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Chi is a form of exercise that originated in China as a martial
art. Dating back to the 13th century, it was developed in the Taoist
monasteries and embodies their philosophies. It reflects the
importance of the balance of man with nature.
principle of Tai Chi is harmony, not only with outer forces, but
within oneself, harmonizing the physical, mental and spiritual
aspects of life. Over the centuries, Tai Chi was a guarded secret,
passed down from family to family. In the 19th century this great
secret was exposed to the masses, quickly becoming the national
exercise of China.
now Tai Chi has an American history. It was brought here in the
1960s, soon after the great doors of China opened to the world.
Introduced by scholars through the universities, it spread across
America slowly: first embraced by the counterculture; then by the
martial artists; and now by the mainstream.
Chi is actually a type of Chi Gung, an exercise focused on moving
chi (life force) through channels in the body, known as meridians.
Tai Chi and Chi Gung are an integral part of Chinese medicine. These
exercises are often prescribed in the treatment of illnesses, as well
as used as preventive medicine.
health issues are as predominant as ever. It has become more
apparent that the individual must take an active role in preserving
and maintaining his or her own health. We see that there is no
miracle procedure, or drug, or person that can "cure" us, or rid us
of disease. We see the effects of environment and stress on the body;
we are becoming more conscious of the role of the mind and the
emotions on health and the quality of living. As conscious
individuals we see the power of our attitude, therefore, we see the
power we have within ourselves to affect our health.
Chi is the personification of this. It helps the individual to
focus, to recognize and to strengthen the body, the mind and
attitude. The practice encourages discipline. One learns a series of
graceful and flowing movements which are both challenging and
rewarding, hence the practitioner is inspired to do them routinely.
At first, it's a hobby, soon it's a habit, and eventually you can't
live without it. As it becomes a part of your life, the discipline
spills over into other areas. Many people have used the practice as a
substitute for other, less healthy habits.
Chi directly leads one to his or her center. This is most obvious
on the physical level. When learning the movements and the
accompanied breathing, the focus is on erect posture, proper
alignment and deep relaxation, so that there is no stress on the back
or joints. Students learn a proper stance that roots them to the
ground and allows them to be flexible. These qualities are developed
in attitude as well. The deep relaxation builds an inner strength and
quiets the mind, giving the practitioner a sense of peace which
reduces the effects of stress. The breathing helps to release muscle
tension, which releases emotional stress stored in the muscles,
demonstrating the connection between the physical, mental and
Chi is practiced by individuals for their own enhancement; the
lessons learned influence one's daily life. The movements were
inspired by nature, therefore they can be seen in nature. The person
who practices will find that they walk differently, stand
differently, even think and feel differently.
is quite a large community of practitioners in Sonoma County. I
have been teaching here for over 15 years, and have watched the
development of people of all ages and walks of life: athletes who do
Tai Chi because it improves their sport; business people who practice
to relieve stress; children who love it because it's fun; doctors,
chiropractors, acupuncturists and physical therapists learning in
order to enhance their medical practice; seniors learning to improve
their balance and keep fit without the risk of injury. I have even
had people join to help them through a period of grief.
group spirit of being in a class is yet another dimension of the
learning process. In this non-competitive atmosphere, we all work
together, breaking through the boundaries of age and social status.
Those of us who come together each week, year after year, view our
health holistically. We have chosen to strengthen our bodies, clear
our minds and raise our spirits. We have chosen a natural way, the
Tai Chi way.
Golden teaches ongoing Tai Chi classes throughout Sonoma
County, California. All levels are welcome, and new students may join
at the beginning of each month. For more information call (707)
874-2042 or visit www.goldenjane.com.
a list of holistic practitioners, check out Share Guide's Holistic
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