Tai Chi Class

Welcome to WholenessInMotion. Tai chi is a whole body and mind exercise that combines meditation, martial art and health tonic in one. This particular form is the Yang style, 37 posture short form as taught by Prof. Cheng Man-ch'ing. This fascinating and intricate exercise has many benefits and just about anyone can practice it.

Take a look at this site and consider the study of relaxation and how it can benefit you in your daily life. I look forward to working with you. Tom Daly


 

Archive for December, 2010

Tai Chi Chuan – Raising the Bar!

Posted By Tom Daly on December 18th, 2010

Tai Chi Chuan – Raising the Bar.

OK, I got bored.

There we were in class going over a repeating movement, up high on our legs, again and again and again.

“Get more comfortable,” Maggie kept telling us.

“Yes,” I thought to myself. “I AM feeling comfortable!”

I was smooth, easy. I was enjoying myself by working on that sense of everything culminating at the full part of the posture, like a ballerina on point. So I skipped that “comfortable” part because I thought I had that down cold. I was leading the group in this exercise.

But then she was looking at me, talking at me about becoming more comfortable. How can I become more comfortable? I didn’t know. Her words kept coming my way, as did her eyes.

I was a little embarrassed and very confused.

Finally she pointed out a place where I was on automatic. I hadn’t noticed. It got better, it WAS more comfortable. When we returned to the actual form, this was the most smooth, easy, delicious form I had ever done. It was an amazing experience. The form was more like riding in a smooth luxury car cruising down the highway. I was only there for the ride.

This raises a vital question. How do we raise the bar? Particularly when we think we are already on point?

Being knowledgeable can be a tremendous hindrance. As someone who knows a fair amount about tai chi, I sometimes disregard an instruction because I feel it doesn’t apply to me. I’m already there, or so I believe.

I was working with a good push hands beginner who felt she didn’t have any more yield in her neutralization. I thought she did. Initially, she was convinced of her self-observation. But she was open to working on this more despite her feeling, her knowing that she did not have more. Then she found more yield and more neutralization.

The simple, yet hard answer is that we have to assume, always, that there is more. You never really arrive. You have to love what you have but keep looking for those places that are habitual. And see if you can see more.

I suppose this is not particularly good news. Perhaps it’s OK to rest on your achievements for a while and to let them soak in and feel good about them. That’s important.

But they can’t become stuck places or medals of honors or badges of success or places the ego justifies its own existence. Once that transformation takes place, you are carrying around some dead thing to show others like some carcass from the hunt. I’m not talking about trying to be modest or humble. It’s knowing you have not arrived, you never will arrive and, if nothing else, you now have something to give away. You can’t clutch it greedily as a bragging point. It is now a gift to give others IF (IF!) they want it.

There is a lot of potential tedium in tai chi practice. There is a great deal of repetition and this can lead to disinterest (and therefore tedium.) But you have to be in it to get it. Generally, it doesn’t just come to you; you have to reach out to find it. Tai chi is for those of us who like to search, to explore.

And that IS the solution to the tedium. Exploring for new levels of experience pushes aside that tedium. Repeating it for the purpose of finding something else can lead to new insights. That’s where the excitement is!

The reward is more comfort, more chi, more peace, more awareness, possibly more confidence without the egotistical aspects that often gets attached to confidence. This is confidence that wants others to “get it”, not confidence that wants to impress.

So back to reality: there is more more more. That’s why tai chi keeps me fascinated. That’s why I want to keep learning. This is the hardest lesson of all to embody.

I think this is Life at its core.

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Tai Chi Chuan – Exercise Before Breakfast (New York Times)

Posted By Tom Daly on December 15th, 2010

Tai Chi Chuan – Exercise Before Breakfast

Below it notes that before breakfast exercise has a marked benefit. Of course, we who do tai chi with rigor know that tai chi before your day is the way to go! Of interest. Tom

December 15, 2010, 12:01 am
New York Times
Phys Ed: The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

The holiday season brings many joys and, unfortunately, many countervailing dietary pitfalls. Even the fittest and most disciplined of us can succumb, indulging in more fat and calories than at any other time of the year. The health consequences, if the behavior is unchecked, can be swift and worrying. A recent study by scientists in Australia found that after only three days, an extremely high-fat, high-calorie diet can lead to increased blood sugar and insulin resistance, potentially increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Waistlines also can expand at this time of year, prompting self-recrimination and unrealistic New Year’s resolutions.

But a new study published in The Journal of Physiology suggests a more reliable and far simpler response. Run or bicycle before breakfast. Exercising in the morning, before eating, the study results show, seems to significantly lessen the ill effects of holiday Bacchanalias.

For the study, researchers in Belgium recruited 28 healthy, active young men and began stuffing them with a truly lousy diet, composed of 50 percent fat and 30 percent more calories, overall, than the men had been consuming. Some of the men agreed not to exercise during the experiment. The rest were assigned to one of two exercise groups. The groups’ regimens were identical and exhausting. The men worked out four times a week in the mornings, running and cycling at a strenuous intensity. Two of the sessions lasted 90 minutes, the others, an hour. All of the workouts were supervised, so the energy expenditure of the two groups was identical.

Their early-morning routines, however, were not. One of the groups ate a hefty, carbohydrate-rich breakfast before exercising and continued to ingest carbohydrates, in the form of something like a sports drink, throughout their workouts. The second group worked out without eating first and drank only water during the training. They made up for their abstinence with breakfast later that morning, comparable in calories to the other group’s trencherman portions.

The experiment lasted for six weeks. At the end, the nonexercising group was, to no one’s surprise, super-sized, having packed on an average of more than six pounds. They had also developed insulin resistance — their muscles were no longer responding well to insulin and weren’t pulling sugar (or, more technically, glucose) out of the bloodstream efficiently — and they had begun storing extra fat within and between their muscle cells. Both insulin resistance and fat-marbled muscles are metabolically unhealthy conditions that can be precursors of diabetes.

The men who ate breakfast before exercising gained weight, too, although only about half as much as the control group. Like those sedentary big eaters, however, they had become more insulin-resistant and were storing a greater amount of fat in their muscles.

Only the group that exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. They also burned the fat they were taking in more efficiently. “Our current data,” the study’s authors wrote, “indicate that exercise training in the fasted state is more effective than exercise in the carbohydrate-fed state to stimulate glucose tolerance despite a hypercaloric high-fat diet.”

Just how exercising before breakfast blunts the deleterious effects of overindulging is not completely understood, although this study points toward several intriguing explanations. For one, as has been known for some time, exercising in a fasted state (usually possible only before breakfast), coaxes the body to burn a greater percentage of fat for fuel during vigorous exercise, instead of relying primarily on carbohydrates. When you burn fat, you obviously don’t store it in your muscles. In “our study, only the fasted group demonstrated beneficial metabolic adaptations, which eventually may enhance oxidative fatty acid turnover,” said Peter Hespel, Ph.D., a professor in the Research Center for Exercise and Health at Catholic University Leuven in Belgium and senior author of the study.

At the same time, the fasting group showed increased levels of a muscle protein that “is responsible for insulin-stimulated glucose transport in muscle and thus plays a pivotal role in regulation of insulin sensitivity,” Dr Hespel said.

In other words, working out before breakfast directly combated the two most detrimental effects of eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet. It also helped the men avoid gaining weight.

There are caveats, of course. Exercising on an empty stomach is unlikely to improve your performance during that workout. Carbohydrates are easier for working muscles to access and burn for energy than fat, which is why athletes typically eat a high-carbohydrate diet. The researchers also don’t know whether the same benefits will accrue if you exercise at a more leisurely pace and for less time than in this study, although, according to Leonie Heilbronn, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, who has extensively studied the effects of high-fat diets and wrote a commentary about the Belgian study, “I would predict low intensity is better than nothing.”

So, unpleasant as the prospect may be, set your alarm after the next Christmas party to wake you early enough that you can run before sitting down to breakfast. “I would recommend this,” Dr. Heilbronn concluded, “as a way of combating Christmas” and those insidiously delectable cookies.

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