Back pain causes and help

Back pain comes from many different sources and we all suffer from it, from upper back tension, to the pulled-something pain of the lower and middle back. There’s a saying in Chinese Medicine, “Trying to get healthy after you are sick is like digging a well when you are dying of thirst.” Here are a few things we can do to help our backs to prevent the pain.

My husband asked me once why I exercise every day. I told him some people take pills for the pain, I’d rather spend 10 minutes on the floor exercising and not have to take pills or go to the doctor every few months. Plus, it gives me a few moments to get close to my dog, have a little fun with him, give him some attention that he craves. Nothing like stretching and loving at the same time 🙂

Exercise is obviously important, and the right kind of exercise will ease the pain, building up the support we need to prevent future pain. This site has a great list and videos of various moves, I do a variation of many of these most every day to prevent sciatic pain, which I developed back in the early ’90’s.

From a young age we are taught to sit up straight, but is this always good advice when it means pushing out our chest and feeling uncomfortable? I mean, if that felt comfortable, we’d always sit that way, right? This Ted talk video (also shown below) shows us a different and more comfortable way to sit.

Reasons to do Tai Chi

49 Reasons to do Tai Chi as compiled by the Tai Chi guy Larry Costner

​1. It’s enjoyable — exercise that feels good while you’re doing it
2. It’s meditation in motion — you don’t have to sit still
3. Helps alleviate stress
4. Reduces anxiety
5. Helps fight depression
6. Increases awareness and focus and concentration
7. You can do it with friends
8. You can do it alone
9. It leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed
10. It leaves you feeling energized
11. No special clothing needed
12. Graceful, flowing movements
13. No huffing and puffing, but it burns calories
14. Aerobic benefits without the huffing and puffing
15. Gentle and low-impact
16. Works your whole body from head to toe
17. Cultivates and balances your qi
18. Improves your balance
19. Improves coordination
20. Improves flexibility
21. Improves your posture
22. Lubricates your joints, which helps keep them youthful
23. It’s good for arthritis
24. Strengthens legs and the core of the body
25. Helps build strong bones (’cause it’s a weight-bearing exercise)
26. Lowers the risk of osteoporosis
27. Eases headaches
28. Helpful for chronic pain
29. Slow, mindful movements — teaches you to slow down and be in the moment
30. Relaxes tight muscles and helps keep them relaxed
31. Gives your brain a workout (’cause you gotta learn and remember all those moves)
32. May help keep memory sharp and ward off Alzheimer’s
33. Gives your immune system a boost
34. Lowers blood pressure
35. Reduces bad cholesterol levels
36. Raises good cholesterol levels
37. It’s a different way to exercise — not like other workouts
38. Experts recommend it for fibromyalgia
39. Experts recommend it for back pain
40. Experts recommend it for Parkinson’s disease
41. Eases insomnia and helps you sleep better
42. Reduces the risk of falls as you get older
43. Doesn’t require special equipment
44. You can do it almost anywhere
45. Suitable for all fitness levels from couch potatoes to uber-athletes
46. Can be modified for most health conditions and injuries
47. You can practice at any age — young, old or anywhere in between
48. It looks graceful and soothing — and it is.
49. It’s fun!

Movement of the spinal column during Tai Chi

A number of people have come up to me to say they had issues with their backs, and are not able to twist the spine much, if at all. Which made me wonder, just how much does the spine really twist while doing Tai Chi? So I went to a Tai Chi forum on Linked in, and was rewarded with this video by Bruce Ching.

Our spines are pretty amazing in all the ways they move. Forward and back, bending right and left, twisting to the right and left, it’s no wonder so many people have back issues. But in doing our forms, if we adhere to the principle of keeping the shoulders aligned over the hips, we keep the twisting to a minimum.

Body Alignment chartThis chart, and my apologies to whomever created this for not giving you credit, shows how the spine also stays in a vertical line while doing our forms correctly.

This makes me think that as a beginner we should be most aware of our posture, especially if we already have back issues. The more correctly we align our posture, keeping vertical when we step out, turning the hips with the waist when we turn to the side, the better our backs will feel. Which will make it easier for us to continue our practice. So if your back is hurting while practicing Tai Chi, have your teacher, or a physical or massage therapist watch you while you do your forms. They should be able to advise where you are bending or twisting further than your body appreciates and how to fix the movement. Remember that what we feel our bodies are doing, is not what it looks like to others. If you don’t have someone to watch you, then take a video of yourself, you may be amazed at how your body is moving as compared to what your mind thinks you are doing.

For a really in-depth look at the movements of the body please check out this very scientific paper on Spinal Engine and Waist Power from Taijiquan Viewpoint by C.P. Ong.

World Tai Chi Day 2018 was a rousing Success!

Attendance at Mountain Park Park celebration of World Tai Chi Day 2018 in Lilburn doubled in size from last year, with teachers of Wudang, Yang and Chen styles leading the group in their forms. Plus a student of a Korean style of Tai Chi showed her moves.

Here’s the official, if somewhat amateur, video production and some photos of the event. Thanks to Diana Dice and Paula Sandlin and Lucy Ronkfor joining in the fun of leading the group! And especial gratitude to my husband Bernie for manning both video and still cameras. If you have any photos you’d like to share, please send them to me.


Below are a few of my favorite shots. If these are not enough for you, check out this gallery!

Diana Dice

Diana Dice

Jan doing the Wudang 49 form sword set


Jan doing the Wudang 49 form sword set

Jan doing the Wudang 49 form sword set

Paula Sandlin

Paula Sandlin

Lucy Ronk

Lucy Ronk

Can Qi cure cancer?

Startling headline, but according to studies, including those at Harvard, YES! I was listening to an interview with Joan Borysenko who mentioned a study with Harvard and qi healers. They had separated cancer cells from healthy cells, then introduced them to the power of an external qi healer. The normal cells showed very little change. The cancer cells had a much different reaction. The pathways used by cancer cells to grow and spread were inhibited, and the cancer cells actually died. In addition, cancer in their tests were affected by the qi up to 24 hours after the qi healer had left the room. Remarkable!
Practicing Tai Chi
So, I had to research this myself, to find documentation. I mean, if this is true, why isn’t this the standard cure for cancer? Why are we instead forced into a concoction of lethal drugs and radiation? I have not found that study yet, but I did come across this article, dating back to 1980. Here the author, Paul Gong, relates personal stories of people who were listed as beyond Western medical care, healing themselves by doing a regular practice of qigong. Their recommendation was 30-45 minutes a day of moving and meditation. In this article, Helen Liang, a Wushu master in China, resolved her cancer with qigong practice, and herbs prescribed by a Traditional Medical doctor. And I’ve previously posted about the measurable effects of Tai Chi showing the increased oxygenation of blood after doing Tai Chi versus walking, running and resting.

This website has a number of different links to articles about qi curing cancer. One easy practice includes doing the Tai Chi walk, letting your arms swing from side to side, and breathing in twice for every exhale. This is called xi xi hu, or inhale, inhale, exhale. It is a fun and relaxing walk, and very easy to do. Come to one of my classes, and we’ll practice it together.

Learn a little about Wudang Tai Chi and Taoism

Purple Cloud Temple

Purple Cloud Temple

Check out this interesting video about The Secrets of Wudang Wushu. Got some good visuals of the temples I visited in the mountains of Wudang too. Wudang priests are rigorously trained in not only Tai Chi and Qigong, but harder martial arts like kungfu, and also the internal elements of qi movement. Plus, they are taught caligraphy, Taoism as a religion, healing techniques, and feng shui.

It was interesting to see so many non-Chinese studying there too. The West is finally getting really interested in ancient Chinese culture, and the benefits we can get from practicing.

World Tai Chi Day is almost here!

World Tai Chi Day is celebrated around the world at 10am local time.

Locally, Jan Stittleburg and Diana Dice, Tai Chi instructors, will be hosting the event at Mountain Park Park, 5050 Five Forks-Trickum Road, Lilburn 30047, at 10AM on Saturday April 28th. This will be the third year for this event in Lilburn. Last year about 20 people came to practice Tai Chi, lead by Jan and Diana. This year we are inviting all Tai Chi practitioners to come join us. Other teachers will have the opportunity to show and lead their style to the group as well. There is no cost to join us, just wear something comfortable and weather appropriate, and bring water to drink. We will be meeting on the Pounds Road side of the tennis courts, by the small child playground.

Come join the fun, even if you don’t know what Tai Chi really is. This a great opportunity to meet some members of the community and practice together, or just get an idea of what Tai Chi is.

 

Tai Chi in Action

Many people do not know that Tai Chi is based on martial arts, hand to hand combat skills. What we do is very structured and full of intent, each hand has a purpose and meaning in its movements.

This video of Wudang Tai Chi is one of the best videos I’ve watched to see the application of various forms. It would be even better if there was an English translation! Watch carefully as the teacher shows the form, then breaks apart the movements as an attacker approaches.

While Tai Chi in the United States is primarily taught for health benefits (relieving stress, toning the muscles, improving balance, lowering blood pressure, meditation in motion, etc.) when we learn the reason behind the movements and the purpose of each form, it has just that much more value. My classes are NOT intended to be self-defense classes, but just knowing the movements can add to your self-confidence and understanding. Your muscle memory may just surprise you in the moment of an attack.

World Tai Chi Day Celebration

We had 18 in total practicing together

We had 18 in total practicing together

The last Saturday in April is World Tai Chi Day. We celebrated in Lilburn’s Mountain Park Park with two teachers and their students sharing their formsets, and finishing with a tai chi sword demonstration by yours truly. We all had fun, and shared some good qi with each other! Many thanks to all who participated, Bernie Stittleburg and Diana Dice for the photography.

Measurable Benefits of Tai Chi

Why do we do Tai Chi – what are the benefits of Tai Chi? To an outsider, it may look like we are waving our hands around for no reason. We know that Tai Chi is based on ancient Chinese martial arts, and that each movement has an application or two, a purpose for each move. There are those who have studied the movements and say that one movement will help the energy in a particular meridian. But still, some people want scientific proof of our claims.

Part of Grasping Sparrow's Tail Sequence

Part of Grasping Sparrow’s Tail Sequence

(Running scored the lowest.)This article by Dr. Pete Gryffin talks about how Tai Chi is scientifically measurably good for you. He studied various activities, such as walking, running, resting, Yang style Tai Chi, Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail sequence in particular, and Qi walking. He looked at the blood oxygen saturation of the various activities, and found that doing the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail sequence resulted in the highest increase in blood oxygen saturation. Qi Walking, Yang style Tai Chi scored the second and third highest increases in blood oxygen saturation.

He also states that one of the major complications in cancer treatment is hypoxia, which is an oxygen deficiency in the tissues. So it is logical to conclude that by adding Tai Chi to your life will help with cancer treatments.

According to Great Grand Master Kellen Chia, Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail also benefits the eliminative organs of the body, such as the large intestine, colon, and will also treat constipation.

Come to a class soon and learn this healthy and health-ful form!