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My July post is going to be brief.  It's just too hot and impossible  for in depth post-making.   So,  a very short note which may give you some pause.  There's the  phrase in t'ai chi,  "fighting based on softness."   In today's world, this may be more metaphor than prescription  How many of us need to physically fend off enemies, or prepare for battle?  I hope its very very few!

 (though we still have a military mindset in this country,  that's based. on literal heavy artillery.  We're in the mindset in this particular moment in our nation history particularly that we have to fight aggression with physical aggression but that's probably a digression)   

So,  the point to maybe meditate on.  Why does fighting have to be hard?   Why does one need to combat ones enemy with force?  The idea of fighting aggression with softness.  It's quite something isn't it?

stay cool...

 And,  hey let's bring this thought to the LOU REED TAI CHI DAY.  …
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One health benefit of t'aichi and qi gong

I'm passing along a well-researched newsletter, published every few months by one of my former teachers,  Dr. Yang.

He is a true scholar of the research that is being conducted on the effects and benefits of taiji and qi gong.   Indeed he holds a Ph.D in kinesiology and has become versed in how and why t'aichi works to improve our overall health and sense of well being.  And he drilled us in "Santi" floor work.  So if you ever wonder why you're standing and practicing santi over and over,  fretting over your foot placement,  you have Dr. Yang to thank!

The current newsletter includes a particularly interesting  study on the effect of t'aiji on the condition known as COPD,  a lung impairment, which causes intense difficulty breathing.

Passing it along for your information.

best wishes,


SOMOS_a health fair where Qi Gong was on the menu

I was honored to be invited to present examples of Qi Gong to an audience of New York City's Hispanic and Chinese-American communities.    It was sponsored by the non-profit SOMOS, an interesting forward thinking collective of MDs seeking to improve healthy life style and outcomes for the poorer residents of our community.    

At the end of a scrumptious vegan lunch,  I took the floor and invited everyone to stand up next to their tables  and learn the basic posture, and more.  I was surprised that the most avid participants was a sizable group of children!

They caught on like lightening,  unlocking their joints as instructed and grasping my exhortations to ,  experience the contrasting yin and yang in their bodies.    And of course a few adults dared to stand up and try it too.  

A serious question:  Is there a t'ai chi exercise for when you're on hold with tech support?

We've all been there.  It's the chore that you probably put behind cleaning out the fridge or changing the sheets.  You maybe procrastinate.

But you know,  on all levels, that you can't really put it off too long.  You really need the use of your printer/cellphone/cable TV.  The "it will wait" conversation with yourself won't be believable.  You need help.

So you take the plunge.  And right at the get-go, you're probably placed on hold.  You may be subjected to a form of modern muzak.  To protect yourself, you put your phone on speaker mode and attempt to pay some bills. Then someone -- after perhaps 15 minutes -- answers the phone.  A real human human being, albeit following a tightly written script.  But you're thrilled.  And you begin.  You're blithely pressing this button or that,  as per the tech rep's instructions, and then, after nothi…

some final thoughts about posture

Children playing,  automatically find that relaxed and alert posture.  How do we
get back there?  As an adult,  it will take conscious attention, thinking about it, and silently asking those top neck vertebrae to align themselves in an upright stack.

                              I try whenever I can remember to practice the tall, lifted head, when I'm walking
the dog,  or just walking...whenever I think of it.

Can a t'ai chi posture win out over the i-phone?

Again, at the risk or being repetitive, class, let me remind you,
"Imagine a long thread arising from the crown of your head and running up to the sky. "  and adding something to the effect that this is the position your head should take in taiji.  It should rise up from your spine and sit regally at the top of the last vertebra ,  aspiring to literally great heights.

I must say something along these lines once every class.   And no-one minds.  Necks for a moment seem to straighten and extend a little bit,  eyes gazing calmly straight ahead,  yet  within the next few minutes, or less,  they scrunch back down.   The eyes follow,  seeming to search the floor as the student tries to get the foot in the right position for the next move.    We joke -- is there an uneven floorboard, or even a dangerous crevasse you might fall into?  (The floors in my studio at Spoke the Hub are  those sprung wood dance floors with nary a speck of dust btw)

And then we  all smile in self-recognitio…

ruminations on posture

Standing with head gently erect, eyes straight ahead.  Why is it so hard?   
Wherever you take a t’ai chi class,  from whichever teacher in whatever town or village in the world, you will hear at some point,  imagine a long thread,  stretching from the crown of your head, to the sky.    it’s almost always something I say at the beginning of each class (after all the other postural instructions, starting from the feet).     
it’s quite an image,  though,  your crown attached umbilically to the heavens,  and we may struggle a bit trying to visualize it, let alone to enact, and then to stay like this throughout the one hour class!   Don’t feel discouraged.    I tell my class that it’s probably the hardest part of the pose and the form — keeping your eyes focused ahead, your head relaxed on the stem of your neck.   

A teaching:   Hawkes, my erstwhile teacher, would tell us,  
you can kill with your eyes!
You can't though if your eyes are cast down, searching the floor.  Kill with your eyes…