Breathing For Longevity

Breathing For Longevity is the title of our 3rd video on breathing. As well as the info that is specific for longevity this video will build and expand a bit on the information on the first two videos. I have included a guided breathing series that is worth the price of the whole set all by itself. I have personally gained a lot of benefit and been able to become a much better internal practitioner due to working with this breathing practice. I find that it really helps you to find and release tension from your body as well as helping you to get a better sense of the internal aspects of your body.

One of the great daily benefits that you can quickly obtain from this practice is to get so used to finding and releasing tension that it becomes a normal habit to do it. You will be surprised at how much more energy you will have at the end of the day when you are not carrying an excessive amount of tension and can relax more during stressful activities such as driving in heavy traffic.

Due to the topic of this video being longevity I have included a lot of specific longevity practices including Marrow Washing as well as Wu Chi and the Energy Ball test. There is also information on aligning the body energy through brushing the body, tapping the body and body bouncing.

Body bouncing really helps you to regularly practice the release of stress and there are some recent medical studies that indicate that this kind of stress release is extremely natural and beneficial in a variety of ways. I tend to notice that however I was feeling before I start the body bouncing I immediately and noticeably feel better after practicing. There is an energy buzz that you get from this practice that is deep, profound and very cool.

On this video I have also included a section on using Breath & Energy Movement with Grand Tai Chi and Carry the Cauldron to balance and store energy. I also spend some time discussing the importance of connecting the upper and lower body as well as how to connect the upper and lower body. Upper and lower body connection is extremely important for real power and for high quality Energy Connection & energy Flow. Most people are disconnected at the waist and have a difficult time getting the connection to happen usually due to postural habits that are not noticeable unless you have a teacher pointing them out to you. Any time that you can get with me for a private lesson or even a group workshop ask me to take a look at your upper and lower body connection. Over the last couple of years I have made adjustments to many 20year + practitioners and the difference it makes to their personal practice is almost always immediately noticeable.

Click here for more on the Breathing for Longevity DVD.

Breathing for Cardiovascular Health

Breathing for Cardiovascular Health is the topic of my 2nd video on breath and breathing. I have nicknamed the program Body SPARKS. SPARKS stands for – Stimulating Power by Adding Respiration to Kinetic Strength. It is a Natural Strength & Power workout without weights.

In our society Cardiovascular Health has come to be publicly defined by cardio training which has come to mean jumping around and getting your heart rate up but that it is only a small part of the cardiovascular health story. There is a lot more to it.

I will start by writing a bit about body inflammation. Body inflammation is a major cause of health problems in those over the age of 40 and is increasingly being found in those well under the age of 40. This includes thickening / clogging of the arteries that leads to heart attacks and strokes etc. and is a major Cardiovascular Health problem.

The exercises on this video are exercises to reduce body inflammation and they will also help you to sidestep osteoporosis by building & maintaining bone & muscle mass. This of course is one aspect of what proper Tai Chi training is doing for you long term as well.

In our video on this we are demonstrating some very specific stretches. Proper Stretching will instantly gain you at least 10% more power and can gain you as much as a 300% increase in power. However, be careful, Improper stretching can rob you of power. The stretching exercises shown on this video are Natural Body Flow Stretches. Natural Body Flow Stretching and moving is the best kind of stretching for more overall body health and power. Of course we also use Bagua stretches and exercises to achieve these results but we only recommend those to folks who are actively engaged in the our martial arts programs as these exercises are quite a bit more sophisticated and take a lot more time and dedication to learn.

There is a way that you can practice some of this with your Tai Chi. Pick one of the Tai Chi moves such as Cloud Hands and make sure practice it 12x in a row without interruption. Make sure that your body weight is sunk so that you get the bone maintenance and building of muscle mass benefits and extend your range of motion enough so that you get a gentle but noticeable stretch in your entire upper body and arms from your performance of the movement.

We do spend a bit of time on this video working on proper form for basic exercises. The lessons contained within are also excellent for those working on the internal martial arts including Tai Chi as the basic essential elements of posture, relaxation, movement and breathing apply and are covered in some detail.

Click here to purchase the DVD.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise

Simple Method to begin Diaphragmatic Breathing

First to recap from the last post and cover our legal bases:

You may experience light-headedness, headache or other similar symptoms when trying abdominal breathing – if you do – stop practicing the breathing method(s) for now and consult a health care professional before continuing as this could be a sign of a serious medical issue that can readily be addressed by proper medical care but if left untreated could be quite serious.

Starting proper breath work

When starting proper breath work it the idea is to learn how to breathe so that you always diaphragmatically breathe as your normal state without having to think about it anymore. This will take some practice to achieve but the health benefits are well worth it.

This and much more will be covered in our Diaphragmatic Breathing Video.

  1. Exhale “all” of your air out of your mouth to a count of 8 while pushing in with your belly
  2. Then breathe in through your nose and fill all the way back up with air to the count of 4 while letting your belly expand.
  3. When done properly you should feel like the air is rushing from your nose strait into your belly and there should be very little movement in your chest.
  4. Now that you have felt diaphragmatic breathing simply relax and continue to belly breathe in & out from your nose.

Other items covered on our Diaphragmatic Breathing video include:

  • Breathing with Exercises
  • Some Guided Breathing & Relaxation Exercises
  • Rapid Relaxation Techniques To release tension & stress
  • More advanced Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises
  • Maximizing the benefits of abdominal breathing
  • & More

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic Breathing is a simple key to true health that can be utilized by most people. I was once told by Dr Wu that Diaphragmatic Breathing commonly referred to in the Chinese arts as lower abdominal breathing or belly breathing was the legendary ancient Chinese health secret.

In truth all breathing is Diaphragmatic Breathing and so although the practice of good lower abdominal breathing or belly breathing is referred to as Diaphragmatic Breathing in Western medicine unfortunately it is no more medically accurate than is belly breathing. I say this because although we focus on our lower abdomen or belly to breathe deeply and correctly we still actually breathe in and out from our lungs and not in and out from our belly in the performance of this type of breathing.

The problem is that most folks as they get older breather higher and higher up in their lungs and I am told that most folks breathe from the very top of their lungs and often from the throat just before they die. Babies and young healthy people when they sleep breathe from low down in their lungs and their bellies rise and fall as they breathe. Many of my Chinese teachers when speaking to me or others about lower abdominal breathing ask the question would you rather breathe like a baby full of life or like an old person who is at death’s door. The obvious answer for anyone who is interested in improving their health is to breathe like a baby with the whole body and with noticeable movement in and out from the belly.

Shallow, chest breathing results in less oxygen transfer to the blood and subsequent poor delivery of nutrients to the tissues which eventually causes poor health and premature death.

Using and learning proper breathing techniques is one of the most beneficial things that can be done for both short and long term physical and emotional health.

Some of the benefits of abdominal diaphragmatic breathing are:

  • Boosts energy levels
  • Improves stamina
  • Decreased heart rate and lower blood pressure
  • Increases blood flow and supply of oxygen to every cell in the body including the heart, brain, other organs and musculature.
  • Improves cellular regeneration
  • Better Elimination of body toxins
  • Increase in immune system cells
  • Promotes healing
  • Strengthens resistance to disease
  • Improves Stamina & performance
  • Activation of the relaxation response
  • Relief of tension and shutting off of stress hormones
  • Greater relaxation & conservation of energy
  • Helps relieve headaches and anxiety disorders
  • Helps Bring body and mind into harmony
  • Ability to achieve peace of mind
  • Increase of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain to elevate moods and combat physical pain

Caution! You may experience light-headedness, headache or other similar symptoms when trying abdominal breathing – if you do – stop practicing the breathing method(s) for now and consult a health care professional before continuing as this could be a sign of a serious medical issue that can readily be addressed by proper medical care but if left untreated could be quite serious.

Starting proper breath work
When starting proper breath work it may take a little bit but the real idea here is to learn how to breathe so that you always diaphragmatically breathe as your normal state without having to think about it anymore.

We have a 3 video series on breathwork beginning with Diaphragmatic Breathing that is available now.

Tai Chi & Coronary Artery Disease

Here’s a new study that shows the effects of Tai Chi rehabilitation on heart rate responses in patients with coronary artery disease.

“In conclusion, participating in a six-month Tai Chi exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation program was associated with improved peak RPP and RPP reserve during exercise testing in patients with CAD. Tai Chi exercise program may lead to a better prognosis for cardiac events in patients with CAD.”

Click Here to see the study.

The difference between Healthy Tai Chi & Fighting Tai Chi

Recently it has come to my attention that there is a distinction being made here in the USA regarding a so called difference between Tai Chi for Health and Tai Chi for Self Defense.

Having studied for the last 30 years from over half a dozen senior Tai Chi masters and directly from 2 different original Tai Chi family lineages (Yang and Wu styles) including Wu style family members who are the world heads for Tai Chi I must admit that at first I found this very confusing.

When you ask any senior Tai Chi master about the “difference” between Tai Chi for health and Tai Chi for self defense you either get a funny look or a fairly excited answer about the current sad state of affairs and that there is no difference between Tai Chi for health and Tai Chi for self defense.

Tai Chi is Tai Chi.

There is No difference between the Tai Chi that is healthy and the Tai Chi that is for fighting / self defense.

Of course there are a lot of “so called” Tai Chi teachers in America today who would like the public to think that these things are different.

Why? The unfortunate and simple answer is that so many of the folks who are teaching Tai Chi only for health got their Tai Chi certification in a weekend workshop and the only way that they can try to compete in the market place with someone who actually knows Tai Chi is to try to say that those who have more knowledge and information are somehow teaching something different.

tai chi for fighting

What Is The Difference?

Hopefully, this begs the question concerning what exactly is Tai Chi for health and what is Tai Chi for self defense?

For one, the moves themselves are the same.

However, I have found that more often than not those who practice Tai Chi just for health do not understand the moves they are practicing.

Secondly, the specific types of jing expression practiced are the same also.

Unfortunately, I have found that most who claim to practice just for health do not even know what jing is, how it is practiced and how it is healthy for you let alone understanding it in a martial sense.

The real bad news here is that the jing expressions are truly what makes Tai Chi such an incredible health practice.

tai chi for health and fighting

The Biggest Problem

The biggest problem I have found is that there is a gross ignorance and great misunderstanding about what Tai Chi is and how it works by the medical community in this country and unfortunately the weekend and two weeks or less certifications (in that order) are the common standard accepted in most Western medical settings.

Often, evidence based Tai Chi is used to determine if a type or form of Tai Chi should be accepted and used in a medical setting.

But, at least one crucial factor is often overlooked.

When a senior master’s specific Tai Chi method is used in a medical study and the master himself is the teacher then he or she brings their many years of knowledge into that setting with them.

This almost always includes a deep knowledge of Tai Chi including the fighting self defense aspects of the art.

Then, when they certify someone who in turn certifies others in one weekend workshops where the form is learned and the certification is given in the same weekend then the result is most often that most of the new teachers do not have the knowledge, ability or skill to actually achieve the result or anything resembling the result that the senior teacher achieved in the medical study that was performed.

There are specific structural and internal aspects to the moves and expressions in Tai Chi that are every bit as important to the Tai Chi for health benefits as they are for fighting / self defense.

The Answer

How does someone who learned and (“knows?”) the Tai Chi only for health learn these structural and internal aspects?

From having had interaction and conversations with many folks who are currently certified in only these very short weekend Tai Chi for health type courses I can say that to date I have not met one who actually understands enough about Tai Chi to impart the benefits without having obtained a lot more education than most are willing to ever seek out and get.

tai chi is tai chi

The answer to the how to learn the specific structural and internal aspects of the Tai Chi is that the teacher must learn from someone who understands the structural and internal workings of the Tai Chi.

Teachers who really understand the structure and internal workings of the Tai Chi also know the self defense aspects of the Tai Chi because without the structural and internal aspects of Tai Chi the Tai Chi does not work for self defense either.

When learning the self defense aspects from a qualified teacher the postures and internal aspects are tested and refined so that the proper application of Tai Chi power is present.

This does not have to be learned or practiced in a hard, fast and fierce manner so those who do not want to practice fighting do not have to be put into uncomfortable situations or anything like that.

But, the structural training alone will make such a huge difference in the quality of the Tai Chi practice and the health benefits of that Tai Chi practice that it will change the art in its entirety compared to the expression taught by someone who is “teaching” Tai Chi without this knowledge.

This is part of the reason why our Level 1 Tai Chi material takes several months to complete.

A person can easily learn the moves of our 8 move set in a weekend.

The rest of the study time required to actually test for our method is spent learning various Tai Chi structure, breathing, methods, jin expressions and applications of the 8 moves so that the student actually learns the Tai Chi for health as a result of understanding how the internal aspects of the moves are performed for health as well as for self defense.

tai chi for self defense

In Conclusion

Tai Chi for health is the same as the Tai Chi for self defense because the movement alignment, structure, breathing and jings are the same for health as they are for self defense even though these skills will often be applied specific to the task at hand which requires an educated understanding.

Don’t just take my word for it. Ask any real Tai Chi teacher and they will tell you the same.

The Good News

The good news is that if you are actively reading this blog then you are most likely working to educate yourself and progressing in your Tai Chi which means you are a benefit to your students and community.

If there is any way that I can help you please feel free to contact me and I will do what I can.

The so called Tai Chi teacher with less than 1 week total in Tai Chi training who is now the medical Tai Chi go to person in your community is an unfortunate reality in much of America today.

I am committed to helping to change the public misunderstanding of this wonderful art that we practice before it disintegrates into a flowery looking set of choreography with no substance or benefit and no more real teachers can be found.

Please join me in this fight before it is too late.

Tai Chi Eases Arthritis Pain

A Tufts University School of Medicine study demonstrated evidence based results that Tai Chi Eases Osteoarthritis Pain in older adults. The study participants practiced Tai Chi for 12 weeks. During the study they practiced for an hour twice a week.

Over the 12-week study period, Tai Chi was also observed to be equally effective as aerobic exercise in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

They also conducted a longitudinal, prospective study comparing two-year trends in cardiorespiratory function of a group of elderly Tai Chi practitioners with an age-matched, sedentary control group. Their results suggest that Tai Chi may delay the decrease in aerobic capacity usually found with aging.

They also conducted a cross-sectional, case-controlled study to evaluate the health benefits of long-term, geriatric Tai Chi practitioners. Cycle ergometry revealed that peak oxygen uptake was greater for Tai Chi practitioners compared to age-matched sedentary subjects.

No adverse effects related to the short- or long-term practice of Tai Chi were reported in any of these studies.

Body Bouncing & Shaking

Body Bouncing and Shaking is a very simple and effective way to relieve stress and release energy blockages from your body and mind. Best done while standing, the trick is to relax as much as possible and initiate the movement from your feet. Allow the vibration to go all of the way through you and let it release everywhere. You may find that one or another of places in your body are tense and do not shake and bounce with the rest of your body. Do the practice of body bouncing and shaking until the tension is released and is expressed out of your body everywhere.

Not only does Body Bouncing and Shaking release physical, mental and emotional stress thereby helping you to relax it can also be aerobic and strengthen and improve your balance. Body Bouncing and Shaking can loosen joints, increase flexibility, burn calories and raise metabolism. The practice will also typically lubricate your joints and get your circulation going.

dog-tai-chiIt is really helpful to laugh and have a good time while body bouncing and shaking. At first the vibration may just be external but with a little time and practice you can make the vibration internal. Practice body bouncing and shaking for a few minutes and when you stop stay relaxed and feel the buzz of the energy flow through and around you.

I learned Body Bouncing and Shaking over 15 years ago from a Chi Kung Master in Shanghai China. Two years ago I found out that it is now known that most animals from deer to elephants shake dozens of times a day to clear away the effects of trauma and stress.

Body Bouncing and Shaking is an excellent and simple way to alleviate stress and remove energy blockages from your body.

Photos by: Bert Heymans & Ol.v!er

Wu Chi (Wuji)

Why should you stand in Wu Chi (Wuji) before performing your Tai Chi set?

Wu Chi is the first standing posture before you begin the physical movement in most Tai Chi styles and forms.

Properly standing in Wu Chi helps to train the basic physical structure and alignments of the body while activating the energy.

The Wu Chi alignments are made prior to starting your Tai Chi moves and then the Wu Chi physical and energetic alignments are supposed to be maintained while you practice your Tai Chi set.

Wu Chi (Wuji) translates as No action Energy.

The “Wu” No action refers to the fact that there is no external physical movement while you are standing in Wu Chi.

The “Chi” or energy refers to the fact that the energy is activated even though there is no physical movement.

Together Wu Chi refers to the idea that the energy is activated and moving even though there is no physical motion.

Benefits of Wu Chi

  • Standing in Wu Chi is designed to build Chi energy and to internally circulate Chi energy.
  • Proper Wu Chi Physical Alignment from head to toe specifically benefits you by aligning your spinal column. This Improves Respiratory and Vascular Circulation.
  • Wu Chi alignment in the body also Improves Oxygen flow to all of the cells of the body.
  • Wu Chi Enhances Proper Nervous System Function and Combats Neuropathy (loss of nerve function and feeling).
  • Properly standing in Wu Chi Alleviates Arthritis and Arthritis symptoms due to the the flow of Chi energy heating up the synovial fluid between the joints.
  • Wu Chi Enhances Mental Concentration and Focus as you stand there and relax with your mind quiet and calm while the energy flows due to the proper Wu Chi physical and energetic alignments.
  • Wu Chi Facilitates Recovery and healing time by helping you to relax the Internal Organs and the External Muscles while building and circulating the energy

To learn the 10 essential steps to proper Wu Chi practice click here or you can check out my book: Chi Energy: Activation, Cultivation and Flow and the accompanying DVD.

Documenting Tai Chi Health Benefits 3

Another pertaining issue that I have been mulling over is that I have specifically learned how to practice the Tai Chi to achieve most of these health benefits from Chinese masters both here in the US and in mainland China. These teachers have often stated these Tai Chi Documented Health Benefits work and as far as these masters are concerned, they know that this is true in a particular region or area and often in all of China.

So, if a specific kind of Tai Chi is practiced for longevity and those who practice it are well known for living into their late 90’s and early 100’s making this a Tai Chi Documented Health Benefit then it seems that this could be labeled as Tai Chi for Longevity. However no study has been done in the states to verify this statement. So, how can I legally make such a claim in the title of the DVD explaining this method? I am sure there is a way to go about it but I do want to make sure that I am legally on solid ground.

Part of the solution for us is that here at Clear’s Tai Chi we are currently hard at work to get a study going on the positive effects and medical benefits of Clear’s Tai Chi so that we can present our own documented health benefits as found in a legitimate US medical study. We are interested in receiving any input or feedback on this that would be helpful for publicly promoting the medical benefits right now and that will help us to get a study going or listing currently known Documented Tai Chi Health Benefits.

to be continued…