Fun with Bamboo

bamboo-kew

Bamboo, my new Master

My Tai Chi class concluded with a drawing of Bamboo. John explained that in China, bamboo is a very special thing. He used it to represent our Tai Chi learning. The knobbly bit represents the class, the long smooth section the practice.

Notice that the sprouts grow from the knobbly part. This is where creativity shoots from. The knobbly part is the lesson and also a relaxing period. The long stem is the work and practice section, this is where Tai Chi happens. In class we learn, but without practice it is meaningless. So my new mantra is practice, practice, practice with a little bit of learning every once in a while.

Standing like a tree

thames-kingston

I missed last week’s Tai Chi lesson. I took the car and got so flustered that I couldn’t find a parking space, I turned right round and went home. Yeah, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for my class.

I am a tree

Yesterday, I was a lot more calmer, and actually managed to park the car without swearing. My lack of practice had caused me concern, but then John told us a wonderful story as we practised the Wu Chi Posture. We held the position for about 10 -15 minutes, which is quite a large part of our one hour lesson. The rest of the lesson was not great, my lack of practice and missing last week’s class really showed as we progressed with learning the Tai Chi short form. However, I went home with a deeper understanding of the Wu Chi posture and am back on the right path…

You too could be a tree hugger

This standing still posture was kept secret for thousands of years, only released to the public domain comparatively recently. Here are some links that will get you embracing the tree.

Tai Chi Road Trip

lake-como

My Tai Chi practice has waned slightly over the last week or two. I haven’t rolled back to Mr Marlboro man or anything as silly like that. It’s just life throwing me new adventures to grasp onto which sometimes lets me lose my grip on my practice.

Tai Chi for Drivers

I had a wonderful challenge thrown at me last week; to drive across Europe to Italy in a transit van. This made a nice change from my usual computer screen view and was a great adventure. We drove non-stop (apart from the ferry) to Italy through France and into northern Italy. It was about 15 hours of driving from Calais to Lake Como. Luckily I had my iPod and Tai Chi for entertainment. Podcasts from Ricky Gervais and others helped keep my spirits up as did some cool music. There is no Tai Chi driving form available, but I have made my own up over the 5 years or so I have been practising Tai Chi. I sit up straight, suspended from the golden thread, relax my jaw, face, and try not to let any tension develop in my back and shoulders. I also have my arms gently curved in a nicely rounded shape, like the Wu Chi posture. Then I concentrate on my breathing (as well as the road).

Back to Blighty

After a day in Como, enjoying the most wonderful views and food (along with some heavy duty lifting), we headed back to England, leaving behind some wonderful scenery and some missed opportunities at doing Tai Chi in such a beautiful place.

No pain, no gain

kew-stones-zen

After another sweat infested sleep, I feel on top again this morning. Up at 5:30am and spent a good hour playing Chi Kung and Tai Chi. My latest favourite trick is the standing still pose. I managed 10 minutes today, I could have done quite a bit more too. This seems to be having good effects on my twisted body, and it is very rewarding when one finds a new area of pain and then feel it dissolving. Imaging my tired and locked muscles finally untwining and releasing. In this way I am finding where my blockages are which then I can release and allow my Chi to flow nicely. I suppose my ultimate goal is to get back to my child like body. No tension, maximum flexibility and full of energy.

Say hello, wave good bye

One trick I am finding useful comes from Louise Hay, where when you notice a pain, thank your body for sharing this with you and then gently let it go. So maybe no pain, no gain is useful after-all?

Bugs in the machine

richmond-park-car

Yesterday was my first day back to reality after spending 4 days sweating out a horrible bug. I missed my Brother’s birthday celebrations and all food for 3 days. It is the first time in my life I ever remember smelling bad too. I am sure my close friends will disagee with the last statement, but man, I stunk. Even after bathing, I could smell it coming out of my pores.

Keep on Moving

My friend Stu suggested movement as a means of getting rid of my bad moods, and yesterday I tried it out. My 3rd Tai Chi lesson, was the most strenuous yet. I am enjoying the challenge of holding some of the positions, for periods at a time too. Ok this is Chi Kung, but to my mind it’s all the same thing. These prolonged postures are very good for us, and chatting to other members of the class, before it began today it would seem that they too are seeing remarkable benefits from these classes. The Chi Kung body slaps are a good wake up too, better than coffee.

Sing a song

John also introduced us to some more healing sounds too, which I am extremely excited about. I am very interested in the power of healing audio. I was so excited that I have now forgotten, which sound heals what part… It goes something like this:
Strike the Wu Chi pose, then take a deep breath and as you exhale make a noise for as long as you can. “Heeee” is good for your brain (I think! I’ll double check this next week), “Ahhhhh” is good for something else. Next week, I will try and remember the full list!

Too many Fingers

Highlight of my illness was watching the fabulous “Too Many Crooks” on TV. An absolute classic with Terry-Thomas at his devilish best, take a look at the cast – Billy Gordon …… Terry-Thomas, Fingers …… George Cole, Lucy …… Brenda De Banzie, Snowdrop …… Bernard Bresslaw, Sid …… Sidney James, Whisper …… Joe Melia. Made in 1959 (which was a great year for Gibson Les Pauls, but not too hot for Tibet) in Pinewood, it is a truly wonderful film, and proof that laughter is a great medicine.

Tibet, Where art thou?

Potala Palace

After downloading the new Mac version of Google Earth, I was interested to look up Tibet. Couldn’t find it. “Lhasa Tibet”, “Tibet China” – no joy. “Lasa China” found what I was looking for, well it’s a place mark anyway. No real info though, hidden by Google to appease the Chinese authorities I suspect.

Tibet, Where art thou?

Help is at hand though. Thanks to the Google Earth Community though, I managed to find Tibet. I think it’s sad that Google of all companies had to bow to China’s search engine filtering requests and to compromising Google Earh too. Microsoft and Yahoo had already conceded to China, but I thought Google could take the right stance on this.

Lhasa, can you hear me?

If you are in Tibet, The former autonomous region of Tibet, Beijing or any where else in China, did you find this web-site/post ok? I would love to correspond with people from Tibet or China to find out how restricted information is on the Chinese Super Information Highway. Inquiring minds would love to know… Free Tibet?

Wu Chi

Kew Gardens

I have been a bit grumpy again, didn’t bother to go to my new Yoga class yesterday, still not smoking though. So with a sort of heavy heart I approached my second Tai Chi lesson at the North Kingston centre.

Practice makes perfect

Fortunately my lack of gusto was soon dissolved by the gentle exercises of the Chi Kung ‘warm-up’ movements. The class environment always seems to give me the focus and discipline that I lack at home. The strange thing is that most of the movements are almost effort less.

Wu Chi Posture

John went to some length today about the Wu Chi posture. In a nutshell, feet shoulder width apart, slight bend to the knees, and a nice oval shape to your arms as they hang to your side. He also went on to demonstrate another move, similar to the Wu Chi but with your arms in front of you as if holding a beach ball. We held this position for about 5 minutes, at times this felt a lot longer. John said that the old Tai Chi masters would make their students hold this position for as long as they can. To use the bodies discomfort as a guide to any blockages. This is a great way to let go of any tension, and is one of the ‘higher’ postures too, so it really is good stuff.

Tai Chi in your life

We also were encouraged to carry our Tai Chi practice with us through the day. Sitting at my computer I am conscious of my posture, my feet are flat on the floor and I am completely grounded, dropped shoulders and deep breaths help put a little bit of Tai Chi into my computer work.

Computer Posture article