Q: How much does it cost do I have to pay a subscription?
A: All of our classes are pay as you go, on the night. You never pay for a class that you can't attend and you never pay us in advance, except for special one-off seminars or for periods when a cover teacher is hired, to ensure expenses are covered. Our fees are simple and transparent. There are no joining fees, insurance, uniforms or other hidden expenses. We're really nice like that :) You can view our prices here: Fees and Discounts
Q: I am a complete beginner. Should I wait until the next term or course starts?
A: No, don't put it off! It's really important that you act whist you feel motivated. We can normally cater for beginners at any time throughout the year, so if you have made the important decision to do something positive for yourself, don't delay. Come along and join in with the next BEGINNERS class, or just come and watch to see if it's for you. Most importantly don't put off starting something new because you're worried you'll feel intimidated, silly, out of place, won't be any 'good' at it etc. Even the most accomplished Master was once a beginner. ASK US if you are unsure, before coming along.
Q: I have never tried anything like this before. I'm a bit worried i'll be out of my depth.
A We were all beginners once and remember how it felt to be in your shoes. Our instructor is very experienced a t easing new beginners in gently and she will be on hand a the end of a class to explain anything you didn't quite grasp. Our Resources section of our website is currently being updated with information to help you practice at home between classes - such as the Videos page which has links to various useful demonstrations of the forms and exercises we learn in class, so your learning can be supported between classes, if you want this. We also offer a range of DVD's to help you practice at home (entirely optional). we also have a YouTube channel with lots of short class recap snippets.
Q: What age group are the classes for / who attends?
A: All classes are suitable for ages 18 and up. I currently do not teach under 18's due to insurance regulations, unless a parent attends. All Qigong classes are suitable for any age / fitness level and although they are performed slowly, they are very strengthening. The range / extent of each movement is up to you as only you will know the extent of your capabilities. Both male and female students are welcome in all classes unless otherwise specified. Before coming along to a TAI CHI CHUAN class, please read the info on the Tai chi page, as it may not be suitable for all abilites.
Q My doctor has suggested I try Tai Chi but my balance is terrible - will I be able to take part?
A. This is a question we are asked a lot. Just go at your own pace. We suggest that you try a term of our Qigong classes which are easier to perform rather than Tai Chi, to ease you in more gently. Once your balance improves a little you can always switch to Tai Chi, or attend both classes.
Q: What should I wear? Do I need a uniform?
A: No, there is no need for a uniform at any of our classes although we do have our own club T-shirt if you want to buy one. The most important thing is to wear flat shoes and loose comfortable clothing. Tight clothes obstruct blood flow and circulation, reduce energy or qi flow and hamper the ability of the body to function as it should. Traditionally, it is considered good martial arts etiquette to wear LOOSE clothing rather than figure hugging or low-necked garments. We observe the rule of modesty out of respect to Chinese Martial Arts tradition and to the teacher and fellow class members who prefer not to have a hairy armpit, voluptuous cleavage or lycra clad buttocks staring them in the face. ;-P Additionally, learning martial arts or studying Qigong is a journey which leads us to a place where our ego (including what others think of us - how curvy / slim we are, how good we look, what toned muscles we have) is gradually dissolved and we realise our similarities more and our differences less.
You don't need a tai chi suit or uniform but you are welcome to wear one if you wish. Some people, including myself, feel it prepares them for practice - like putting on your pyjamas tells your body / brain that you are unwinding ready for bed. Others feel that it is the practice that's important not the old traditions and associated clothing, and this is fine too. 50% of people wear their casual outdoor clothes in our classes. and the others wear club t-shirts or other Tai Chi clothing.
Q: What is Qi and do I have to believe in it to gain benefit from the practices of Tai Chi and Qigong?
A: You will find much debate as to what Qi (or chi) is and isn't in magazines, books and on the internet. My understanding is that Qi is a bio-electrical life-force which is at the core of every living thing. At an energetic level we are all protons, neutrons and electrons and electrical impulses. Some say Qi / Chi is the earth's electro-magnetic field. Some say it is bio-electrical cellular electricity. Some say it is inter-stellar cosmic radiation. Some say it is part of the Tao and as such it cannot be named or categorised. Whatever it is or isn't medical studies have shown that those who practice Tai Chi and Qi Gong, on the whole, live longer healthier lives than those who do not. Recently a flow of energy, which the east would call Qi, has been detected in the human body using MRI type machines and finally we in the West are beginning to sit up & take notice of what the East has known for millennia. I am aware of a feeling of fullness and internal movement,sometimes heat, sometimes tingling or even a stabbing feeling, which wasn't there before i began studying Tai Chi & Qigong and I believe these to be the effects of Qi moving in my body.
Q: What is Qigong and can it help in disease prevention / intervention, such as cancer?
Q: What's the difference between Tai Chi & Qigong?
A: This is a very commonly asked question. Many people contact us to ask about Tai Chi classes, having never heard of Qigong, but after trying a Qigong class or two they find it so beneficial that they rarely miss a class. A very loose comparison would be to say that Tai Chi is a martial art, now mostly practiced for it's health benefits, which is based on Qigong (yin/yang) theory, likewise you could say that Qigong is an energy art, promoting wellness, based on Tai Chi theory - without the martial arts element.
Tai Chi forms are less repetitive than Qigong, Ifind Tai Chi is less meditative, certainly until the form is committed to memory which may take a year or two, and Tai chihas more low stances and has more stepping movement. It takes longer to learn a set of exercises as movements tend to be more complex.
If you want to unwind, relax, calm down and restore good health or have problems with balancing on one leg, then start with Qigong. If you want something a little more challenging to the mind and body, but which is still slow and soothing then try Tai Chi. Better still, try both and then make your decision :)
Q: I am a Christian / follow another religion. I've heard that Qigong has spiritual / religious origins and I am worried that this will conflict with my beliefs. Can you assure me otherwise?
A: There are various types of Qigong, just like there are various types of meat for example. Spiritual Qigong (shen gong) is one of these, but it is not practiced in our Health Qigong classes To draw a parallel I would say that beef is a type of meat and pork is a type of meat, but beef is not pork. In the same way Health Qigong is not Spiritual (Shen) Gong although they are both 'energy work'.
People who practice Qigong for health or to build inner strength may be Buddhists or Taoists or Christians, but this doesn't make it a religious activity any more than learning to speak the Chinese language makes one a Chinese national.
In our classes we do not worship anyone/ anything, bow down to anyone / anything nor recite prayers. We respect the beliefs of each individual. However, when you are in class and standing in quiet meditation, there is no reason that you cannot silently give thanks or praise if you so wish. If fact a study into people who regularly give thanks for things vs those who don't found that lifespan of the thankful was ten years longer than the ungrateful! INFO - external link
Qi is not a religion, it is physics. It is not a method or object of worship or praise. Qigong practice just puts our bodies and minds into a state of alert relaxation where the blood chemistry changes to promote healing and energy can flow smoothly around our bodies . This returns us to a NATURAL state of balanced being where physical & emotional healing can take place.
Q: What are Visualisation Techniques?
Visualisation is a very powerful technique used in Qigong - when we think in pictures the frequency / power of our thought waves is amplified. Several recent Quantum Physics studies and hypotheses say that it is the thought which affects the reality. Align your thoughts to the desired outcome and you will experience more of what you want. Visualisation techniques are also a way of training the untamed mind, so it can be used as a tool to our advantage, rather than the rampant busy untrained mind which causes so much stress as associated chemical reactions in the body which put all the internal organs under a great deal of pressure. Often we do a little guided visualisation / meditation in our Qigong classes such as visualising a place which makes you feel happy and relaxed and using the five senses to experience the scene in more depth or visualising the internal organs of the body and imagining them renewing and working as well as the day we were born and smiling at them with gratitude. We also offer dedicated Meditative Qigong classes since many people have asked for this.