tai Chi & Qigong, offered classes at Pukekohe, only 25 minutes away from my home. I soon rocked up to her classes and was impressed.

As I am a qualified teacher for the New Zealand education system, I instantly spotted that Tamara understood teaching methodology and was following a lesson plan. This was the first time I had encountered this in my 20 years of learning martial arts. If someone is good at one skill (whether karate, tai chi, music, maths, cooking, etc) it doesn’t automatically follow that they’ll be good at teaching it. Teaching is an acquired skill that must be learned, just like any other skill. I found out later that Tamara was following the Stepwise Progressive Teaching Method, which had been devised and perfected by Dr Lam.

I was also blown away by her tai chi ability. Throughout my 14 years of tai chi, I had been told by my (now ex) instructors that people who teach it for the health benefits don’t do ‘proper’ tai chi. Well, this was ‘real’ tai chi alright. All of the essential tai chi principles were there in Tamara’s movements and form.

What’s more, she and her students were friendly and welcoming. The barriers I had previously encountered (my age, ethnicity and being female) were not held against me.

Very soon I was flourishing with TCHI’s mix of the Chen, Sun and Yang forms, especially the welcome addition of Qi Gong in the Sun style of tai chi. I loved the blend of Chinese and Western philosophy and medical knowledge. I knew that this was the tai chi school that I would like to be part of.

Jocelyn shaking hands, holding certificate with Tamara Bennett.

Tamara awarding my instructor certificates

I had not wanted to become a tai chi instructor until then. As a professional teacher, tai chi gave me a break from teaching. However, a career change meant that I was more open to become a tai chi instructor. When I discovered that TCHI had well-thought out and proven programme to teach instructors, I knew that I would take that path.

I am now a premier TCHI-Board Certified Instructor for four Tai Chi for Health Programmes (find out which ones here). I am also a member of the Tai Chi for Health Community in New Zealand.

I met Dr Paul Lam at recent instructor workshop. He is as genuine and open as he is on YouTube. His tai chi was even more formidable face-to-face than it is on YouTube.

Tamara and my fellow instructors encouraged me to start teaching my own classes. Two came along to my very first opening night to support me and, along with Tamara, they continue to be trusted colleagues that I can call on for advice. Thank you so much Tamara Bennett, Aria Tauroa and Ian Blaine.

A big ‘shout out’ to the Sunday Club guys, too. You know who you are. I could not have come this far without you so thanks for ‘being there’ for me.

I love teaching and I am able to incorporate all of my tai chi skills and knowledge, including from my wider martial arts and teaching background. My students come from all walks of life, are friendly and helpful with each other, and they all want to do well with their tai chi. I can see that they practice between classes and that’s pretty amazing when compared with my experience at other tai chi schools.

After being stuck on a plateau for so long I feel energised and excited about my tai chi and the future.  TCHI has been the right move because it offers:

  • A thorough teaching syllabus and proven teaching methodology, the Stepwise Progressive Teaching Method, which is backed up by teaching DVDs.
  • Medical research and case studies to prove the health benefits of tai chi.
  • Well-established Tai Chi for Health Programmes that maximise these health benefits.
  • A TCHI Board-Certification process to become a Tai Chi for Health Instructor.
  • Support from the NZ master trainers and fellow instructors (of TCHI) and through my membership of Tai Chi for Health Community in New Zealand.
  • Adherence to the essential tai chi principles, i.e. this is ‘real’ tai chi
  • A mix of the Chen, Sun and Yang tai chi styles, plus Qi Gong and meditation
  • Tai chi for everyone including making it accessible to as many as possible, particularly those less able or who have health issues.
  • Acceptance that people learn and move in different ways, according to their own style, body-shape, age, etc
  • An open, welcoming and safe environment where know-how is shared and questions encouraged.
  • Greater diversity and range of tai chi skills and knowledge, due to the acceptance that one person or ‘guru’ cannot know everything.
  • Opportunities to advance my own tai chi, including weapons training, whether I wanted to be an instructor or not. I.e. advanced students are not held back because they are not instructors.
  • Friendly people that know when to be serious about tai chi and also how to have fun with it.
  • The positivity and determination of Dr Paul Lam (the founder and director of TCHI) to ensure the above points and over-arching kaupapa (guiding principles and thinking) are embedded into everything that TCHI stands for.

Find out more:

Photos from Wudangshan (Mt Wudang), Hubei province, China:

Looking up at rocky mountain top with tiny-looking temple on the top

Jindian Temple at the summit of Wudang Mountain, 900 steps up

Looking across rocky mountain ranges

Mt Wudang summit (and the Jindian Temple) – view from the top

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