What To Expect
In our Tai Chi classes we will be performing simple movements to help you reconnect with your body, feel where you have tightness and restrictions, and begin to soften and release them.
We always work to the Tai Chi principal of only doing things to 70% of your ability, so you shouldn’t feel stressed or as though you’re creating additional tension within your body. We in the West have had the ‘giving 100%’ mentality drilled into us, but that’s not the way Tai Chi is done, by only using 70% of your energy you always have a 30% reserve and over time, how much energy and ability you have will steadily increase. Imagine your aim was to travel as much distance as you could: You could give it 100% and sprint! But you’d probably crash out and stop before too long. If instead, you jogged, only using 70% of your energy, you could easily travel much further.
Qigong and Tai Chi Foundation Classes
At the start of the class we work through all the joints of the body, encouraging flexibility, relaxation and reconnection. Having sensitivity, movement and feedback in our feet especially is so important as we get older; if your feet feel like one solid block on the bottom of your legs, it’s going to become harder and harder to feel when you’re starting to lose your balance.
We then move on to our alignment and basic movements, where we perform simple movements that help us to feel where our bodies are out of alignment. Do you hold yourself with a twist in the hips, or with more weight on one leg than the other? Are you shoulders hunched up? We will all have many areas of tightness and imbalance, so don’t worry! The point here is not to discover who has the most relaxed or tense body, but to find and feel those areas within ourselves. The simple movements we perform softly open and relax your body, allowing you to regain feeling in those tight areas, and in order to release it you must first be able to feel it.
The next section is standing and dissolving. By this point your mind and body should feel both relaxed and alive at the same time, you will feel more connected to your body than you were when you walked in and it’s at this time that we stand in our proper alignments and send our minds within our body, slowly tracing down from head to toe, allowing our awareness to settle on any tightness or tension we find and softly relax and release as best we can. This can often feel like the subtlest part of the class, yet it often has the most impact over time.
The last part of the class is where we focus on our static Qigong forms. We will learning Cloud Hands, The Marriage of Heaven & Earth, and The Willow Tree form. Over the years I’ve found that teaching beginners these Qigong forms has helped then immensely when we move on to the moving Wu Style Tai Chi Short Form. In the Qigong forms we don’t move our feet, we remain rooted to the ground, but the movements still incorporate the whole body. Once this form has begun to settle within our bodies, the more complex task of keeping all our alignments together as we start to move around the room becomes much easier.
Wu Style Tai Chi Short Form
We still start the class with movements that open the body and joints, as with the Qigong and Tai Chi Foundation class, as this is a really important part of learning both Qigong and Tai Chi. The benefits of performing these opening movements are huge, especially when in the beginning stages of learning and will have a great impact on not only your form, but also your whole body.
We then practice standing and dissolving as in the Qigong and Tai Chi Foundation class. As with the opening movements, this practice of standing and dissolving is a really important aspect of learning Tai Chi or Qigong. It allows you to feel within your body and detect the tightness or blockages that exist, whilst subtly encouraging your body to relax and release but still maintain a strong structure.
The rest of the class is then focused on the Tai Chi form. The Wu Style short form comes from the Taoist Water Tradition and was created by the last two Lineage Grand Masters of Wu Style Tai Chi specifically for people who live in Western society. It contains all the internal and energetic movements and components of the long form, which can take nearly an hour to complete, but can be done in around 5 minutes. It can still take a lifetime to master, but the benefits continuously grow throughout time. Where the Wu Style really shines compared to other Tai Chi forms is in its healing abilities, the flow of the movements lend themselves to building health and vitality with ease. It is also especially good for back pain.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
Loose, comfortable clothing, simple as that. My preference is to be barefoot as it allows much more sensitivity and movement and most students do the same, but if you wish to wear shoes, socks, sandals or even welly boots you’re more than welcome. The only time I personally wear footwear when practicing Tai Chi is if the floor is cold or wet, in which case flat soled shoes are generally best.
Bring some water if you wish, but I will always bring some loose leaf green or oolong tea along for any and all to enjoy.
Join Our Classes
6 week terms for £48 – beginners welcome