Health and Massage Summer Course 2018

Anmo, Health & Massage Week

Monday 13th August – Friday 17th August 2018

The Knut, St Just Plen An Gwarry, Cornwall.

10am-5pm

‘Anmo’ or Chinese Massage is based upon entirely different concepts and principles to the kind of massage and therapy which we are commonly familiar with in the West.

The course consists in a programme of practical work with partners under the supervision of a teacher to practise and learn the basic massage techniques. There will also be daily seminars about the basic concepts of Chinese medicine as outlined below. The course is essential for anyone who is interested in taking their T’ai Chi onto an advanced level, but is also suitable for anyone who is looking at alternative ways to aid the bodies defences and ability to regenerate itself and recover from diseases as well as build a stronger immune system.

Even Western anatomy and physiology is fundamentally different to the theory of Chinese Medicine because the Chinese view of the internal organs was not developed from dissection of dead bodies. The Chinese theory of internal organs or ‘Zang Fu’ 脏腑 was developed from research and studies conducted by Taoists from early times and is based upon the flow of energy around the body which interconnects the organs according to a series of natural functions which is unique to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Each organ is not just an anatomical unit but also includes an energy meridian or channel and is linked to other functions in the body including emotions.

Massage.

Over this five day course you will spend each day learning one of the ten basic massage techniques which are designed to stimulate or sedate the flow of life-force or ‘Chi’ around the body.

Diagnosis.

We will also be looking at diagnosis methods based on the system ‘the five methods of examination’: asking, looking, touch, listening and smelling. This is a traditional method based around the five elements and the five senses, and involves a variety of ways to observe the illness and get better feedback before proceeding with treatments including pulse examination.

Treatments.

We will be looking at some typical examples of ways to treat common diseases based on the following principles:

  1. Chang Ming or Taoist Long Life diet is a time tested approach to nutrition which has been researched by Taoist Masters since before recorded history. The diet is highly effective in boosting the store of ‘Chi’ or life-force within the body and is based around the Taoist principles of respect for Nature. This means eating natural foods which are unprocessed and avoiding any chemical additives and colourings etc as well as cutting down on red meat and dairy products.
  2. Herbs are a large part of Chinese Medicine and thousands of herbs have been catalogued over the centuries, each herb can have varying yin or yang effects. We concentrate on Chinese herbs that also grow in the west following the Taoist principle of using locally grown natural medicines.
  3. Meridian massage. Located throughout the body are special pathways through which the life-force flows including eight special meridians which act as storage vessels similar to the streams, rivers and reservoirs which irrigate the landscape. The meridian massage can be used to stimulate or sedate the flow of energy depending on the elemental imbalance and is also a good way to open up the channels to free blockages and improve the smooth flowing of Chi just like the way sap flows in a tree.
  4. Breathing exercises: Deep breathing is essential for stimulating the production of Chi in the lower abdomen but there are also many specific exercises which can not only help with the process of Chi cultivation but also to help build the immune system to prevent a variety of specific common diseases.
  5. Contact thermogenesis: Moxa or Ginger Compress is similar to acupuncture but uses heat to stimulate the energy, the body fluids and the regeneration of body tissues. It is very good for removing stagnation in the system and helps to focus the repair process for example with bruising or injuries.

Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Locating the meridians.

We will be learning practical exercises to help us locating the eight extra meridians as well as the ten organ meridians in the body and their associated important energy centres and points related to acupressure.

Understanding the five elements theory.

To begin with we will be having a look at how the five elements are related to the way energy is balanced between the internal organs as well as relating this to emotional as well as physical factors of disease.

Understanding the eight principles of disease classification.

Eight principles is a major form of disease classification used in modern Chinese medicine to differentiate syndromes according to Yin or Yang factors.

Autumn term 2017 Tai Chi classes in West Cornwall

Penzance Tai Chi club
Term starts Tuesday 5th September.
Tai Chi is from 7:30-9pm, the teacher is Justin Knight.

At Penzance club we also have self defence classes from 6-7:30pm, the teacher is Rachel Simpson.
Feng Shou Kung Fu is a soft style of self defence suitable for both men and women of any age or level of ability.

Heartlands Tai Chi club
Heartlands club term starts 6th September.

Health and massage summer course

tai chi dance warmup - summer massage course at Boswedden House

The Health and Massage Summer Course will be at Boswedden House from

Monday 10th – Friday 14th August 2015

Bring a towel to lie on and some massage oil. Diseases we will be looking at this week include Osteo-arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.

We will be looking at some typical examples of ways to treat common diseases based on the following principles:

  1. Diet: Chang Ming or Taoist Long Life diet is a time tested approach to nutrition which has been researched by Taoist Masters since before recorded history. The diet is highly effective in boosting the store of ‘Chi’ or life-force within the body and is based around the Taoist principles of respect for Nature. This means eating natural foods which are unprocessed and avoiding any chemical additives and colourings etc as well as cutting down on red meat and dairy products.
  2. Herbal therapy: Herbs are a large part of Chinese Medicine and thousands of herbs have been catalogued over the centuries, each herb can have varying yin or yang effects. We concentrate on Chinese herbs that also grow in the west following the Taoist principle of using locally grown natural medicines.
  3. Meridian massage: Located throughout the body are special pathways through which the life-force flows including eight special meridians which act as storage vessels similar to the streams, rivers and reservoirs which irrigate the landscape. The meridian massage can be used to stimulate or sedate the flow of energy depending on the elemental imbalance and is also a good way to open up the channels to free blockages and improve the smooth flowing of Chi just like the way sap flows in a tree.
  4. Breathing exercises: Deep breathing is essential for stimulating the production of Chi in the lower abdomen but there are also many specific exercises which can not only help with the process of Chi cultivation but also to help build the immune system to prevent a variety of specific common diseases.
  5. Contact thermogenesis: Moxa or Ginger Compress is similar to acupuncture but uses heat to stimulate the energy, the body fluids and the regeneration of body tissues. It is very good for removing stagnation in the system and helps to focus the repair process for example with bruising or injuries.

Summer Course 2015

DSC_7341

Summer Course in St Just

Three weeks of Taoist Arts courses in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

T’ai Chi week 27th – 31st July 2015

Each day starts at 10am with some gentle warming up exercises, then we go through the T’ai Chi T’iao wu 跳舞 or dance, sticky hands, K’ai Men chi gung 开门, Tao Yin 岛隐, Energy recognition and development exercises with partners, sensitivity training and T’ai Chi Ch’uan or form. There’s a morning and afternoon tea break and lunch is from 1-2pm. The week has a good ration of teachers to students so you can be sure you will be able to work at a group on your own level and get plenty of individual attention. The cost is £40 per day (OAPs/students/unwaged £20). This week is at St Just Sports Centre.

Feng Shou kung fu 3rd-7th August

Feng Shou kung fu is a gentle but very effective Taoist self defence style from Shandong in China. The training exercises do not require brute force or physical strength so they are suitable for everyone of any age male or female. This course is good for beginners or intermediate or more advanced students. This week is at St Just Sports Centre.

Anmo health and massage 10th-14th August

Anmo is Chinese Taoist energy meridian massage therapy. We will be learning some of the background to Chinese medicine theory as well as practical skills like diagnosis and massage techniques. We will be looking into particular approaches to treating certain diseases and concentrating on preventative methods. This course is at Boswedden House near Cape Cornwall.

 Twelve years of Summer Courses in pictures

Posted by Cornwall Tai Chi on Thursday, 18 June 2015

The residential Summer Course is an ideal environment for beginners and advanced students alike to further their studies. Instructors and senior students from the different areas will be on hand to offer high quality help and advice on all aspects of the Lee style Arts, and it’s an ideal opportunity to get to know the other members of the group in a relaxed environment free from external distractions in an area well known for it’s outstanding natural beauty. Each week of the Summer Course is equivalent to six months of training.

T’ai Chi Week

.

Monday the 27th of July until Friday 31st July 2015

The Summer Course in Cornwall is an ideal opportunity for students practising T’ai Chi to develop a thorough grounding in the Art, in actual fact this course is equivalent to six months training at evening classes.

Many of our advanced students and teachers will be attending the course so it’s a good opportunity to benefit from their experience as there is a high ratio of teachers to students which means plenty of opportunities to work with a teacher on an individual basis. Plus there’s also a chance to train with many other students from around the country who are at your own level to share information and training tips you have picked up along the way at your local classes. And of course it’s an ideal opportunity to get to know the other members of the Association in a relaxed environment free from external distractions in an area well known for it’s outstanding natural beauty. Many of you will find familiar faces from your own local regions but will also be meeting new people who share an interest in the Taoist Arts of the Lee style. Finally you can choose to be assessed – if you wish – by the senior teachers, which is the perfect way to structure your development and target your personal strengths and weaknesses.

Feng Shou, Kung Fu Week

Monday 3th – Friday 7th August 2015

Although T’ai Chi Ch’uan is within itself the most powerful method of self-defence, it is not always practical for everyone to wait the ten or more years necessary to develop the required level of skills. Feng Shou self defence is orientated around learning a soft style self defence method in it’s essence. It is a practical method but does not require the kind of brute physical strength or demanding physical exercise regime more commonly associated with Martial Arts training because it utilizes the dynamic power of Chi or what the Chinese know as ‘internal energy’. This week long course will give the beginner a thorough grounding in the basics of the Art and for the more advanced students there will be plenty of opportunity to practise what you have been learning at the weekend and evening courses in your area as well as learning the advanced forms, evasion sets, foot-flow patterns, rollaway techniques and so on and so forth. There will be a grading for those who wish to be assessed at the end of the week.

Anmo, Health & Massage Week

Monday 10th – Friday 14th August 2015

‘Anmo’ or Chinese Massage is based upon entirely different concepts and principles to the kind of massage and therapy which we are commonly familiar with in the West.

The course consists in a programme of practical work with partners under the supervision of a teacher to practise and learn the basic massage techniques. There will also be daily seminars about the basic concepts of Chinese medicine as outlined below. The course is essential for anyone who is interested in taking their T’ai Chi onto an advanced level, but is also suitable for anyone who is looking at alternative ways to aid the bodies defences and ability to regenerate itself and recover from diseases as well as build a stronger immune system.

Even Western anatomy and physiology is fundamentally different to the theory of Chinese Medicine because the Chinese view of the internal organs was not developed from dissection of dead bodies. The Chinese theory of internal organs or ‘Zang Fu’ 脏腑 was developed from research and studies conducted by Taoists from early times and is based upon the flow of energy around the body which interconnects the organs according to a series of natural functions which is unique to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Each organ is not just an anatomical unit but also includes an energy meridian or channel and is linked to other functions in the body including emotions.

Massage

Over this five day course you will spend each day learning one of the ten basic massage techniques which are designed to stimulate or sedate the flow of life-force or ‘Chi’ around the body.

Diagnosis

We will also be looking at diagnosis methods based on the system ‘the five methods of examination’: asking, looking, touch, listening and smelling. This is a traditional method based around the five elements and the five senses, and involves a variety of ways to observe the illness and get better feedback before proceeding with treatments including pulse examination.

Treatments

We will be looking at some typical examples of ways to treat common diseases based on the following principles:

  1. Diet: Chang Ming or Taoist Long Life diet is a time tested approach to nutrition which has been researched by Taoist Masters since before recorded history. The diet is highly effective in boosting the store of ‘Chi’ or life-force within the body and is based around the Taoist principles of respect for Nature. This means eating natural foods which are unprocessed and avoiding any chemical additives and colourings etc as well as cutting down on red meat and dairy products.
  2. Herbal therapy: Herbs are a large part of Chinese Medicine and thousands of herbs have been catalogued over the centuries, each herb can have varying yin or yang effects. We concentrate on Chinese herbs that also grow in the west following the Taoist principle of using locally grown natural medicines.
  3. Meridian massage: Located throughout the body are special pathways through which the life-force flows including eight special meridians which act as storage vessels similar to the streams, rivers and reservoirs which irrigate the landscape. The meridian massage can be used to stimulate or sedate the flow of energy depending on the elemental imbalance and is also a good way to open up the channels to free blockages and improve the smooth flowing of Chi just like the way sap flows in a tree.
  4. Breathing exercises: Deep breathing is essential for stimulating the production of Chi in the lower abdomen but there are also many specific exercises which can not only help with the process of Chi cultivation but also to help build the immune system to prevent a variety of specific common diseases.
  5. Contact thermogenesis: Moxa or Ginger Compress is similar to acupuncture but uses heat to stimulate the energy, the body fluids and the regeneration of body tissues. It is very good for removing stagnation in the system and helps to focus the repair process for example with bruising or injuries.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Locating the meridians

We will be learning practical exercises to help us locating the eight extra meridians as well as the ten organ meridians in the body and their associated important energy centres and points related to acupressure.

Understanding the five elements theory

To begin with we will be having a look at how the five elements are related to the way energy is balanced between the internal organs as well as relating this to emotional as well as physical factors of disease.

Understanding the eight principles of disease classification

Eight principles is a major form of disease classification used in modern Chinese medicine to differentiate syndromes according to Yin or Yang factors.

Chee Soo on the radio talking about Tai Chi

Chee Soo talking about the benefits of Tai Chi on the radio in 1977.

Chee Soo: It’s “T’ai Chi Ch’uan” is the Mandarin, in Cantonese they call it “Tai Ki Kun”, but it’s no longer tweeted as…

Posted by Taoist Cultural Arts Association on Sunday, 5 July 2015

Easter Course 2015 in St Just

Tai Chi dance at the Summer Course in St Just

Tai Chi is good for all ages.

Tai Chi Easter Course 2015

St Just Sports Centre, Cape Cornwall Road, TR19 7JX
Monday 6th – Friday 10th April 2015 10am-5pm
(Lunch 1-2pm, tea is available)
£40 a day (£20 OAPs, students, under 16s, unwaged)

We start the day with some gentle warming up exercises, this helps to loosen up the muscles and relax the tendons and joints before we start training. The morning session is from 10 am to 1 pm and usually includes a tea break at around 11:30am. We will be learning the Tai Chi dance and we usually do some partner exercises like sticky hands, whirling hands and arms and some Chi and Li energy demonstration exercises. Partner work is very important in Tai Chi as it helps us to develop sensitivity and awareness both of ourselves and others. Also it is a great way to test some of the principles we are learning through the forms and interact with other members of the group. Although learning with the teacher is important it is also of great benefit to learn from other members of the group, this reflects the family nature of the Lee style’s origins.

We usually have a tea break half way through the morning and afLunch is 1-2pm, you can bring a packed lunch or there are cafes and shops selling take away sandwiches and cakes in St Just only a few yards from the course, tea will be available.

The afternoon session starts at 2pm and we usually begin with some Kai Men Chi Gung and Tao Yin exercises. These help to open up the energy channels and stimulate important energy centres as well as developing the breathing capacity. We can develop the ability to absorb energy from the environment around us to supplement our own energy store, this has enormous benefits for health and longevity. We may do some more partner exercises during the afternoon and finish with the Tai Chi form. These are the oldest form exercises in our style which are in sequences. This five day course is an ideal opportunity for beginners to benefit from working with experienced people and the extra time spent on each exercise compared to an evening class means we can look at each exercise in greater depth. We will also be practising some of the traditional weapons exercises of Tai Chi including staff, sword, fan and silk.

If the weather is fine we will be working outside on the sports field behind the sports centre. Our experience over several years of  running these courses in West Penwith is that doing Tai Chi in a beautiful and relaxed environment outside like this clearly enhances the effect.

Heartlands Healing light festival 24th/25th January 2015

 

Tao Yin - deep breathing

Tao Yin – deep breathing

There will be a Tai Chi information stall plus a weekend of demos and taster sessions so come along if you want to meet some of the teachers from the local classes or have a look at our online resources.

Directions

Taoism – an ancient Chinese philosophy with a modern application

Tai Chi dance at the Summer Course in St Just

Tai Chi dance at the Summer Course in St Just

As China has opened to the West more and more people throughout the world are becoming familiar with Tai Chi, Chi Gung, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine but few realise that underlying all these is one important philosophy which has been central to Chinese culture for generations – Taoism.

The Tao is not a thing, it is more like a set of natural principles which govern the Universe and everything in it including ourselves. It is not a religion but a philosophy, however it is not an academic study. It is unique to every individual because it represents our path through life, the lessons and outcomes we learn through the practical trials and errors each of us makes on a daily basis.

The Tao is different to Western philosophies in that it is not based on the normal logic of good and bad, right and wrong, black and white but instead it admits these apparent contradictions as two sides of the same coin.  Winter becomes summer, day turns into night, the cycle goes on, neither is right or wrong but are like the swings of the pendulum, when the extreme is reached the pendulum swings back the opposite way. In this way the Taoist sees that life is a process, these apparent extremes are really just two different aspects of the same thing which evolves one into the other and back again. Once we start to recognise the pattern around us we can start to relax with the flow of the current rather than fighting it.

1024px-Yin_yang.svgAs mankind has evolved into the technological and industrial age we have found enormous benefits though the development of machinery, labour saving devices and so forth, but on the other hand factory work is monotonous, factories create pollution, and the more we rely on machines the less able we become to do things for ourselves. Food is more plentiful than every now but in modern western countries health problems such as obesity, hypertension and heart disease have become prevalent. We either learn to work alongside nature or suffer the consequences, and this is not just something that applies on the macro level but to every one of us as individuals. After all despite our computers and mobile phones we only have to look up at the stars to see that the Universe is immense, and it is only through thousands upon thousands of years of natural development that we have become what we are today, natural creatures designed by nature and living in a natural world.

Well so much for the theory which makes perfect sense and we are all aware of it on some level or another, so what are we going to do about it? Although some of the problems of our society may seem overwhelming it is the opportunity and responsibility of each of us to become aware of these patterns in our own lives. The Tao principle is something which manifests around us but is also expressed though our own nature and so by understanding our selves we can learn to communicate with it, and interact with it. This is not something we can really learn through reading books, or obeying a set of laws but by a series of experiments of trail and error we can start to develop a closer relationship with the Universe and recognise the messages it is trying to bring us.

The Tai Chi exercise called Sticky hands has been developed as a way we can learn one of the basic Taoist principles which is yielding. As we navigate our lives we meet obstacles along the way just in the same way water flowing along a stream meets a rock and flows around it. The energy inside us is a precious commodity so why waste it by struggling through life when we can take advantage of the current flowing around us? In this exercise you make contact with a partner and gently test each other’s balance, with practise you can learn in a practical application how to maintain your equilibrium even when faced with stressful situations.

Chinese Taoist philosophers like Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu were struggling with the same problems of society and civilization that we are today at a time when most western countries were still in a very primitive stage of development. Although many scholars have debated these ancient texts the true legacy of Taoism is the practical lessons of balance and moderation, sensitivity and awareness which can be cultivated not through discussion but by the practice of Taoist Arts such as Tai Chi, Chi Gung and Traditional Chinese medicine. By making us more reliant on labour saving machines, transport, technology, drugs and medicines there is one crucial natural principle that has been left behind which is very important and that is evolution. Making things easy for ourselves is actually making us weaker, not that the Taoist would advocate the opposite that life should be harsh, or that this is wrong, but that we must always bear in mind our roots and our origins and what has made us strong. After all we are the survivors, as were our ancestors, we are descended from the person who turned round and jumped off the trail when the Tiger came, some others did not. This enormous back catalogue of natural experiences has given us many dormant abilities which are no longer being developed in the modern age. For example many modern medicines are designed to eradicate the symptoms of disease and take away the pain. Now I am not advocating that we should relish pain, far from it, but it is pain that tells us not to put our hand into the fire, pain tells us when something is wrong, pain is bad, but pain is also good, and nature has evolved it for a reason. The reason is that Nature has found important lines of communication to warn us of danger and set us back on the path when we wander, and this is a natural and powerful process we can learn to understand and accept as a guiding principle within our lives, and it is not something that we necessarily need experts, specialists, or priests to translate for us but it is something every one of us experiences every day.

What is Chi?

Acupuncture_Doll_-_Close-up_of_Abdomen

Acupuncture meridians

For most people a Tai Chi class is their first encounter with Chi – a word which is unheard of in the West but is central to the Chinese world view.

The meaning of the word Chi

Chi or Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) is a Chinese word that does not have any direct translation into English, Chinese was not created with translation into English as a criterion so some Chinese words simply do not have English language counterparts. Chinese words are often best understood by looking at word combinations that form a set and getting the meaning by the general usage. Sometimes people talk about “Chi energy”, but Chi is never translated as “energy” in a Chinese-English dictionary. Most of the word combinations involving Chi are associated with air or breathing. My teacher Chee Soo wrote about Sheng Chi  盛气 or vitality energy and it is this idea which relates Chi in the human body to health which is the most important meaning in relation to Tai Chi and Chi Gung.

Where is Chi located in the body?

Different types of Chi are created in the body by the internal organs, the lungs produce clean air chi, and the spleen produces food chi, these are called post natal or post-Heaven types of Chi. Another type of energy is stored in the body before we are born, this pre-Heaven or pre-birth Chi is stored in the form of Jing or essence and is located in the kidneys. Each organ contributes it’s special type of Chi to the mixture which makes the Chi which flows around the body.

Chi is stored in the Dan dien or lower cauldron which is located just below the navel and is distributed throughout the body along lines called jingluo or meridians. The Chi circulates around the organs and throughout the entire body, it has two major functions: the Yin function is nourishing the body, this also includes regenerating the tissues and repairing damaged and ageing cells and body parts; the Yang function is the primary motive force of the body, it provides movement of the muscles and also the distribution of essences around the body and the blood stream, it also warms the organs and maintains the required body temperature for us to live comfortably. Chi also defends the body from attacks by external factors like cold and wind with a layer of protective energy called Wei Chi.

The history of Chinese medicine

The quantity and quality of a person’s Chi is very important for health which is why acupuncturists use needles to control the flow of Chi around the body. Chinese medicine has a history going back for more than five thousand years and texts such as the Yellow Emperor’s classic or Nei Ching originating from the Xia dynasty of 2,600 BC are still used as an important reference manual by Chinese medicine practitioners today. Although many people have heard of acupuncture in actual fact it only comprises about ten percent of Chinese medicine treatments, herbs and preventative methods account for the other ninety percent. For example many millions of people practice Tai Chi and Chi Gung or energy development exercises in the parks every morning before going to work. These exercises originate from the traditional Chinese philosophy of Taoism or roughly translated living in harmony with nature.

Is Chi real?

To the Chinese Chi is not just a concept or a metaphor, but how can it be investigated by Western scientific methods? In 1962 a Korean scientist named Kim Bonghan discovered microscopic structures in the body almost too small to be detectable.  The Bonghan channels were found to surround the internal organs and also followed the pathways described in ancient Chinese medical texts and known as the Chi energy meridians or jingluo. These structures were almost invisible because they were microscopic and transparent and for years his work went unrecognised because other scientists were unable to reproduce the dye he used to make them visible. More recently scientists have discovered new types of dyes which can be used to highlight and photograph these structures.

meridian-doll-portraitOne interesting characteristic of these channels is that they can transmit light. The human body generates light known as biophotons although they are at too low a level to be seen under normal circumstances. One theory suggests that the meridian pathways act a bit like a fibre optic super highway sending DNA based information from the organs in a network that connects the entire body. Another avenue of research has found that as well as particles of DNA these channels also contain hyaluronic acid which is found in the aqueous humour in the eyes and is also linked to many important body functions such as wound healing, lubricating the joints and strengthening cartilage and brain development.

However the term ‘Chi’ has been in use by Chinese medicine practitioners and Chi Gung and Tai Chi teachers for many generations before the advent of modern western science, and the reason is that it is a very useful concept which can help people develop their health and vitality. In our Tai Chi classes we have many exercises which help people to understand how to use Chi instead of physical strength, so even without the use of microscopes and special laboratory equipment it is perfectly possible for ordinary people like you and me to develop a useful understanding of Chi, and how it can be developed and used in a variety of situations. By understanding how Chi is made and how it can be cultivated we can improve our health by changing our diet and the way we live. Although increases in our levels of health can be measured by scientists, more importantly we can learn to take responsibility for our own health and well being without relying on doctors, drugs or surgery. The key to understanding this approach to health comes from these opening paragraphs of the Nei Ching: “Do not wait until you are thirsty to start digging a well.”, or as we might say in the West “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

How can we cultivate Chi?

Chi levels in the body can go up or down, we can be full of vitality and at other times we might get run down and sick. We know that the lungs provide clean air chi to the system so deep breathing and learning to expand the breathing capacity is a traditional way of boosting the Chi. A clean natural diet avoiding toxins is another way we can increase Chi. Cultivating Chi is a bit like storing energy in a battery, we can charge it up or run it down, if we learn to charge the battery and avoid depleting the store we can always have a plentiful supply of energy even as we get older. Chi Gung and Tai Chi exercises help us to build a store of energy but also improve the circulation of Chi, think of the sap flowing around a tree in springtime, the tree flourishes and buds turn into shoots and new leaves and growth occurs every year at this time.  As we get older the movement of energy around the body can get stuck and some areas become starved of energy and we get ill. Tai Chi exercises help the chi to flow in a continuous circle around the entire body so the whole system is constantly nourished and regenerated.

Excessive physical exercise burns up vital energies, so does taking drugs, drinking alcohol and excessive sexual activity. Certain foods also deplete the store of Chi such as junk foods, artificial additives, anything which is not what we might consider a natural diet. As we become more sensitive we develop an awareness of the effects of what we take into our body and how we spend our energy. Of course we all have to live in the modern world and give time and energy to our families and work so it’s not possible for us to become monks and live in a mountaintop monastery to cultivate energies. Taoism, the ancient Chinese philosophy on which Tai Chi is based gives us a clue as to how we can practically apply philosophy to increase our levels of energy and the key concept here is balance and moderation.