My very first massage class was 100-hour intensive Swedish Massage class. It was intensive because we had the class almost every day and we were done in one month. One of the requirements in this Swedish Massage Class was to learn Tai Chi because you can apply the Tai Chi movements to give Swedish Massage.
This week I will introduce you to Tai Chi as I demonstrate it at ECETI in Washington where I recently visited. ECETI stands for Enlightened Contact with Extraterrestrial Intelligence. It is a beautiful place with Mt. Adams in the background where you can observe UFOs. I think you can learn a lot more by visiting here than storming Area 51 in September. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just Google “Storm Area 51.”
Mind you, I am not an expert, I’m a beginner at this. I already found some things that I was doing wrong. I welcome any pointers if you know Tai Chi.
So what is Tai Chi? It’s an ancient Chinese form of exercise based on martial arts. Tai Chi has been developed over hundreds of years and there are different styles depending on the family that passed it on. In general, they were pretty long with a sequence of 88-108 postures also known as long-form.
In 1956, the Chinese government’s Sports Committee called on four Tai Chi teachers to come up with a simpler sequence so it’s easier for everyone to learn and exercise. So they came up with the standardized 24-form also known as short-form or Yang-form although I guess the Yang family doesn’t recognize it but that’s the one I learned.
It’s a slow movement but I know my teacher would say I’m doing it too fast. It’s like a moving meditation and very calming. You may have seen a picture of a group practicing Tai Chi on the street or park in Asia. Often these practitioners are old and sometimes very old which makes me think this must be good for longevity.
In fact, the benefits of Tai Chi are mental clarity and focus, building strong base and balance, flexibility, reduce arthritis pain, reduce stress, better breathing to name a few.
The keys we learned in Tai Chi were to extend your head, soft gaze over horizon, dropped shoulders, rounded elbows, soft wrists, Tai Chi trunk without bending, follow Tan Tien below bellybutton, breath into belly, bent knee, complete shift of weight, stay leveled, and eggs under armpits. These helped to learn how to use body in Swedish Massage. I also find myself pivoting on my heels a lot during massage and using the side moves from cloud hands when I massage backs and legs.
To tell you the truth after the Swedish Massage class, I didn’t practice Tai Chi for 7 years and I completely forgot after the first movement. So I looked for a teacher for a refresher but I basically had to re-learn the whole sequence. I don’t think my demonstration does justice so I will include the link to my favorite Tai Chi video that I studied when I was re-learning the sequence.
Simplified Tai Chi 24 form (YMAA Taijiquan) Yang style by Liang, Shou-Yu
Although it’s low-impact exercise, it can be a workout. I sometimes break sweat and my hands get very hot at the end. When I finish without making a mistake, I’m left with a sense of accomplishment. It just makes you feel good in multiple aspects.
I went to a massage school called Healing Hands. They were very down-to-earth and we sat on the floor most of the time during the class instead of sitting in a chair and writing on a table. I don’t know if other massage schools also teach Tai Chi but I was very grateful to be introduced to this exercise for the body and mind.
By the way, if you ever go to ECETI and do Skywatch at night, I highly recommend you grab one of the recliners that they have in the field because you will be looking up at the sky for a long time, even behind you, and that will kill your neck. And as you look up you will be creating wrinkles on your forehead for a long time which is not good. The second night I grabbed a recliner and it was such a neck saver and forehead saver.
Live long and prosper ♡
Massage Monday #461 Tai Chi at ECETI http://bit.ly/mm-461