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 total1,352 participants.
Special thanks to Barry, Juliana and Pauline for your valuable help as co-instructors in the park.
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!
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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.
All welcome to a special and fun series of SpinPoi classes with Jocelyn of Kia Ora Tai Chi.Thursday mornings, from 27th October to 1st December 2022, 11.45am to 12.30pm.
You’ll swing along with easy-to-learn poi movements set to music and finish with tranquil and peaceful tai chi. This is a fun exercise with a qualified instructor, which will boost fitness, strength, balance and well-being.
Attend just one class or come to them all.
Limited number of poi available. Bring your own pair of poi, if you have a set.
Venue: The Wharekai Room, Te Matariki Clendon Community Centre, 17 Palmers Road, Clendon Park, Manurewa, Auckland 2103.
Cost: $5 per person, per class
Ideal for: Seniors and beginners of any age and ability. You can do this seated, if you wish.
No need to RSVP, just come along. All welcome.
Questions? Please phone or text Jocelyn on 027 493 9851 or use the Contact Form
What is SpinPoi: It is a fun and scientifically-proven way to keep your mind and body happy: https://spinpoi.com/
Candlelight tai chi and qigong is back by popular demand in May 2022. It comes with optionalextra sessions of restorative journaling.
Wouldn’t it feel great to have a dimmer switch for stress? Imagine the relief to be able to dial down your stress levels just as you would with a harsh light? Absolutely! With healing, candlelit tai chi and qigong, you’ll learn how to slow down, let go of anxiety and sink into deep relaxation with gentle movements. It will be just like having your very own dimmer switch.
What is restorative journaling?
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a magic wand to re-write how you feel about your past and draw out a future you envision? Definitely, we’d all like a wand like that.
With restorative journaling to relieve and reduce stress, your pen becomes your magic wand to:
reflect on your past, whether years ago or just yesterday and to consider how you respond to stress (this session will be held online on Thursday 12 May at 7.30pm)
contemplate your future and how to reduce stress in the time ahead (this session will be held online on Thursday 19 May at 7.30pm).
At both sessions you can draw or do mind mapping if you prefer that over writing. Any of these or a combination of them can help you to process and understand what is happening in your life. This makes it easier to make the right changes for less stress in the future.
We’ve all been through difficult and challenging times over the last two years. Journaling can help you to let go of all that stress and frustration and consider the future life you now want.
Combined with meditative breathing (qigong) to calm and settle your mind, journaling becomes even more restorative. By releasing tension in both your body and your mind you can focus more easily, which helps you to think more clearly on what you want for the future.
I offer three different guided sessions online on consecutive Thursday nights in May 2022, for this complete restorative and healing experience. All sessions involve gentle and effective movement, tailored breathing exercises, relaxation and mindfulness practices. In addition, the two journaling sessions offer you the chance to ‘wave your magic wand’ with restorative journaling.
Choose one, two or all three sessions, which you attend live and online from your own home. Replays will be available.
Thursday 5 May 2022, evening, 7.30 – 8.30pm: Candlelight tai chi and qigong (This session has now finished. A replay is available at $10. Please contact me to request this)
Let your senses soften in the candlelight so you can slow down and relax your mind and muscles. You’ll feel your stress melt away with the gentle and restorative movements of tai chi and qigong. Your breath will become slower and deeper during this guided session of relaxation and meditation. Wear your pyjamas if you wish. Once we finish, you’ll be tranquil and ready for bed and a rejuvenating night of sleep
Thursday 12 May 2022, evening, 7.30 – 8.30pm: Restorative journaling, part 1 (Please RSVP by 6pm on Wed 11 May)
Release tension and relax from the ‘busy-ness’ of your life with meditative and mindful breathing (qigong), which will help open your heart and mind. I’ll then guide you on a reflective, journaling odyssey that will enhance your understanding of what is happening in your life. You will observe and note your thoughts and reactions by writing, drawing, doodling and/or mind mapping– whatever feels the most comfortable to you. There is no critique or judgement at any time and you will not be required to share what you have noted.
Thursday 19 May 2022, evening, 7.30 – 8.30pm, Restorative journaling, part 2 (Please RSVP by 6pm on Wed 18 May)
Soothe your mind and body with meditative, mindful breathing (qigong) to create an open-hearted space of discovery. You’ll then continue Part 2 of your guided, journaling odyssey with me. You’ll be exploring your thoughts, feelings and sensations of what you want for your future self.
As with Part 1, you will observe and note your thoughts and reactions by writing, drawing, doodling and/or mind mapping – whatever feels the most comfortable to you. There is no critique or judgement at any time and you will not be required to share what you have noted.
Cost per session
Attend one session: $20 per person
Attend two sessions: $17.50 per person, per session (i.e. $35 per person for both sessions)
Request a recorded replay of any session: $10 per person, per session ($30 per person if you request replays for all three sessions)
Online (video) replays for each session will be available at no extra charge to those who attend that session, which you can re-watch as often as you want, whenever you want.
How to RSVP
Please contact meno later than 6pm on the Wednesday before each session to arrange payment (online banking or PayPal) and to receive the Zoom link(s) to attend your selected sessions. You can get in touch using the contact form on my website, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone/text me on 027 493 9851
More about me (Jocelyn Watkin)
I am qualified tai chi and qigong instructor. During lockdowns at various times in the last two years, I perfected techniques for teaching online. Participants comment that my lessons have helped them to cope with life and lockdowns as they feel relaxed and calm afterwards, which relieves stress and helps them to sleep.
I learned about the power of journaling when struggling with post traumatic stress some years ago. Fortunately, I was able to get professional help at that time, which included restorative journaling. With that and health-boosting tai chi, I was able to make a full and long-lasting recovery.
Testimonial: “Jocelyn is very relatable because quite often what was being taught had been used by her in real life.”(Participant at a tai chi, qigong and journaling mini-retreat, March 2022)
I am a qualified journalist and also a board-certified and premier instructor for the international Tai Chi for Health Institute. I founded Kia Ora Tai Chi so I could teach others about the healing health benefits of tai chi and qigong.
Click here to find out more about me, my experience and qualifications.
Join me at Auckland’s awesome Stardome for a fully immersive tai chi, qigong and restorative journaling mini-retreat. If you’re ready to open your heart to the universe and embrace the life you really want then this out-of-this-world mini retreat will be a magical experience.
At this mini-retreat on Friday 17 June 2022 (during Matariki), you’ll learn how to navigate yourself into a new orbit where you have more time to do the things you love with the people you love? Start the countdown to this experience here: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/matatiki-magic/
Watch this short video to discover more about the Matariki Magic mini-retreat on Friday 17 June.
Love your health, love your heart, love life, love tai chi