Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Just a Reminder

Hello All,   This is just a friendly reminder that the Tai Chi classes in Pine Grove will be at 6:00pm Monday and Wednesday starting January 2, 2012.  :)  I hope to see you all there!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Small Glossery of Commonly used Chinese terms for Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Chinese Martial Arts

I added a page with a list of commonly used Chinese terms for Tai Chi Chuan, Qi Gong, and Chinese Martial Arts.  This isn't something that I require my students to learn, but i wanted to make these terms available to anyone interested in learning them.  :)  A link to this new page is listed in the "pages" section on the left side of this blog.  You can also Click Here to view it.  Check it out.  :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Evening Tai Chi and Qi Gong Classes Starting in January 2012

I just wanted to let everyone know that starting in January 2012 at the KSW Karate Dojo in Pine Grove, CA evening classes in Tai Chi and Qi Gong will be made available. The classes will be held on Monday and Wednesday evenings starting at 6:00. If you have further questions please feel free to contact the KSW Karate Dojo at (209) 296-4200 or Contact Me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Can Tai Chi Benefit People with Fibromyalgia?

The following is a short article from the National Center of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM); I think it is awesome and I think you all will enjoy it too: 

Tai Chi May Benefit Patients With Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia may benefit from practicing tai chi, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by muscle pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. People with fibromyalgia have chronic widespread pain, as well as "tender points" on areas of the body, which hurt when slight pressure is applied. Although exercise appears to be an important part of fibromyalgia treatment, many people with fibromyalgia need medication to control symptoms and are unable to maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and overall fitness.
Researchers, funded in part by NCCAM, evaluated the physical and psychological benefits of tai chi (which combines meditation, slow movements, deep breathing, and relaxation) in 66 people with fibromyalgia. The participants were assigned to one of two groups: an attention control group that received wellness education and practiced stretching exercises, or a tai chi group that received instruction in tai chi principles and techniques and practiced 10 forms of Yang‑style tai chi. Both groups met in 1‑hour sessions twice a week for 12 weeks and also practiced daily at home. Tai chi participants used an instructional DVD to continue practice for 12 more weeks.
Compared with the attention control group, the tai chi group had a significantly greater decrease in total score on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire at 12 weeks. In addition, the tai chi group demonstrated greater improvement in sleep quality, mood, and quality of life. Improvements were still present at 24 weeks. No adverse events were reported.
The researchers concluded that these findings support previous research indicating benefits of tai chi for musculoskeletal pain, depression, and quality of life. The underlying mechanisms are unknown, and the researchers noted that larger, longer term studies are needed to evaluate the potential benefits of tai chi for patients with fibromyalgia.


Additional Resources

Journal Publication Date: August 19, 2010

If you're interested in learning Tai Chi in Amador County visit our Class Schedules and Locations page to find out what classes will work best for you.  :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Interesting Article About the Effects of Vitamins on Lung Cancer.

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, November 18, 2011
Vitamins Decrease Lung Cancer Risk by 50%

by Robert G. Smith, PhD

(OMNS, Nov 18, 2011) A recent study [1] of the effect of B vitamins on a large group of participants reported an inverse relationship between blood serum levels of vitamin B6, methionine, and folate and the risk of lung cancer. High serum levels of vitamin B6, methionine and folate were associated with a 50% or greater reduction in lung cancer risk. This exciting finding has not been widely reported in the media, but it confirms a growing body of evidence gathered over the last 40 years that B vitamins are important for preventing diseases such as cancer.

The study gathered information about the lifestyle and diet of 385,000 people in several European countries. The average age was 64 years, and most had a history of drinking alcohol daily. Blood samples were then taken from these participants, and some of those (889) that developed lung cancer were analyzed for the level of several B vitamins and related biochemicals such as methionine, an essential amino acid. These nutrients were studied because they are known to be important in the metabolism of single carbon compounds, which is necessary for the synthesis and repair of DNA in the body's tissues [2]. Thus, B vitamins are helpful in preventing defects in DNA which can cause cancer [2-4].

Specifically, a high level of either vitamin B6, or methionine, or folate reduced the risk for lung cancer. High levels of all these nutrients together produced an even lower risk. The effects were large, so the results are highly significant.

The study divided the participants into three categories, depending on whether they currently smoked, had previously smoked, or had never smoked. While smoking is the most important lifestyle factor in the risk for lung cancer, interestingly, the effects of vitamin B6, methionine, and folate were fairly constant among the three categories. That is, those with higher levels of these B vitamins had a significantly lower risk of lung cancer no matter whether they smoked or not. The report emphasizes that this result strongly suggests that the effect of these essential nutrients in lowering the risk for cancer is real and not purely a statistical correlation. And, the report reiterates that smoking is dangerous, greatly increasing the risk for lung cancer in older people after decades of insult to the lungs.

Some widely-reported health studies have suggested that B vitamins can increase the risk of cancer. The theory is that these vitamins can help to prevent cancer from their effects in strengthening DNA synthesis and repair, but that when cancer is present, the vitamins supposedly help the cancer to grow [5]. However, there is a long history of health studies, including the above mentioned study, reporting that B vitamins including folate and vitamin B6 can help to prevent many types of cancer, such as breast, prostate and colorectal cancer [1-6].

It is just amazing how the news media could have missed this, but they pretty much did. In one much-publicized study [7] it was widely claimed that "Multivitamins increase deaths in older women!" Actually, the study found that B complex vitamins were associated with a 7 percent decrease in mortality, vitamin C was associated with a 4 percent decrease in mortality, vitamin D was associated with an 8 percent decrease in mortality, and several minerals were associated with a decrease in mortality.

Essential nutrients in a well-balanced diet, including B-complex, C, D, and E vitamins, are crucial to maintaining good health into old age for a variety of reasons. Persons taking adequate levels of vitamins will live longer, with fewer heart attacks [7] and other serious diseases such as diabetes [8], multiple sclerosis [9], and dementia [10].

The question begged by the report is, what role did vitamin supplements play in the blood levels reported for these essential nutrients? Taking a multivitamin that includes B-complex vitamins will obviously increase the blood levels of these essential nutrients. However, the value of supplements was not emphasized in the report.

So we will emphasize it here. Vitamins dramatically lower lung cancer risk. Supplements provide these nutrients in abundance. Modern diets do not.


1. Johansson M, Relton C, Ueland PM, et al. Serum B vitamin levels and risk of lung cancer. JAMA. 2010 Jun 16;303(23):2377-85.

2. Xu X, Chen J. One-carbon metabolism and breast cancer: an epidemiological perspective. J Genet Genomics. 2009;36: 203-214.

3. Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A. Vitamin B6 and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. JAMA. 2010;303:1077-1083.

4. Ames BN. Prevention of mutation, cancer, and other age-associated diseases by optimizing micronutrient intake. J Nucleic Acids. 2010 Sep 22;2010. pii: 725071.

5. Mason JB. Unraveling the complex relationship between folate and cancer risk. Biofactors. 2011 Jul;37(4):253-60.

6. Giovannucci E. Epidemiologic studies of folate and colorectal neoplasia: a review. J Nutr. 2002;132(Suppl):S2350-S2355.

7. Mursu J, Robien K, Harnack LJ, Park K, Jacobs DR Jr. Dietary supplements and mortality rate in older women. The Iowa Women's Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2011. 171(18):1625-1633.

8. Pfister R, Sharp SJ, Luben R, et al. Plasma vitamin C predicts incident heart failure in men and women in European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk prospective study. Am Heart J. 2011 Aug;162(2):246-53.

9. Harding AH, Wareham NJ, Bingham SA, et al. Plasma vitamin C level, fruit and vegetable consumption, and the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus: the European prospective investigation of cancer--Norfolk prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jul 28;168(14):1493-9.

10. Solomon AJ. Multiple sclerosis and vitamin D. Neurology. 2011 Oct 25;77(17):e99-e100.

11. Selhub J, Troen A, Rosenberg IH. B vitamins and the aging brain. Nutr Rev. 2010 Dec;68 Suppl 2:S112-8.

To Subscribe to the Orthomolecular News Service: http://www.orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html
Posted with permission from OMNS
If you are looking for some exceptional vitamins to fill the gaps in your diet, check out Daily CompleteTM at Amador County's Online Health Food Store.  With 243 nutrients (including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, a greens blend and more) it should greatly help you ensure that you are getting enough nutrients in your diet.*

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Product of the Month for November 2011 - Pure Trim Truffles?

This month I decided to make a video instead of just writing about the Product of the Month from Amador County's Online Health Food Store.   This product is designed to help people control their cravings in a healthful manner* with it's all natural ingredients.  Check out the video and see what you think.  :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great News About the Tai Chi DVD

After months of set-backs, technical difficulties, and a super busy schedule to contend with, the "Tai Chi Basics" DVD is finally finished!  :)  I just finished putting the first batch into my gym bag to take to class tomorrow morning at New York Fitness and I will be bringing several copies to the classes in Pine Grove as well.  So they will be available at both locations during each class.  :)

This project originally started as a single DVD and has turned into a 2 DVD set because I was not able to fit all of the information on one disc.  Some of the topics covered in this set are as follows:
  • Basic Movements
  • Basic Footwork
  • The Yang Style Tai Chi 24 form (With each step broken down in detail)
  • Basic Stances
  • Standing Like a Tree Qi Gong
  • A Tai Chi Moving Qi Gong Set
  • Warm Up Exercises
  • Cool Down Exercises
  • And Other Information
I'm really excited to have this project complete and to have this learning aid available to all of my students.  I am very much in hopes that these DVD's will help you all practice at home.  Thank you all for your patience while this project was in the works!  See you at class.   :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

New "Lifestyle" Post

Just a "heads up."  I put up a new post in the "Lifestyle Section" titled "Tame Your Tension & Curb Your Cravings."  It lists 7 foods you can use to help reduce food cravings and better cope with stress.  Enjoy!  :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

An Interview With My Master in China

One of my friends (Will) that I met while I was in China had the opportunity to interview my master and posted the interview on his blog.  I just found it yesterday and I enjoyed reading it so much that I want to give you all the chance to read it too.  This will give you a little glimpse of the master that I had the incredible privilege of training with during my most recent trip to China.  Feel free to check out the other stuff on Will's blog.  He has done a lot of traveling and studying in China and he has some very fascinating posts on his blog.  :)  Enjoy!

Click Here to read the "Interview with Kun Yu Shan's Master Guo Xin Min"

Master Guo and Me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Qi Gong Massage for Stress Relief - Part 2

Back on the 1st of September I posted Qi Gong Massage for Stress Relief - Part 1 and I said I would be posting a Part 2 fairly soon.  Well, here it is.  :)  This video picks up where the last video left off adding more Qi Gong Massage techniques that can be used to relax your mind and body any time you have the need.  If you use the information in both videos back to back you should pretty amazing by the time you're done.  :)  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New "Lifestyle" Section

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up about the new "Lifestyle" section of this blog.  The link to it is on the left side of this page under the *New Section* heading (Sandwiched between the "Pages" list and the "Product of the Month" listing).  :) 

This section will contain articles from the Awareness Lifestyle eMagazine which is put out by the company that produces the products I carry in Amador County's Online Health Food Store.  They contain healthy eating tips, product information, weight loss tips, nutrition information, etc. and I want to make them available for you to read.  :)

I hope you all enjoy reading this new section and find the information useful for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

Click Here to visit the NEW Lifestyle section of the blog.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Don't Forget. :)

Just a friendly reminder that tomorrow morning (9-3-11) at 6:30am we will be having another "Rise and Shine" Qi Gong Session in Detert Park.  If you have any questions Contact Me, otherwise I hope to see you there!  :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Product of the Month for September 2011 - Synergy Defense

A new month is upon us, which means Ancient Wisdom for The New You is proudly presenting a new product of the month from Amador County's Online Health Food Store.  This month we will be focusing on Synergy Defense a product that is a huge favorite of mine because it is so relevant to the needs of many people living in the U.S. today.

Most people know exactly what I'm talking about when I say words like Heartburn and Indigestion.  You may not even have to think back very far to remember the last meal that gave you heart burn or "didn't quite agree with your tummy."  Many times we eat foods that lack enzymes such as cooked, processed, and pasteurized foods.  These foods tend to deplete our bodies of the enzymes needed to properly digest food which, obviously, can lead to poor digestion.  Aside from eating foods that lack enzymes other factors can deplete our bodies of enzymes.  Things like stress and not getting enough rest.  So......processed foods, stress, and inadequate rest.......does that sound like very many people in the U.S. today?

Enzymes, however, are not the only thing affected by our lifestyles. Most of us understand the vital role Probiotics and Antioxidants play in fighting disease and infection in our bodies.  Many people, unfortunately are not getting enough of these to keep their immune system strong (while coping with things like stress and inadequate rest) and as a result are constantly getting beat up by every "bug" that comes along.  If our bodies don't have the tools they needs to fight disease they will succumb to it.

Synergy Defense has Enzymes, Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Antioxidants.  Most Probiotics have a poor shelf life and lose potency very quickly and even if you get them right away most won't make it past the acids in the stomach.  To avoid this common problem the Probiotics in Synergy Defense have been microencapsulated to ensure that they make it all the way to your intestine in a usable state.
If you know anyone who is stressed out, doesn't get enough rest, has occasional digestive issues, or probably doesn't eat as good as they know they should, they might want to check out Synergy Defense on Amador County's Online Health Food Store.

Synergy Defense

Boost your immune system and improve your digestion with this Mediterranean blend.  Ancient Wisdom for The New You is proud to present Synergy Defense as Product of the Month.  Click Here for ingredients, etc.

Qi Gong Massage for Stress Relief - Part 1

Here is a short video I put together to teach you all some massage techniques you can use to relieve stress.  They are mostly put together from Qi Gong exercises that I learned in China as well as acupressure points.  This is "Part 1" the second part should be up within the next week or two.....so stay tuned.  :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Just Got Back

I just got back from the "Rise and Shine" Qi Gong session in Detert Park and it was really, really refreshing.  :)  Thank you to all those who came out to rejuvenate your mind and body with me!  The weather this morning was a little strange, but all that Qi Gong has me feeling wonderful and ready for the weekend in spite of the odd weather! 

If anyone is interested in coming to a "Rise and Shine" Qi Gong Session in Detert Park we will be having another one next Saturday (Sept. 3) at the same time (6:30am) and I hope to see you there!  :)

If you have any questions please feel free to Contact Me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another "Rise and Shine" Qi Gong Session this Saturday

It's happening again.  :)  This Saturday in Detert Park I will be hosting another "Rise and Shine" Qi Gong Session for everyone to come enjoy.  Bring comfortable clothes, and light jacket, and a friend to this "Weekend Recharge."  This will help you relax, rid yourself of the problems of the week, and revitalize your mind and body so you can fully enjoy your weekend. 

Qi Gong is an ancient breathing, meditation, and exercise art from China that is practiced in parks all over China every morning to refresh and rejuvenate its practitioners.  There is no charge for this session because I want it to be available to everyone.  We will be starting at 6:30am on Saturday (Aug. 27) and will go anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much fun we are having.  For any questions Contact Me.

I hope to see you there!  :D

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wellness and Weight Loss Party in Pine Grove. :)

I spite of what the title says this party is not just for people looking to lose weight.  This party is for anyone who is looking to have enough energy to make it through the day without having to depend on drugs like caffeine, as well as people looking to lose weight in a healthful manner. :)

We will be talking about products from Amador County’s Online Health Food Store (Andrew.AwarenessHealth.com) that are wonderful for helping people reach their healthy weight and lead healthier, more energized lives.

There will be samples and free booklets with healthful, “weight conscious” snack and meal ideas available for everyone who comes.

So if you're ready to fit back in your favorite jeans or bathing suit, or just want to have more energy throughout your day, come check it out and bring your friends. :) We hope to see you there! 
RSVP to Andrew Plitt for directions: (209) 753-7865 or andrewplitt@gmail.com

Click Here to view this event on facebook.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pure Trim - Product of the Month for August 2011 :)

I'm really happy to be featuring this product as "Product of the Month".  This is BY FAR one of my favorite products on this planet and it is something I depended on heavily while I was training in China.  Many of my students and friends swear by it and I can't blame them. :)
This month's "Product of the Month" is the Pure Trim - Mediterranean Wellness Shakes.  They are high in nutrition, boasting ingredients like 50% of your daily Vitamin D, A, and E intake, B12, Biotin, and many other nutrients.
It also contains a Protein Complex that is soy and whey free, an Essential Fatty Acids blend, Anti-Stress and Energy blend, a Skin and Digestion blend, and even a Super Greens blend.......there's quite a bit more in them, but I don't want to bore you with an ingredients list here.  :p  In fact, people seem to discover the ingredients on there own after they try these shakes for the first time.

They usually are skeptical when I give them a shake to try for the first time, but the next time I see them they are super excited and say, "I need to get some of those shakes from you!  I've never felt so good!"  ha ha!  I always love hearing that from people because there are few things as rewarding as helping someone improve their health in such a noticeable way.  After they get some shakes and have been using them for a little bit they usually come to me and say, "The other day I was reading the package those shakes come in......do you know what's in them?!?!..."  Then they start telling me about how much "good stuff" is in them and reveling in the high nutrition content of these shakes.....and it makes me love what I do even more.  :)

As I mentioned before I used these shakes while I was training in China to keep my energy up so I could keep up with the intense training schedule and I still use them to keep my energy up without having to use drugs like caffeine.  But these shakes can be used for more than just energy and nourishment, they can also be used as a means of healthful weight loss.  Instead of starving your body to lose weight they nourish your body to its healthy weight and keep you going strong while doing so. 

One of my friends and carido kickboxing students uses Pure Trim and loves it.  A few months back she let me post her story so everyone would know how they have changed her life.  Click here to read her story.

If you know anyone who would be interested in learning more about a product like this have them check it out on Amador County's Online Health Food Store.  Or if they contact me I would be happy to give them a shake to try for them self.

You can also check out some of the celebrity fans of this product by clicking here.

"Rise and Shine" Qi Gong in the Jackson Park - Part 2 :)

Everyone (including me) had such a great time at the "Rise and Shine" Qi Gong session in Detert Park last Saturday that we are going to have another one this Saturday (Aug. 6).  Same time (6:30am) and same place (Detert Park).

Qi Gong is a great way to unwind, de-stress, and revitalize your mind and body.  What a perfect way to bring the week to a close and start the weekend fresh.  :)  Just like before, there is no charge because I want everyone to have the chance to enjoy this session, but I will accept donations.

You will probably want to bring a sweat shirt or light jacket since we will be starting so early and it will probably still be a bit chilly outside.  Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes and are ready to start your weekend off right.  :)

Click here to view the event on facebook.   I hope to see you and your friends there!  :D

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Amazing Start for the Weekend

The "Rise and Shine" Qi Gong Session in Detert (Jackson) Park on Saturday morning was the perfect way to start this weekend.  A small group of people arrived at the park at 6:30 in the morning looking forward to trying something new.  A couple of them have been to my Tai Chi classes before, but we usually only spend a small portion of the Tai Chi classes practicing Qi Gong and at this event....it was all about Qi Gong.  :)

The air was cool and crisp, the park was practically empty, and the sun was just rising into the sky when we began.  We started by taking a little walk in the park to help get our blood circulating, then we practiced a moving Qi Gong set, took some time to work on stationary Qi Gong focused on breathing, and we topped it off with some very simple and invigorating Qi Gong cool down exercises that left us feeling revitalized, rested, rid of the weeks burdens, and ready to fully enjoy our weekend.  :)

After we were done everyone who came told me how much better they felt, how much more alive they felt, and how happy they were that they came.  :)  Hearing that thrilled me because that was the whole point of this early morning session.  If that sounds like a way you want to start your weekend come join us for the next "Rise ans Shine" Qi Gong session.  I'll post the time, date and location soon.  So stay tuned.  :)  I hope to see you there.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Rise and Shine" Qi Gong in the Jackson Park

Just a heads up that on Saturday (7-30-11) I will be hosting a Qi Gong "Rise and Shine" session in the Jackson park at 6:30am.  It will last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much fun we're having.  :)  Qi Gong exercises help open the body's vital energy flow and they relax the mind while revitalizing the body.  They are meditative movements that focus on breathing and mental concentration.  You won't need to wear any special clothes just dress in layers as it will still probably be a bit brisk at this time of the morning.  :)  I will accept donations, but there is no obligation to pay anything for this "Rise and Shine" session.  This is just about starting your weekend off right.  :)  I hope to see you there and please tell everyone you know who would be interested in trying this.  :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Tai Chi Class Time at New York Fitness

Since the Tuesday afternoon classes at New York Fitness will interfere with my school schedule in Aug. Natalie and I have moved that class to Wednesday mornings from 7:30 to 8:30.  Same time as the Monday morning class.  This new time will be starting on Aug. 3rd and continuing indefinitely.   The Tues. afternoon from 4:00 to 5:00 Tai Chi will be ending this Tues. (7-26-11).  I hope this new time works well for everyone.  I'll see you all there!  :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Update and Some Screen Shots for the Tai Chi DVD

Good news!  I'm coming up on the half-way mark in the editing process.  I've still got a lot of work to do before this DVD is ready for everyone, but it's coming along!  :)  I thought I would share a couple of still photos from the video footage so you guys could get your first glimpse of what's on this DVD.  :-D

This first photo is from the Qi Gong section of the DVD.  In this photo I'm explaining how to do the Qi Gong exercise called "Sink the Qi to the Dan Tian"

The next picture is from the section of the DVD where we go over the Yang Tai Chi 24 step form.  In this photo I'm performing the move called "Single Whip" :)  


And finally, this last picture is one of my dad and me working on a partner exercise for "Firming the Center." A practice designed to help you learn to maintain your balance....even if someone is trying to knock you off balance.  :)

I'm actually taking a break from editing right now to post these pictures, but I thought you all might enjoy seeing them.  :)  I'll keep you all updated as this project progresses.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Good News About Tai Chi Instructional DVD

Just an FYI, I've had several students asking me if I could make a DVD with the things I teach in class so they can work on them at home between classes...

Well, my Dad and I spent about seven hours straight filming today and I think we got all the footage we need.  Now we just need to work on editing it to get it ready for everyone.  :D

I've been working on a sash ranking system for my Tai Chi classes to add a little more structure to the way the lessons are taught and this DVD covers the requirements needed to get a white sash.

Here's a list of contents:
  • A simple warm up set similar to what we do in class.
  • The 8 Basic Stances of Tai Chi (Ji Ben Ba Shi)
  • Basic Body Movement Training and Basic Footwork Training
  • 5 Stepping practices of Tai Chi (Wu Bu) (Part of the 13 Postures of Tai Chi)
  • Tai Chi "Standing Like a Tree" Qi Gong
  • Tai Chi Moving Qi Gong Set (10 different postures)
  • The Yang Style Tai Chi 24 Steps Form (From the beginning to the end, then broken down into individual movements with explanations)
  • Proper Chinese Martial Arts Salute and its Meaning
  • It also includes our normal Tai Chi cool down exercise set which can be used after any work out or first thing in the morning to wake up and vitalize the body and mind.  
All of these, except for the warm up and cool down exercises are requirements for the White Sash in the ranking system I am putting together.  I'm really excited about getting this all filmed today.

It'll probably be at least a few more weeks before it's ready, but I wanted give everyone a status update.  :D

Friday, July 1, 2011

Product of the Month for July 2011. :)

Since the month of July usually flows with the thoughts of freedom in America and we celebrate our nation's independence, I thought I would choose a product for July's "Product of the Month" that has to do with freedom...

Because these products have to do with health, and not national independence, the freedom I'm referring to is the freedom of a person's body from toxins.   Detoxing has been a big subject amongst health gurus for many years and it's importance is recognized by many health care professionals.  If your body cannot adequately eliminate the waste it produces, that waste accumulates and starts to break the body down from the inside out. 

Unfortunately, detoxing has become a fairly expensive endeavor for those who don't know much about it.  I saw an advertisement, a couple weeks ago, for a week-long detox.  They would provide meals that were supposed to help the body detox for one week and the cost was around $200.  That seemed a bit excessive to me...

The Colon is one of the body's main waste elimination systems and it is used to move many toxins out of the body.  If the colon is working correctly it will help move toxins out of the body before they get the chance to start causing damage.  If the colon is not working correctly, however, then these toxins can begin to build up in the body and cause problems.  Dr. Anthony Badzier, after conducting a 25-year study with 5,000 cases, said, "...intestinal toxins are the most important primary and contributory cause of many health problems of the human body." 

The Product of the Month for July of 2011 is Experience.  It's made of natural Mediterranean herbs that are blended together to make a formula that has been used in the Mediterranean for over 100 years to cleanse the colon and promote healthy colon function.

If you know anyone that's interested in detoxing their body, have them check out Experience on Amador County's Online Health Food Store.


Detox your body and cleanse your colon with this Mediterranean herbal recipe.  Ancient Wisdom for The New You is proud to present Experience as Product of the Month.  Click Here for more info.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Picture of me With Grandmaster Ming Lum

When I posted the picture of Eric Lee and me I mentioned that I also had a picture taken with a Grandmaster in Chinese Martial Arts that had attended the tournament.  That Grandmaster is Ming Lum who is considered the Godfather to Two Generations of Wushu (Martial Arts) masters.  I was completely honored to have the chance to meet him and have our picture taken together.  Here's the picture.

If you aren't familiar with Grandmaster Ming Lum here is an article where he is interviewed by Kung Fu Magazine.

After I had finished my form and the judges had given my score, a gentleman walked up to me and said, "Grandmaster Ming Lum would like to speak with you."  I followed him over to meet the Grandmaster who complimented me on my form and asked me questions about where I had been trained.  After we had talked briefly he said my form was very good and told me to keep it up.  :)  Later, just about everyone that was around when he said that came up to me and said, "If he said it was good....it was GOOD..."  :)

I had such a great time at this tournament with meeting Eric Lee and Grandmaster Ming Lum.  I hope it doesn't seem to arrogant to post their compliments, but I was so blown away by them I just couldn't help it.  :D  Besides, it's not every day you get to meet a couple of martial arts legends and have your picture taken with them.  :) 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Good News About the Tuesday Afternoon Tai Chi Class at NYF.

I just got an e-mail from Natalie (Fitness Manager at New York Fitness) saying that we can continue the Tuesday afternoon (4:00 to 5:00pm) Tai Chi Classes through the end of July!  :D  How awesome is that?!

I hope to see you all there!  :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Picture of Me with Eric Lee at today's GSKA tournament in Castro Valley. :D

Here's a picture of Eric Lee and me at the Castro Valley GSKA Sid Campbell Memorial martial arts tournament.  Eric Lee was one of the people who came over to congratulate me after I performed a Chen Tai Chi form and got 29.91 points out of a potential 30.00.  It was SOOOO cool to be able to meet Eric Lee in person.  He is considered "The King of Kata" because he is undefeated in open-hand and weapons forms.  Really awesome guy.  I was personally very excited to meet him because one of the first martial arts workout videos I ever bought (clear back when I was in Jr. High) was made by Eric Lee and I've always been a bit of a fan.  :)  I'd have to say that one of the things that meant the most to me while we were talking is that, twice during our conversation, he said I need to be teaching martial arts.  :D  Coming from Eric Lee, that meant the world to me.  :)  Needless to say.....I had an amazing day.  :D

I'm planning on posting the video of my form and another picture that I had taken with a Chinese Grand Master that was at the tournament (I'll tell you the story about meeting him when I post that pic.) in the near future.  .....So stay tuned.  :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

TED talk by Dr. Daniel Amen

Here's a talk by Dr. Daniel Amen talking about brain health.  It's not a super in depth video, but it gives a good taste of what Dr. Amen does.  I highly recommend the information he has available to anyone interested in living a long healthy life.  Enjoy the video.  :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tai Chi in the Pine Grove Park

Just FYI, this upcoming Wednesday (June 15) I will be teaching Tai Chi in the Pine Grove Park in the form of short 30 minute introductory classes from 12:00noon to 3:00pm.  If you know anyone who would like to give Tai Chi a try this is a great chance for them to check it out.  :)  The cost is only $2 per 30 minute class.  Everyone is welcome to come.  I hope to see you there.  :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Awesome Weight Loss Story From a Good Friend, Andrea Newman

Here are "Before and After" photos of a good friend of mine who is one of my cardio kickboxing students and one of my weight loss clients.  She said that since she started on my weight loss program on May 23, she has lost 15 inches, 5 of which are from her waist!  :D  Awesome job Andrea!!!!!  She said I could post before and after photos so you all could see some of the progress she has made.

Here's a before photo:

And here is a photo we took today after Cardio Kickboxing:

Andrea is still going strong and having a great time losing weight and getting fit.  The other day she told me, "I have so much energy from these shakes I don't even need coffee anymore!  Now I'm high energy!"  :)
Andrea is a super awesome person and I'm very grateful she let me share her story with everyone!  Thank you, Andrea!  Keep up the good work!  *high five!*

The program she is using for energy and weight loss can be found on Amador County's Online Health Food Store and is centered around the "Pure Trim Shakes" and "Daily Complete" which do an awesome job of nourishing the body to weight loss instead of traumatizing it into weight loss.  Check it out if you know anyone who wants to lose inches this summer!  :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Self Control? Part 4

In the last installment of the Self Control? (Self Control? Part - 3.2)  blog posts we discussed how meditation increases circulation and activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for self control and good reasoning abilities.  We talked about how Tai Chi is practiced by millions of people every day as a moving meditation and we asked what about Tai Chi (compared to other forms of meditation) is so special?

Well, one of the things that sets Tai Chi apart from many other forms of meditation is that when you practice Tai Chi, you are not only getting benefits from the meditation (which strengthen the self control and reasoning center of the brain), but you are also exercising and strengthening your body at the same time.  Exercise helps increase blood flow to the brain and helps keep the body and mind younger longer.  So rather than just receiving the benefits of meditation, or just the benefits of exercise, Tai Chi provides the benefits of both.   In addition to those benefits, practicing Tai Chi requires learning to move your body in ways most people are unfamiliar with and begins to improve coordination.  This is an entire workout for your brain in and of itself which helps keep your mind active and sharp.

So, Tai Chi offers a very "whole being" approach to health.  Instead of the focusing solely on the body or mind, it brings both into the mix and allows you to exercise, calm, and develop both at the same time.  That is one of the reasons I personally prefer Tai Chi over many other forms of meditation. 

Sometimes this brings up questions about whether someone should practice Tai Chi instead of some of the various other forms of meditation available?

To me, this very much depends on a person's personal preference.  One person might enjoy Tai Chi more than they enjoy, say, yoga and another person might enjoy yoga more.  So, rather than saying you should do Tai Chi instead of something else, or that you should do something else instead of Tai Chi....I would say, try them both and see which one is a better match for you. 

A very important thing to remember when studying any meditative art form is that there is no single art that is perfect for every individual person.

I am personally a big fan of Tai Chi because, as I said before, it can benefit both your physical and mental well being simultaneously and the benefits of this can spill over into many areas of your life.  However, the only way for you to know if it's right for you is to try it.  :)

It's good for the body, good for the mind, and good for the soul.   :)

If you would like to give Tai Chi a try check out my Class Schedules and Locations to see when might be the best time for you to try it. 

Feel free to send me any questions or comments you may have. 

This is the final installment of the "Self Control?" blog posts.  I hope you have enjoyed them and have possibly learned something new from reading them.  :)

P.S. The following links will take you to the previous "Self Control?" blog posts if you missed any of them.

Self Control? Part - 1
Self Control? Part - 2
Self Control? Part - 3.1
Self Control? Part - 3.2

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Product of the Month - June '11

Since this blog is about helping people improve their health I've decided to add something new to help with that.  Each month I will be featuring a "Product of the Month" from Amador County's Online Health Food Store to spread the word about what's available at this online health food store that might help people improve their health.

Each month the featured "Product of the Month" will be listed on the left side of my blog page with a brief summary and a link that you can click on to read more about each product on Amador County's Online Health Food Store.  (www.Andrew.AwarenessHealth.com)

This month (June '11) Ancient Wisdom for The New You is featuring a product called Daily Complete which is a liquid Multi-Vitamin that has 243 different nutrients in it.  One of the reasons I'm so happy to feature this product (which is one of the products I used while training in China to keep my energy up) is that if you currently take vitamins, this product can replace over 200 different vitamins that you may be taking, which can help you save money and super simplify your dietary supplementation.  Check it out if that sounds interesting to you.  :)

Daily Complete

Daily Complete

Click Here For More Info on This Month's Featured Product.  :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Dad Just Got His Tai Chi Uniform!

Check it out!  My dad is my first student to get a uniform!  :)

Looks pretty awesome, doesn't he?

Let me know if any of you guys or gals want a cool outfit like this. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Self Control? Part 3.2

Continuing From Self Control? 3.1...

When I first began studying martial arts, at the age of 13, I heard that they could help improve a person's self control and I thought, "Well, that's just ridiculous.  If someone wants to have better self control they just need to make themselves do what they know they need to."  ha ha!  This, of course, was the wisdom of a jr. high student.....fortunately I have learned since then that this can be as foolish as saying, "If anyone wants to be able to lift 300 Lbs. they just need to make themselves do it." ...it's not always that easy.   Why?  Because we are all different.  We have all developed differently mentally and physically.  If you see a super skinny person try to lift a 300 Lb. weight and fail you would think very little of it.  You would say, "Well, it's clear that their body is not strong enough to lift that weight."  But what if you see someone make a bad choice, swear to never do it again, and make the exact same choice before the week is over?  We tend to judge that person more harshly.  We say they are "this" or they are "that" and "why can't they just figure it out?"

This is because with the skinny person we can physically see that they are not strong enough to lift 300 Lbs., but with the person making bad decisions we can't see their brain or how it works so we can't logically explain their illogical behavior.   However, one of the greatest aspects of our human bodies is that our bodies will adapt to whatever we frequently do.  In other words, that skinny person may not be able to lift 300 Lbs. today, but they could probably lift 1 Lb.  or 5 Lbs.  and if they continue to do that, eventually they will be able to lift more and some day, if they stay consistent, they will no longer be a super skinny person and they will be able to lift that 300 Lbs.  In the same way, if someone doesn't make good life choices and they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, they can start by do things to stimulate their prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that's responsible for making good decisions) and eventually, when they have "strengthened" that part of their brain, good decisions will just make sense, instead of being something they are striving to achieve. 

Since I began studying martial arts I have seen improvements in my self control and the self control of other students, particularly when studying meditative practices like Tai Chi.  Learning that meditation can increase blood flow to and activate the part of your brain that is responsible for self control is what connected the dots for me. 

Tai Chi is often described as a moving meditation and, when practiced as such, can have the same positive effects on the mind as any other meditation.  So, one of the main ways that Tai Chi can help improve a person's self control is by stimulating and strengthening their prefrontal cortex, which allows their brain to work better when it comes to decision making. 

So why practice Tai Chi when there are so many meditation practices available in the world?  What makes it so special that it has become one of the main forms of body mind exercise in China, is practiced by millions of people every day, and is growing in popularity all over the world?  Check in next time for more on that.  :)

P.S. for those who are just joining this blog, here are links to previous Self Control? blog posts.
Self Control? Part - 1
Self Control? Part - 2
Self Control? Part - 3.1

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, May 30, No Tai Chi class at NYF

Just FYI.  There will be no Tai Chi class at New York Fitness on Monday, May 30 for Memorial Day.  All classes will resume as usual on Tuesday, May 31.  I just wanted to let everyone know.  :)  Please comment if you have any questions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Here's the video of my Tai Chi form.

Here's the video of the form I did at the competition on Sat.  It's from the Chen style of Tai Chi and is a bit more aggressive than a lot of the Tai Chi forms that are practiced for health.  In my classes I start people on Yang Style Tai Chi, which is much more relaxing and soothing.  Chen style isn't started until much later in their Tai Chi training.  Anyways, enjoy!  :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trophy From Tournament

On Saturday, May 14, 2011, I took part in a GSKA martial arts tournament in Newman, CA and brought home a trophy.  Here's a picture of the trophy and I'll be loading the video of the form I did before too long.  :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Self Control? Part 3.1

This is supposed to be Self Control? Part 3, but as I was writing it, it became a rather enormous post.  So, I've decided to break it up into a "Part 3.1" and "Part 3.2"  To make it a little easier on everyone to get through.  :)  Enjoy.

Last time we discussed how simply going to a Tai Chi class and participating can help improve self control by building a habit of self control, but we also mentioned that this might not be enough to give someone a real discipline boost.  If that is all there is to improving self control through Tai Chi, then what makes Tai Chi any different from any other form of exercise?  Habitual self control (or self control that is produced by doing something so much it just becomes a habit) can be attained in almost any exercise program, diet program, financial planning program, etc.....the trick is sticking with it long enough for it to become a habit instead of a failed attempt.  So what is the missing piece?  Does Tai Chi have that missing piece?

Well, lets take a little look at the brain and get some ideas about how a meditative art like Tai Chi affects the brain.  Perhaps this will help us better understand how an art like Tai Chi can help improve self control when many other exercise programs may not.  Some of you may already know that how your brain works has a lot to do with how you handle day to day life, and whether your decisions are something to be proud of, but few people realize that their brains can be trained in a way that will increase their ability to function more effectively in decision making and life choices.  To learn more about how our brain works let's look at some information From Dr. Daniel Amen on the subject.

Dr. Daniel Amen  is a physician, child and adult psychiatrist, and brain imaging specialist who studies how the brain works and how it affects human behavior.  He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and below are some statements he has made about how our brains affect our choice making abilities.

"Did you know that will power is a function of the prefrontal cortex?   Your ability to stick with a diet, save for retirement and remain faithful in your marriage is the result of a brain that works right.   Hurting this part of the brain can wreak havoc in your life, while helping it can help your weight, your finances and even your relationships."  -Dr. Daniel Amen

"Meditation is a wonderful tool to calm your mind and boost your brain at the same time.  Meditation actually fooled us.  Initially, we thought it would calm brain activity.  What we found was that many different forms of meditation actually dramatically increase blood flow to the brain.
Last year we published a scientific study showing how a very simple 12-minute meditation boosted blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the same area of the brain that helps you make good decisions."
-Dr. Daniel Amen

As you can see from Dr. Amen's statements there is a direct correlation between how well your prefrontal cortex works and whether or not you can make good decisions and stick with them.  The part that is really exciting is that meditation can actually help improve the part of your mind that will give you greater self control and the ability to make good choices...

Check back soon for the second part of this post.  :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Awesome, Short Video Clip About Tai Chi in China

 I saw this short video on youtube about Tai Chi in China and I wanted to share it with you all.  :)  Check it out.  It's only like a minute long and it gives a good brief description of Tai Chi.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Self Control? Part 2

In Self Control? Part 1 we asked whether Tai Chi can actually help someone improve their self control.  I mentioned how I had seen it do so for several people and we asked how it might be responsible for such positive changes in those people.

Today, we will look at one of the answers.......or perhaps it would be better described as part of the answer... 

Self control is definitely a habit, just like a lack of self control is a habit. Our bodies and minds are so adaptive it just amazes me.  If we choose to do something over and over, pretty soon our minds are programmed to do that same thing every time we have the chance.  Well, this is part of the reason self control can be so difficult for many people...........many of us have developed a habit of not being disciplined. 

For some people the kinds of food they eat is where their discipline habits are most evident.  They know they should eat better, but they have developed eating habits since the time they were little and when meal time comes, their body is just programmed to grab for certain foods and not for others.  It's the same with people who eat really well.  They have been doing so for a long time and they don't even consider the junk foods they used to eat because they have reprogrammed themselves...........or they have just always eaten that way, but either way, they have a developed habit of good food choices.

When it comes to discipline and self control most people notice that when they become more disciplined and self controlled in one area of their life it tends to spill over into other areas as well.  This is probably the most basic aspect, or even possibly the "first part", of how Tai Chi can help a person develop greater self control in all areas of their life.  When a person attends a Tai Chi class and follows the instructors directions and spend that whole class duration trying to improve their Tai Chi skills, there is a good bit of self control that they must practice......usually even without their direct knowledge.  Generally that self control hides itself as "manners" or "normal behavior" because when someone takes a Tai Chi lesson they generally realize it's a much better work out than they had previously imagined and when their legs start to get tired and they start to sweat, they exercise self control by not quitting in the middle of practice.  To most of us it's just obvious that you don't sit down and quit practicing something that you are taking a class to learn, but it is practicing self control to follow that "common sense" about how to behave in a class.  That's why it is somewhat "hidden self control practice", but it begins to develop a habit of self control and discipline that can eventually begin to spill over into other areas of our lives because it starts to "reprogram" our brains and bodies to be self controlled for, at least, a couple hours a week.

But that can't be all there is to improving self control through Tai Chi, right?  Probably not, considering most people try very hard to start new classes and new habits all the time and fail.  They try to go to a class or practice every day, but sometimes they don't feel like it, or they stay really consistent for a long time then all the sudden just don't want to, or don't feel like they can, keep doing whatever their new endeavor may be.  We see it in diets and exercise programs all the time.  People start, last for a while, then quit and it's not because they didn't have enough time to form new habits either.....not usually anyways.  There seems to be a missing ingredient somewhere......what is it?  And can it be found in Tai Chi?

Check back in the near future for Self Control? Part 3 to find out what that missing ingredient is and if Tai Chi can help you find it.  :)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Just a Reminder About Tue. Evening Classes at NYF

This is just a real quick reminder about the Tuesday evening Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes that will be starting this Tuesday (May 3rd) at 4:00 to 5:00 PM.  The classes will be held at New York Fitness in Jackson, CA.  If you need to contact the gym for more info click on this link to their website.  http://www.nyftyfitness.com/

I hope to see you there!  :)

P.S.  I will be posting the second part of my last post next week.  So be sure to stay tuned for "Self Control?  Part 2"   :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Self Control? Part 1

So, can Tai Chi actually help people improve their self control?  This is an interesting question because many of the people I talk to say that they don't think they have enough self control to study something like Tai Chi.  There seems to be a common belief that self control is a prerequisite to studying a peaceful calming art like Tai Chi.....well, I'm here to suggest that the opposite may be true. 

I have seen many people who lacked greatly in self control when they began to study Tai Chi, or other similar arts, slowly begin to become more and more calm, collected, and self controlled in their approach to life.  They began to focus more clearly on actions and the outcomes of those actions.  They eventually became more and more consistent with making good choices in areas where they normally would have chosen poorly.....even if they knew the outcome of a poor choice would be extremely undesirable.  Everything from eating habits, to sleeping habits, to work ethics all seemed to be improved after consistently studying Tai Chi, or similar meditative arts, over varying periods of time.

Why is that?  What brought about these changes?  Is there some kind of magic to Tai Chi that caused them to change or is there a sensible reason for these changes that can be explained?  Check back in the near future for "Part 2" of this post to find out some of the possible answers and see if Tai Chi could possibly help someone you know make better life choices.  :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An article by the Mayo Health Clinic about the health benefits of Tai Chi

I came across this article today and I wanted to share it.  It's not anything deep, but it does a good job of listing out some of the health benefits of Tai Chi as well as some of the basic concepts of Tai Chi.  There are two pages, so be sure to click the "next" button at the end of the first page to see the whole thing.  :)  Enjoy!

Click on the following link to view the article:

Friday, April 22, 2011

An interesting article about the effects of Qi Gong on 7th graders.

I came across this article today and wanted to share it.  Qi Gong isn't just for elderly people wanting to stay healthy.  In this article they discuss the benefits experienced by 7th graders after practicing Qi Gong only twice a week for 8 weeks.  Check it out.  http://www.naturalnews.com/031004_Qigong_stress.html

Class Schedule Update

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that there are some changes in my Tai Chi and Qi Gong class schedules as well as some new classes.

At KSW Karate in Pine Grove, CA the Tuesday and Thursday morning Tia Chi classes have been moved from 8:30 to 9:00.  So they will be starting 30 minutes later than they used to.

Also, at New York Fitness in Jackson, CA, starting May 3rd and continuing through the end of June there will be an evening Tai Chi and Qi Gong class from 4:00 to 5:00pm.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Recent Article in the Ledger Dispatch About the KSW Dojo

In The Ledger Dispatch's sport section there is an article about the KSW Karate Dojo in Pine Grove, CA, where I teach two Tai Chi lessons a week.  I've pasted the link below so you all can go check it out for yourselves.  :)


Monday, March 14, 2011

Latest News From Your Amador County Tai Chi Instructor. :)

On Saturday, March 12, I joined several people from the KSW Karate Dojo in a GSKA tournament in Manteca, CA.  It was my first tournament in the United States and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  :)  There were some absolutely amazing and extremely skilled competitors at the competition and it was a thrill to watch them all compete.  While I was there I showed a Chen Tai Chi form and got 29.85 points out of a potential 30.00 points.  :)  That made me pretty happy.  :) 

Here's a video that a friend of mine took while I was showing my form. 

It was great getting to see some of the students from the KSW Karate Dojo compete as well.  They did karate forms and sparring and they did a great job too!  I was very proud to be with that group representing Amador County. 

If you live in Amador County and you would like to learn Tai Chi, feel free to contact me for more info or Check out my Class Schedule to see if you can make it to one of the classes I teach.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ancients Arts from the Orient Available to You!

This is will be my first entry on this blog and I'm very excited to be posting it.  I have just returned from an extended stay in China where I was studying Traditional Chinese Martial Arts.  My goal here is to focus on the many health benefits of these martial arts and give instructions and exercises for people to practice at home.

I also want to use this blog to keep people up to date on local classes that I will be teaching and to keep people up to date on the latest news in my nutrition business.

It's going to be fun and I'm looking forward to getting started.

The first order of business today is to keep those who live in the wonderful community of Amador County, CA up to date on classes available to them.

Currently I am instructing a Tai Chi and Qi (pronounced "Chee") Gong class at New York Fitness (NYF) in Jackson, CA.  This class is available every Monday morning from 7:30 to 8:30 and it's a great opportunity to start the week off right, by calming and focusing your mind, while relaxing your body.  We won't spend much, if any, time working on the martial (fighting) aspects of Tai Chi, but the health benefits of strengthening your body, increasing your flexibility, improving your balance, letting go of stress, and calming your mind will make the trip to the gym well worth your while.  You don't need to bring anything special to this class, just dress comfortably in loose (non-restricting) clothing and sport your favorite pair of comfortable shoes....or, as some people do, kick off your shoes and just train with sock feet.  :)  For any questions you can contact NYF at (209) 223-3236 or you can contact me right here.  I'm always up for questions.  :)

The second piece of news for those who live in Amador County is that I will be teaching a Tai Chi and Qi Gong class every Tuesday and Thursday morning at the Ko Sutemi West Karate Dojo in Pine Grove, CA.  These classes will be from 8:30 to 9:30 and there will be a little more focus placed on the martial applications of Tai Chi, but this class will still offer the previously mentioned healthful benefits.  For questions about this class, contact me.

So... that takes care of all of my Amador County family, but what about everyone else out there that would like to experience the health benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong?  What can I do for you guys and gals?  Well, I've thought about it (and while it's not official yet) I'm planning to start a podcast or series of videos that you can watch online or download for free that will give you lessons to practice in your spare time.  They will never be able to replace the kind of teaching you can get from an instructor in a one-on-one environment, but it'll be something you can use at home until you can find a good instructor.  I don't have a lot of details on this yet, as it is still very much in the development stages, but I wanted to give you all a "Heads up!" to stay tuned and ready for more updates on this project.  :)  It's really got me excited and I hope, when I get it going, it will be a big benefit to you all!

Now, for those of you who are thinking, "What in the world is Qi Gong?..........and isn't Tai Chi a drink at Starbucks?" do not fret.  If you are completely new to both of these arts and aren't quite sure what kind of blog you've stumbled across, I am working on a post that will explain each art and give you a basic foundation for understanding these arts.

So stay tuned for the exciting new posts that are on the way!  :)

To Your Health,
Andrew Plitt

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Simple Breathing Exercise to Reduce Stress

So, this stress stuff.....it's not too cool.  It can raise blood pressure, lower the immune system, cause headaches, lower your mental concentration, and can even cause the body to store fat around the mid section.  (For a larger list of the effects stress can have on your body, click here to read a short paper published by the Mayo Clinic Staff)

Pretty lame stuff, right?  Yet everyone seems to have an ample supply with plenty in reserves just in case they happen to have a peaceful day sometime during the year.  It's not that any of us like stress, but so many of us have stressors piling on more stress every time we turn around it almost seems like there is not escape.  The boss is upset about something, we need a job, the kids spilled grape juice on the new carpet, we have to fill up a 20 gal. gas tank with gas prices going through the roof....you name it, stressors are all over the place.

So, since we cannot simply tell the world to go away and to stop being stressful, one of the best things we can do is learn to release the stress that we have accumulated during the day.  Some people choose to do this by taking part in activities that simply add more stress.  Although they may be fun and seem to reduce stress at the moment, they often tend to create an imbalanced lifestyle of constantly pushing yourself.  In the long run such a lifestyle tends to lead people to a place where they just feel burned out and apathetic towards life.

One of the worst parts of this whole mess is that most people that are stressed have become so used to it that they don't even realize they are stressed.  Their body is full of tension and they don't even notice it anymore.  I've taught Tai Chi to students like this.  I will tell them to relax their shoulders while they are standing in a certain posture, but they are so used to the tension they carry around all day that they look at me with a puzzled look and say, "My shoulders are relaxed."  Which, to them, is true because they don't remember what relaxed feels like, but it is very easy to see that their shoulders are anything but relaxed.  Sometimes placing my hands on their shoulders and telling them, "Focus on these points and try to relax them a little more each time you exhale" is all it takes to get them to actually relax their shoulders (some times it takes more than that), but they are always surprised by how much tension they were actually carrying when they do finally relax their shoulders.  Often the exact words they use to describe the difference are, "Oh wow..."  Simply by letting go of some of the tension they have stored up for years they immediately feel like a new person.

I want to teach you a simple breathing exercise that will help you get rid of some of your stored up stress.  You might be wondering, "How is breathing going to get rid of tension in my body?"  It's pretty simple.  In the same way that you can use your mind to stress out about something or worry about something to the point that you give yourself an ulcer (or any number of other health problems caused by stress) you can use your mind, on purpose, to have a positive effect on your body.  Simply by changing what you are focusing on for a short while you can give your mind and body the little "vacation" they need to keep on going. 

Ready?  Here we go...  :)

You can sit in a chair, cross legged on the floor or on a pillow, or even stand to do this breathing exercise.  Regardless of which way you choose to do this you will want to make sure your spine is straight.  Start by tucking your chin in slightly, and tilting your hips slightly to straighten out the curve in your lower back.  You can imagine that your head is filled with helium and is being lifted gently upward.  This will help straighten and alleviate the feeling of pressure on your spine.  If you are standing you will want to keep a slight bend in your knees.

Next place your hands on your lower belly about an inch below your belly button.  For females place your right hand on your lower belly then place you left hand over top of it.  For males place your left hand first, then your right hand on top.

Once you are here imagine all your weight and every bit of tension sinking down to the lowest part of your body then imagine that your tension is draining out into the ground.

Start by closing your mouth.  For this exercise you will be breathing in and out through your nose only.  Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth (this is important in Chinese medical theory because it connects two of the bodies meridians and allows the body to adjust and balance out more easily) When you breathe in through your nose imagine you are pulling that breath all the way down to where your hands are on your lower belly.  Keep your shoulders relaxed as you do this.  Instead of drawing your breath into your chest and expanding your rib cage, keep your chest and shoulders relaxed and expand your lower belly as you inhale.  When you exhale bring your lower belly in as you push the air out of your lungs, but continue to keep the chest and shoulders relaxed and move them as little as possible.

In Qi Gong they say that your breathing should be quiet, thin, and smooth like a silk thread.  You should not be able to hear it and it should not have an ending or a beginning.  Your inhale should smoothly turn into your exhale and vice-versa.  Try to breathe deeply and slowly.  Long, steady, smooth inhale and long, steady, smooth exhale.

When you are doing this simply start by counting your breaths in sets of 10.  Usually you will want to do at least 20 breaths per session, but you can add more if you feel so inclined.  So with your first inhale count "1" in your mind and follow that breath all the way to the lower belly with your mind, then follow it all the way back up and out your nose.  Do the same thing over and over until you reach "10" then start counting at "1" again.

While you are doing this the mind will tend to wander and will try to pull your attention back to the things that it has been worrying about or thinking about all day.  Our minds are very often unaccustomed to silence.  If thoughts begin to pop up, don't try to force them away, just let them pass by and continue to focus on just your breathing. After a while of practice your body will become more relaxed and your mind will feel more relaxed and more focused at the same time.

It probably won't take you more than 10 mins. to go through all 20 breaths so this exercise is something you can use to focus your mind and prepare yourself for the day or as a way to calm down and relax after a long day.  10 minutes is definitely worth it if it can help you maintain your health, or counteract some of the effects of stress on your body, right?

Feel free to contact me with any questions about this exercise and I hope you enjoy a more relaxed mind and body for years to come as you practice this simple stress-relieving breathing exercise. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Seasonal Health and How Qi Gong Can Help

How many of you notice when the season is changing more easily by how your body feels than by looking at a calender? 

Usually as people age more they become more sensitive to changes in the weather, but some younger people pick up on the changes in their mood, energy levels, and general feelings of well being during changes in the seasons as well.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine they understand that different bodies have different compositions and usually respond differently to their environment.  They group body types into 5 main categories corresponding to the Chinese 5 elements theory.  Simply put, depending on the category you fit, you are more likely to respond a certain way to specific external environmental changes.

Have you ever met a couple where one person loves summer, they tend to keep their house quite warm in winter, and they're usually cold all the time, but the other person can't wait for winter, they always feel the house is too hot, and they have no problem walking around in colder weather in very light clothing?  That would be a very basic example of different body types reacting differently to the same environment.  When the season changes from cold conditions to warm conditions one of those people is going to become more active and feel more energized, while the other is going to feel more lethargic and less capable of functioning as well as they would like.  The same thing will happen in reverse when winter rolls back around.
During the thousands of years that Chinese Medicine was developing they began to understand why certain body types react certain ways to seasonal changes and they began to learn that some organs become more active during certain seasons and less active during other seasons.  They realized that if you were to exercise and massage these organs, and pressure points related to these organs, you could help balance them as they transition into their "more active" cycle.   This smooth transition into their more active cycle helps keep the body's internal environment balanced and strong, which in turn helps avoid common seasonal ailments that were caused by a weakened and imbalanced internal system.  When your internal environment is having to work too hard to adjust to new weather conditions it generally becomes too taxed to effectively defend against the most recent "bug that is going around."

Early on in their study of how the body works the Chinese developed a set of Qi Gong exercises that somewhat mimic animal movements, but are designed to help balance certain organs in the body and keep people in optimum health during each different season.  This set of Qi Gong exercises is commonly called The Five Animal Forms (or Five Animal Sports, or Five Animal Frolics) Qi Gong.  This is one of my favorite Qi Gong sets and it's one of my favorites to teach as well.  It's truly amazing to me how good I feel after going through any portion of this set.

There is an animal for each season.....and no I haven't forgotten how to count.  :)  Summer has two animals assigned to it.  When I teach these animal Qi Gong sets I teach the animal set that is assigned to the current season.  At the KSW Karate Dojo in Pine Grove we are currently 4 moves into the Deer form set and we will be adding the last move and possibly some new foot work to it next week.  Don't worry if you've missed out on the first part of the Deer form, though.  I enjoy teaching and I'll work with you from the first movement if you are just starting.  :) 

When Spring finally decides to come to Amador County (and actually stay) we will start learning the Tiger Qi Gong form.

If you have trouble adjusting to seasonal changes or would just like to learn these awesome balancing Qi Gong exercises Contact Me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First Evening Tai Chi Class!

Hello All,
This is just to announce that tonight is going to be the first Evening Tai Chi Class!  Woohoo!  It will be held at Sierra Ballet Studio on Main St., Jackson from 6:30 to 7:30.  I hope to see you there and be sure to bring your friends.  :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Exciting News About New Evening Tai Chi Classes

Good news for those of you who would like to come to Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes, but can't make it to morning classes.  I just met with the lady who runs the Sierra Ballet School on Main St. in Jackson and I will be able to hold a class there on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 starting on February 3, 2011.  We have discussed doing Tuesday evening classes also, but that has not been solidified yet.  I will keep you posted on all future developments.

Here's a link to my Class Schedules and Locations for more info.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

8 Surprising Energy Sappers

Here is an interesting article that points out eight common things that people do that actually cause them to have less energy during the day.  I found it interesting and thought you all might like it too.  

8 Surprising Energy Sappers

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Great Tai Chi Class at KSW Pine Grove Karate Dojo

Yesterday morning (1-18-11) marked the third Tai Chi and Qi Gong class held at the Pine Grove Ko Sutemi West Karate Dojo.  It was a small class, but still a blast.  At the not-so-early hour of 8:30am class began and the students who were there began working on several of the basic movements that will prepare them for practicing the art of Tai Chi.  The dojo, with its support posts standing proud down the center of the room, has the feel of an old traditional dojo, almost like something you would see in the movies.  With the crisp cool air outside and the still quiet feel of a room meant for the improvement of the mind and body, we began to move.  The slow meditative feel of Tai Chi lending a still, calm inward feeling to match the peaceful feel of the room.  After working on several basic motions and beginning to develop a feel for the art of Tai Chi we focused for a while on foot work and the meanings of the movements, then brought the class to a close with Qi Gong that relaxed our bodies, increased circulation, and cleared and rejuvenated our minds.

Some people wonder what the benefits of an art like Tai Chi can bring them.  many of us have heard about Tai Chi on the television, or in the news, but never really understand what it is or what it has to offer.  Below I have copied an article from the Los Angeles Times that does a great job of describing several of the benefits of Tai Chi.  I hope you enjoy the read.

---In Harmony For Health
Graceful Tai Chi Appears To Boost Immunity, Including Helping Elderly
Fend Off Shingles
April 24, 2007
By MELISSA HEALY, Los Angeles Times
In 12th-century China, a Taoist monk known as Chang San-Feng is said to have
studied the physical movements of five animals and concluded that two - the snake
and the crane - were best suited to overpower opponents who were fierce and
tenacious. From that ancient observation, the slow, graceful movements of tai chi
were born.
Today, with the art and exercise of tai chi growing in popularity, scientists have
found that older adults who practice this martial art strengthen themselves against
an opponent as stubborn as any - the tiny chickenpox virus, which can cause a
painful and often persistent nerve inflammation called shingles.
The new study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, is the
first - and most rigorous - of a welter of rigorous new studies designed to
investigate the health effects of tai chi. Also in the works are five federally funded
studies examining whether regular practice can help patients contending with heart
disease, osteoarthritis and cancer fight off threats such as depression, infection and
the pain of joint inflammation. Other studies are looking into whether tai chi can
improve balance and reduce falls among elderly people, and improve the well-being
of patients with HIV.
"Tai chi is clearly an exercise program, but it has something more," said Andrew
Monjan, chief of the National Institute on Aging's neurobiology of aging branch. "It
seems to be somewhat more effective than simple exercise and more effective than
simple stress reduction." And older adults enjoy it, he said, making it a therapy
patients will stick to.
For healthy older adults, the study demonstrated a striking immunity-boosting
effect. After 16 weeks of tai chi classes - even before they received chickenpox
vaccine - subjects practicing tai chi showed immunity levels to chickenpox (and
hence to shingles) that were comparable to those of 30- and 40-year-olds who got
the vaccine. After the tai chi practitioners received the dose, their immune response
surged by 40 percent.
Compared with a similar group of older adults who did not practice tai chi but
received a shot of vaccine and a 16-week health-education program, those who
practiced tai chi built stronger immunity to chickenpox and to shingles. They also
showed significant improvements in measures of physical functioning, vitality and
mental health.
"It looks like a strong phenomenon, a fairly robust effect," Monjan said. Tai chi's
combination of slow, steady movements, rhythmic breathing and meditation appear
to offer a unique mix of benefits, Monjan said. It builds aerobic conditioning. It
relaxes the body's response to stress, which tends to intensify as people age. And it
increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
But which of those effects produces the powerful immunity-building responses seen
in the most recent study - or whether that effect is the product of some synergy
among those effects - remains a mystery, he said. Future studies may seek to
answer that question, Monjan said.
Dr. Michael R. Irwin, of the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at
the University of California, Los Angeles, directed the study, recruiting 112 healthy
adults in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, with an average age of 70. All had
had chickenpox at an earlier age and so had some immunity to a recurrence. But as
people age, they become more vulnerable to the virus that is left behind by
chickenpox - the varicella virus, which causes shingles in 1 of 5 adults who have
had chickenpox. The virus lies dormant in its host until a flagging immune system
allows it to reawaken and inflame nerves.
Generally, a dose of chickenpox vaccine will boost immunity to shingles, but in
older adults, that boost can be less robust than in younger patients. To test
whether the practice of tai chi had an effect on immunity to varicella (and hence, to
herpes zoster), Irwin divided the healthy adults into two groups. Although all
received a dose of varicella vaccine, half also received 120 minutes a week of tai chi
for 16 weeks, while the other half got 120 minutes per week of class time on a
variety of health-related topics.
Even before the vaccine was administered after 16 weeks, the stronger immune
response of the tai chi group, as compared with that of the group receiving general
health instruction, was striking, Irwin said.
The tai chi group showed an effect similar to already having had the vaccine. After
members of both groups got a dose of vaccine, the tai chi group's immune response
picked up more steam and was almost twice as strong as that of the group that did
not practice tai chi by the end of the study.
"There's a huge number of people who are not being adequately treated with the
vaccine, because older adults often do not show a full response to vaccine," Irwin
said. "That's what's kind of nice," he added, "that when you add a behavioral
intervention, it boosts the effects of the vaccine. ... The benefit was really found in
the combination."
That powerful combination of medicine and behavior, Monjan said, underscored the
important link between physical and psychological health and pointed to a new way
- in this case, a pleasant and accessible form of exercise - to help combat the many
chronic conditions that accelerate with age.
Perhaps most encouraging, Irwin and Monjan said, is how readily accepted tai chi is
by older adults who try it. The slow, dance-like movements require intense
concentration and body awareness - both of which appear to contribute to its
meditative, stress-reducing effects. Trying tai chi does not require a high level of
conditioning or special skill, Irwin said. It is gentle on stiff joints and muscles and is
accessible even to people with physical limitations such as chronic obstructive
pulmonary disorder.
For 78-year-old Robert L. Smith and 74-year-old Genevieve Marcus of Los Angeles,
both participants in Irwin's trial, tai chi was a new form of exercise. But it became
one that the married couple adopted as a daily morning ritual. Smith, who has had
knee and hip replacement and says he's "fast at everything," said he found that tai
chi calmed and energized him. Marcus said it helped her hone and maintain her
balance and had become a welcome, meditative part of her day.
"We feel in harmony" after conducting the slow-steady dawn sessions, Smith said.
"We've just made it part of our routine." ---

Classes are still being offered at the KSW Karate dojo in Pine Grove, CA every Tuesday and Thursday Morning from 8:30 to 9:30 and at New York Fitness every Monday morning from 7:30 to 8:30.  For those of you who cannot make it to morning class I am in the process of finding a place to have evening classes and will post new information about that as it is available.  :)