Falls prevention is gaining increasing recognition as a health intervention
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Dr Lam's Tai Chi and Health Newsletter

- Issue Number 160, Dec 2014

In this issue:

Click on the title above to read the articles, and this link to subscribe and read previous newsletters. 

Hello <<First Name>>

Many thanks to my colleagues in NY for the fantastic Christmas present!  The Fall Prevention Team are doing amazing work, and now there is an excellent video presentation about their results.  Do make sure you watch it and “Like” it – and I know they would enjoy reading your positive feedback.  Meanwhile I am incredibly proud of them all!

The New York Times also featured a two-part article on Falls Prevention, which makes very interesting reading.  You can read Part One here and Part Two here

I have just returned home from my USA Fall workshop tour – and found another present waiting!  My team in Asheville NC, USA and I had great fun speaking to the ABC Channel 13 News and they aired my interview – I was so excited to see that they gave us almost two minutes – prime time is a big deal in America!  Why not share both these videos with your non-tai friends, particularly those who are thinking about including learning tai chi in their New Year Resolutions!

My very first workshop was way back in 1998!  If you were present I would love to hear from you, and all about what you have done with your qualification since. 

The TCHI board, TCHI team and everyone at Tai Chi Productions wish you all the very best for the festive season, and a great 2015.
This Month’s Special:
Tai Chi for Health DVDs make a very thoughtful and caring gift for your friends and loved ones.  Continuing our Christmas shopping theme, this month we are offering 30% of any Beginners’ Series DVD.  Offer expires 31st December, please use coupon code 1214SP when ordering.
Upcoming Workshops by Dr Paul Lam

January 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

Many other workshops conducted by my authorized master trainers are listed on the Workshop Calendar.

Yours in Tai Chi,
Paul Lam, MD
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(Dr Lam receives many letters.  Each month we feature one, and he answers any questions raised)

A Letter to Dr Lam

Jose Mateo, Participant, Lapu-lapu City, Cebu Philippines
Hi, Dr Lam

I was introduced to Tai chi through your VHS "Tai Chi for Beginners" that my brother gave me. You now have an idea how long ago I started to learn tai chi but I didn't get serious until about 3 years ago. In 2002 I bought the 24 Forms which I eventually learned, thanks to your clear step by step instructions. About 3 years ago I bought also another of your DVDs, the 32 Sword Forms.

Since there are no qualified instructors from your institution here in Cebu, Philippines there's no one to check if what I'm doing is right or wrong, which led me to join a tai chi group through a friend but practicing Wu style. I am aware they do things differently but the basic principles, I assume, are the same. Surprisingly the experienced (long-time) practitioner always reminds me to have an upright position as opposed to the serious Wu practitioner that adopted the "slanting" style.  He said this is for advanced students.

About a year ago, a painful knee problem led me to learn that I have osteoarthritis. Surfing through the net I viewed most of your instructional snippets about tai chi for arthritis in youtube where I also found the complete demo you made on the Sun Style 73 Forms. Believe it or not I learned it by going over and over the video until I have completed it. Whether I'm doing it right or not remains to be seen but if I'm not mistaken, you said, it is your basis for the Tai Chi for Arthritis. I believe it helped me as I hardly feel I have a knee problem except for an occasional pain if I miss tai chi for a day or two. Avoiding meat and occasionally taking some glucosamine supplements also contributed to my well-being.

I discovered you have a qualified TCA instructor in neighboring Bohol Island. I plan to contact her and see if we can work-out something for a possible structured tai chi for arthritis lessons. By the way, I'm 67 years old and I hope to be able to join your sessions someday. How I wish Philippines would be in one of your itineraries. I want to qualify as one of your certified instructors.

I enjoy reading your experiences in your various travels around the world. Keep 'em posted.

Dr Lam replies:Jose, I love your enthusiasm, and I am so impressed that you persevered with learning the 73 from the demonstration.  I would love to meet you some day, I hope you get to one of my workshops and become an instructor!
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Tai Chi: Buy One Get Four Free

Gurney Bolster, Senior Trainer, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
The “Health Beat” weekly emails from Harvard Medical School recently presented “5 of the best exercises you can ever do”.  Swimming was first, tai chi second, followed by strength training, walking, and Kegel exercises.  Hmmm, I said to myself.  Why wasn’t tai chi number one?   Thinking about it more, I decided that not only should tai chi be first on the list, but it could be considered the all-in-one best exercise.  Let me explain:
Tai chi includes strength training, especially in the legs and deep postural stabilizer muscles (an often neglected muscle group in conventional exercise).  Improving lower body strength, postural support and breathing, tai chi allows the upper body to release excess tensions while engaging the coordinated power of the body as a whole.  Tai chi builds strength where we need it most.

An hour’s tai chi class is much the same as an hour of walking.  Tai chi is traditionally done standing with considerable, if not constant, attention to foot placement, balance, and transfer of weight.  This careful practice of the mechanics of walking is slow, deliberate and internally focused.  Mindful tai chi walking will take you farther (and more safely) in the long run.

As for Kegel exercises, the isometrics done to tone the pelvic floor muscles, tai chi engages this area of the body with every step.  “Push down, sink, and deliver” teaches us to use the Dan-tian breathing to mobilize our energy, stabilize our core and coordinate the entire body.  Tai chi puts the Kegel into action, instead of doing an isolated (and boring) squeeze and release exercise.

And then there is swimming.  The gentle flow of water is often given as a metaphor for the smooth continuity characteristic of tai chi sequencing.  The idea of moving against the current is used to engage the subtle resistance which drives the movement intent.  Imagine the ripple effect after a pebble is dropped into water to feel how energy radiates from center to periphery (or from the Dan-tian to the extremities).  Visualize the ocean waves to enhance the sensory experience of resiliently, rhythmically shifting weight from one foot to the other.  Engaging the mind is an essential element of tai chi, too often overlooked in Western exercise.  And finally, envision doing Yang style Repulse Monkey, an upright version of the crawl without the kicking, the pool, or the chlorine.

So, you see, tai chi is the 5 – in – 1 best exercise you can ever do!

The Story of a Bear and the Search for his Identity

A “Bear-able” Story
Viola Everett, Senior Trainer, Monroe, Michigan, USA
This is a tall "tail" of a small bear, transformed from the acorn of his beginnings, overcoming adversity too terrible to imagine like birds nesting in his hair, to rise from the brush pile of his upbringing to someone of Redwood stature.
We met in St Louie. He seemed harmless so I offered him a ride to wherever he was going and gave him a shirt I had picked up at a workshop…a shirt which came down to his knees. While riding in my RAV4, wearing his seat belt, he decided to share his story to distract his mind from the high velocity the driver was employing. Honored by his new name, "Paulie," given to him by a beautiful lady, he said his name had originally been Sydney. He had worked for many years on the Sydney Opera House supporting his comrades in its construction until he fell into a deep depression called the Tasman Sea and drifted for a while.

On his last wooden nickel and washed up…on the shores of California…he took to the roads, sleeping in woods at night and finding employment among the natives. The locals began to call him Aussie, which due to dialects in different regions of the country, changed to “Ozzie”.  While walking the backwoods of Colorado, there seemed to be much discussion about a Mountain Top Tai Chi group who said they could work miracles. “What the heck!” said Ozzie, “I was down on my luck, rather short, and had fallen on Hardwood Forest times. I decided to give it a try.” He bounced around in the back of a pick-up truck until he found a “pusher” of tai chi. These strange people with bare arms, moving slowly, waving their hands like clouds, kept selling him on the benefits of tai chi. He tried it. He was hooked. He began practicing his “zhang zhoung” or standing like tree.

Now addicted to this new form, he was offered a ride to a Tai Chi Workshop convention in St. Louis.  Upon arrival, he was introduced to a doctor by the name of “Lam” which translates “forest”. This Lam guy, also called “Paul” (go figure), seemed to take notice of Sydney and suggested he join his organization. Impressed with Sydney’s ability to stand for long periods of time with his hands raised, the doctor would strike up conversations with him, sharing his sad youth and how he came by his name which in Chinese meant “Born Strong”.  Dr Paul Lam, an honored and respected Tai Chi practitioner, thought Sydney should be given a Chinese name. “You are ‘Shanti Shi’!” “One-who-stand-for-long-time-with-hands-in-air-rooted-to-ground”.

Sydney, ahem, “Shanti Shi” asked how he could have such a short name for so many words? Dr Lam replied, “Because, it is Chinese”.   Shanti Shi thanked Dr Lam and with his new name and family, new purpose and direction, he is now travelling the country sharing his story and his tai chi practice. Shanti Shi is now resting comfortably in Michigan awaiting his ride to his next Tai Chi Workshop. He hopes to travel the country and eventually arrive back home to his roots. We share a picture “Shanti Shi” sent from a Chen 36 workshop he did with Daniel Baranowski in Maumee, Ohio. We, at the TCHI, wish Shanti-Shi a long and blossoming journey. May his leaves never fall. May his bark never be rough. May his branches reach the heavens. May he find his roots.  

Editor’s note: This story is based on true events – roughly.  Some names have been changed to protect identities.
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Humour, Laughter and Radiant Health
Dr Bob McBrien, Master Trainer, Salisbury, MD, USA

In my search for materials to bring to these monthly essays I often find examples of healthy humor in the words of children. Over the years classroom  teachers with a healthy sense of humor have compiled "fractured" answers to the various tests the teachers give. The following answers to history tests taken by sixth grade children  are clever, somewhat connected to the questions asked and funny.

Remember that children in the 6th grade are 12 years old. As you read the answers, put yourself back in the 6th grade and remember what it was like to take a history test. Perhaps you created a "fractured" answer in a test back then.

*  Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

*  Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients.
* Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.
*  Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.
*  Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.
*  In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.
* Eventually, the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long.
*  Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out:"Tee hee, Brutus."
*  Nero was a cruel tyranny who would torture his subjects by playing the fiddle to them.  
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Warning: Dr Lam does not necessarily endorse the opinion of other authors. Before practicing any program featured in this newsletter, please check with your physician or therapist. The authors and anyone involved in the production of this newsletter will not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any injury which may arise as a result of following the instructions given in this newsletter. 

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A very happy festive season from the Tai Chi for Health Institute and Tai Chi Productions team!
Greeting from the Asheville Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi  for Arthritis workshop 2014
Greeting from the Vermont Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi  for Arthritis workshop 2014
Greetings from Debbie and her team at the Bridge of Flowers 
At the Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi of Arthritis workshop Anne and Bob - hosts of the workshop with Dr Lam in Asheville 2014

Dr Paul Lam teaching Tai Chi at Better Health Tai Chi Chuan in Sydney 2014

From the Asheville Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi  for Arthritis workshop 2014

Greeting from the Asheville Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi  for Arthritis workshop 2014
Greeting from SA, Australia Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi  for Arthritis workshop 2014
Dr Paul Lam at the Tai Chi for Energy Workshop at Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA Oct 2014
Jose who sent the letter to Dr Lam

Dr Paul Lam and colleagues at the America Society of Ageing conference March 2014

Dr Paul Lam and Gurney outside the Museum of Pittsburgh 2014 during the tai chi workshop.

The coming 17th Annual Tai Chi workshop will be held with this beautiful harbour view.

The Bear is right at the center, on the ground. Viola is one of the great tai chi people.

The Bear with Dr Paul Lam, Lewis (aged 92 and teaches Tai Chi for Arthritis), and Mohammed (aged 25 and teaches exercise and healing), at the Tai Chi for Energy Instructor Training workshop  in CO, USA March 2014.

Dr Bob McBrien facilitating the Exploring the Depth of TCA workshop with Dr Lam in Vermont, USA Sept 2014.

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