Notes for Beginners

I've had a few inquiries from people recently asking if it was too late to sign up for a beginner's class. We started a new cycle back in the middle of October, so it's completely understandable that you might think you'd be crashing a party that's already begun if you join in now.

Here's the thing: tai chi and qigong take a heck of a long time to learn. In the grand scheme of things, a few weeks doesn't add up to a whole lot. Anybody who's tried learning tai chi or qigong will tell you that the first little while is a bit of a blur. Needless to say, if you're in a rush, tackling the task of learning tai chi or qigong will make you slow down.

That's a good thing.

Let me put it another way: how many things in your life have you taken on that you knew you couldn't master in a short while, but you wanted to try it anyway?  Like learning a musical instrument, or developing a really good golf swing (so I'm told), or figuring out how to live your life so it best suits you, tai chi and qigong are disciplines that you can spend a long time learning. They force you to be patient. Fortunately the rewards of practicing both of them kick in right away. Within a short while, with some practice you'll be feeling stronger and more focused.

Whether you started in October 2012 or December 2012 won't make a lick of difference a year from now.

My advice to you is: don't delay. If you've been wondering about joining a class and you're not sure about starting now, please do. I am still building my Saturday and Monday classes. Now is a perfect time to start.

Scheduling note: for the time being, I'm taking Wednesday classes off the schedule at the Regent Centre. There will be other classes or workshops coming down the pipe in the new year, hopefully at a time that better suits people.  As always, I'm available for one-on-one or semi-private sessions by request.

View complete scheduling and fee details here.

Hiatus, September 20-October 9 2012

Just in case you missed the note in my news bar up top, I am taking some time off and will be generally unavailable from Thursday, September 20 to October 9, 2012.

There will be no classes on the following dates:
Saturday September 22, 29, and October 6
Wednesday September 26 and October 3

Friday classes will continue in my absence but they are only available for those familiar with our tai chi set.

If you are new to tai chi, qigong, reiki and shamballa, please take a look at the pages up top. The information there will I hope answer most of your questions about what I do. If you are thinking of attending a class, know that you are very welcome and there is room in all of my classes for new beginners. Our new beginner's cycle for tai chi and qigong starts on Wednesday, October 10 and Saturday, October 13. I will respond to email and voice mail prior to those dates, but it may take some time for me to get back to you.

Grounding, Explained

Have you ever wondered what it really means to be "grounded"? It is such a new agey term, one of many that gets bandied about ("Gee, she's so mellow...she's really grounded") without any clear idea of how grounding works or what it is. Fortunately for us, we're living in an era where some pioneering scientists are starting to not only attend to energy medicine and all that it can do, but to investigate some of the mechanics behind it.

Dr. James Oschman, who holds a PhD in Biology and a Bachelor's in Biophysics, investigated what happens to someone when his or her body is connected to the earth. 

What he learned is that a particular spot on the soles of the feet - specifically, the point acupuncturists identify as Kidney 1 or the Bubbling Spring - is highly electrically conductive. The earth, as it turns out, is negatively charged. It produces free electrons. The body draws these through Kidney 1. 

Why do you want to absorb free electrons? To neutralize free radicals, those nasty results of chemical processes in the body that cause inflammation and disease. Solmaz Parazesh, writing for Research Penn State online, spoke to K. Sandeep Prabhu, professor of Immunology and Molecular Toxicology, on the topic of free radicals:
These harmful molecules, known as free radicals, contain unpaired electrons—which is unusual because electrons typically come in pairs. “The unpaired electrons make free radicals highly reactive, and in this state, they can cause damage by attacking the components of our cells, and can even cause cancer,” Prabhu says.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals either by providing the extra electron needed to make the pair, or by breaking down the free radical molecule to render it harmless. “Antioxidants stop the chain reaction of free radical formation and benefit our health by boosting our immune system ,” explains Prabhu. Because antioxidants are used up in the process of free radical neutralization, a diet rich in antioxidants is essential to ensure a constant supply.

The great news about earthing and grounding is that antioxidants from diet are not our only source of free electrons. We can draw them any time we simply step out of doors and get our bare feet onto the ground. Lying down on the ground is another great way to experience earthing.

If you take nothing else from this post, take this: one of the easiest, most pleasurable things you can do for your wellbeing is to get outside and get bare feet on the ground.

Wearing shoes, while sensible on some terrains, like gravel, will block your body's ability to draw free electrons. Rubber and plastic, major components in shoe soles, are not conductive. I've been practicing barefoot walking in the woods and barefoot exercising outside, and I am amazed at how easy it is to get used to walking on uneven, bumpy, or stick-laden ground. It's a matter of practice.

What does this have to do with tai chi and qigong, you might ask? Good question.

Both tai chi and qigong are designed to maximize the way in which your body draws energy from the earth through K1 and into the body systems. Since ancient times, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Taoist sages have known that there are specific body postures and methods of movement that will increase your ability to take in natural energies.

Think of your body as an electrical system. It is already set up with wiring (energy lines, meridians, or channels) that draw from the environment. If you're alive, you've got that wiring in place.

What if you could increase the size and durability and continuity of your wires? You would have a greater flow of energy. In Dr. Oschman's terms, you would be drawing more free electrons into your body.

You can start taking advantage of grounding or earthing any time. You can get the most out of it by exercising outside, especially if you're practicing exercises designed to help you draw from the earth, like tai chi and qigong.

It's on the long side, but in this interview, Dr. Oschman talks in detail with Dr. Joseph Mercola about earthing / grounding, its amazing effects, and how this incredibly simple practice can help you to limit or eliminate  inflammatory processes from your body.

Qigong, Now in Highly Digestible Weekly Class Format

Based on the inquiries that have been turning up in my mail, I'm making a change to the format of our regular classes. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to get to the classes you want any time you're ready, so here we go.

Please drop by any time you wish to begin lessons. All are welcome.

The biggest change is that I'll now be offering a qigong class, on Saturdays, from 2-3pm. I have all kinds of awesome material, some that I've covered before, and some that will be brand new to anyone who has studied with me, for us to work through in this class. It is going to be great. For those of you who are looking for a class that focuses exclusively on qigong, this is for you.

Qigong predates tai chi by a couple of thousand years. Some practitioners say it is an easier entry point to the world of energy arts than tai chi. In my opinion, this is definitely true if you have any issues with mobility, if you are just getting into exercise, or you are concerned about your coordination.

Of course if you are interested in qigong and none of those issues concern you, we can offer a workout that will challenge you physically and help you develop a strong meditative focus.

Qigong is incredibly sophisticated. Like tai chi it has layers and layers, so there is no end to the self-exploration you can do, and no end to the technique you'll learn. It just gets better and better. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll reap the benefits.

I will, of course, continue to offer tai chi. The schedule is:

Saturdays, 2:00-3:00: Qigong (Ongoing)
Saturdays, 3:00-4:30: Tai Chi Introduction / Foundation and Continuing Lessons
Wednesdays, 5:30-6:30: Open Workout (All Levels)
Fridays, 1:10-2:40: Advanced Instruction, Tai Chi and Sabre

Lessons are still $10 a pop and offered at The Regent Centre, 150 Locke Street South. Contact me for details at or 905 521 0043.

Qigong (Chi Kung) Workshop in Hamilton, Sunday, February 26 2012

As living beings, we have access to the abundant flow of energy that surrounds us at all times. With stress, injury, or illness, the flow of energy becomes stifled.

Qigong - or "energy work" - is an ancient Chinese practice that uses mental focus, deep, natural breathing, correct posture, and gentle movement to release any tensions, scar tissue, or stale emotional patterns that block the flow of qi. When qi flow is restored, you feel refreshed, balanced, and peaceful.

We are offering a three-hour qigong workshop on Sunday, February 26, 2012. No prior experience is required. All skill levels and abilities welcome.

Time: 1-4 pm
Location: Regent Centre, 150 Locke Street South (next to Starbuck's)
Fee: $75 
($50 for tai chi students enrolled at the Regent Centre)

The afternoon will include instruction in standing qigong meditation, guided visualization exercises to help you relax, and an introduction to a qigong routine that you can practice at home. You'll receive a handout to take with you to remind you of what you've learned. Refreshments provided.

Enrollment is limited. Contact Melissa at or (905) 521-0043 for more information or to register.