Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar: All That — and Natural, Too

image courtesy Health4Us
Open a bottle of apple cider vinegar for a plethora of health benefits.
Need a little help lowering your blood sugar? Pour two teaspoons into part of your meal; healthy diners will see a 20 percent drop in post-meal blood glucose.
Improve your skin health by taking a teaspoon or two a day, diluted — or apply it undiluted directly on your skin to relieve sunburn or heal blemishes.
Sinus problems? Indigestion? More relief is in the bottle, according to WebMD and IDEA Fitness Journal. A teaspoon or two in a glass of water could help settle a sour stomach, prevent indigestion (if taken before a meal) and drain sinuses.
Hair conditioner? Fever reducer? Cure for hiccups? Yep, yep and yep.
Have you tried any of these remedies? Or have you used apple cider vinegar for a different ailment?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Wu Chi Position, or How to Increase Chi Flow

If you have been practicing Tai Chi Chuan for a couple of years abut you do not not feel chi flow through your entire body, check your body positioning.

Get into your best wu chi position. Have someone take a picture of your positioning.

Now, ask yourself the following questions about your position:

  1. Back: slightly rounded?
  2. Crown of your head: pointed upward. (chin slightly and gently tucked downward).
  3. Hips: tucked underneath you?
  4. Knees: bent enough? (For most people, it's about two inches.)
  5. Chest: slightly rounded and hollow?
  6. Feet: about shoulder width apart?
  7. Sole of the foot: can you feel it? (Triangle made by the ball of the little toe, ball of the big toe and the heel).
  8. Shoulders: down and relaxed?

Make adjustments as necessary.

When you are ready, form a small ball with your hands in front of your body. (Your arms should be down and relaxed, hands relaxed with fingers slightly opened).

Breathe into your dan tien. After a minute or two, you should feel your tai chi ball.

Remember, the feeling is not the same for everyone: you could be heat, vibration, tingling or magnetic with opposing polarities.

When you do get a sensation, hold it for a couple of minutes, and repeat to be sure what you felt was real (though, in most cases, there is little doubt).

Be sure to practice often — and find a class, and a teacher, in your area to help you. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions or need help finding a class.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Fried Oatmeal

What does one do with leftover oatmeal? Apparently, fry it. At least, that's the suggestion from Lucy's Morsels, and it sounds like a recipe to be tested with this oatmeal-loving family.

Choose healthy oils and fresh toppings and you'll have a tasty option for breakfast that will encourage even the most ardent of meal-skippers to make time for breakfast.

  1. Make a big batch of oatmeal. (Consider this healthy overnight slow-cooker recipe). 
  2. Pour the oatmeal into a pan a few inches thick. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate. (Cool it for at least 2-3 hours, or even a few days.) 
  4. Heat a pan over high heat, spray with nonstick spray or butter. 
  5. Cut oatmeal to the size of the desired serving. 
  6. Sear both sides of the oatmeal square - it takes a while because of all the liquid. 
  7. Choose your toppings and enjoy!
What other healthy foods can you cook differently to mix it up?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Benefits of After-Dinner Walk

Take to the streets — or treadmill/walking machine — for a short after-dinner walk, suggests Consumer Reports on Health.

According to Diabetes Care, taking a 15-minute walk after every meal has the same beneficial effects as a single daily 45-minute morning walk.

This short exercise also helped counter the natural blood sugar spike that occurs after meals, noted the study.

A short walk not only gives an opportunity for a little exercise and (hopefully) fresh air, but also socializing with friends, family and neighbors. Find a like-minded pa to join you for the stroll, or give all of your attention to your pet or family member.

When the weather doesn't cooperate, find an indoor location, such as a shopping mall, indoor track (at a local school) — and leave your electronic device at home, or at least not easily within reach.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Slacklining as Meditation

One of the key elements of Tai Chi is being mindful of what you are doing at that very moment. Mountain climbers have found a way to bring mindfulness into Tai Chi and meditation with a new practice called slacklining.

Slacklining involves stringing a webbed mountain climbing line between two posts or trees just a couple of feet off the ground.

The college students in the video below are doing it for a number of reasons (to impress a possible mate is one), and performers have done it for the thrill. Hardcore mountain climbers have created "highlining," which is stringing line between — you got it — two high points and walking across the crevass.

No matter the reason, however, practitioners all say the same thing: they value the focus, concentration and, yes, meditation required to achieve this skill.

Would you try slacklining for Tai Chi practice or meditation?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tai Chi Workshop with Richard Clear Set for September 20-22

Spend the weekend with Richard Clear and learn  chi gung, hua jin, chan zu jin and more in five workshops scheduled September 20-22 in Fairfax, Va.

Workshos will include:

  • Chi Gung Healing Workshop
  • Hua Jin / Borrowing Energy
  • Chan Zu Jin / Spiraling Energy
  • Internal Power through Push Hands
  • Freestyle Fighting the Tai Chi Way

Check out Sigung Clear's video on jin energy (below), or visit his YouTube channel.

Hope to see you in Fairfax this weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Cajun-Seasoned Vegetarian Gumbo

Here are two words few people put together: vegetarian gumbo.

Cajun-seasoned vegetarian gumbo, to be precise.

Better Homes and Gardens has a simple slow-cooker version — with only five ingredients! 

Makes: 6 servings
Prep 10 minsSlow Cook 6-8 hrs (low) or 3-4 hours (high)
  • 215 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 128 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 116 ounce package frozen sweet peppers and onion stir-fry vegetables
  • 2cups frozen cut okra
  • 2 - 3teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • Hot cooked white or brown rice (optional)
  • Chopped green onions (optional)

1.In a 3-1/2- to 4-1/2-quart slow cooker combine beans, tomatoes, frozen stir-fry vegetables, okra, and Cajun seasoning.
2.Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours. Serve gumbo in shallow bowls over hot cooked rice. If desired, sprinkle with green onions.
nutrition facts (Cajun-Seasoned Vegetarian Gumbo)
  • Servings Per Recipe 6,
  • cal. (kcal) 153,
  • carb. (g) 31,
  • fiber (g) 10,
  • sugar (g) 7,
  • pro. (g) 12,
  • vit. A (IU) 1555,
  • vit. C (mg) 37,
  • Thiamin (mg) 0,
  • Riboflavin (mg) 0,
  • Niacin (mg) 0,
  • Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0,
  • sodium (mg) 639,
  • Potassium (mg) 467,
  • calcium (mg) 121,
  • iron (mg) 5,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Richard Clear Comes to Fairfax September 20-22

Qi gong healing, hua jin/borrowing force and push hands are on the agenda at Richard Clear's Tai Chi seminar set for September 20-22 in Fairfax, Va.

Tai Chi students from around the country will gather at Green Acres Center for the three-day seminar with the internationally-recognized martial artist. Click here for video of the teacher in action.

Space is still available. For information, visit Clear's website, Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Thoughts on Push Hands by Ian Sinclair

How important is push hands? According to Ian Sinclair, who wrote the article How Important is Push Hands? for Tai Chi Central, very important. Here is what he has to say in a recent article:

How essential, really, is push hands? Can we not learn or advance in tai chi without it? Are we not doing real tai chi without knowledge of push hands?

Push hands is a defining characteristic of taijiquan. Along with qigong, forms and application practice, push hands contributes to the physical, mental, spiritual and psychological development of a taiji player. It is seen as a continuation of the practical development that begins with the solo routine and qigong. 

Few schools teach tuishou to beginners. 

Most schools have optional tuishou classes so that students who do not wish to engage in the practice are not required to do so. There is so much to be gained from the solo practice that most student of taijiquan do very little if any tuishou practice. Even among those who do, few approach the depth or intensity of practice that is possible.

If you are seeking high level martial skill in taiji, it is pretty safe to say that push hands is essential. But push hands is useful even if your purpose for learning taiji is more health and fitness related, or you practice as a means of achieving peace of mind.

Martial arts in general are often practised more for their benefits to mental and physical well-being than for pure combat skill. The reasons for this are deep and complex.

One thing that I tell my students is that push hands - like sanshou, suaijiao, and fencing - is an excellent form of biofeedback. If you want to know if your posture is correct, or to know if you mind is clear, or to know if you are in harmony with the universe then play push hands. If you lose your balance, use force, or get knocked over, then you will know that you have some work to do. push hands can teach you what your mistakes are and help you to correct them, especially if you have a patient training partner.

If you don't have the opportunity to practice tuishou very often, then occasional practice will inform your solo practice. You can take the lessons learned in push hands and use them to refine your understanding of the forms and your qigong practice.

My teacher once told me that he doubted there were many high level qigong masters who were not also martial artists. I think this may be because martial study is a very efficient way of exposing the delusions, illusions and misunderstandings of the ego.

Every thought carries an emotion, every emotion affects the physical body. Refining these things on our own is very difficult. It is like wearing a lamp on our foreheads and looking for our shadow. Solo practice just doesn't give us an objective point of view of ourselves the way push hands does.

There are many stages in push hands practice. And there are many ways to approach it. Beginners should practise in a co-operative and non competitive manner at least until they understand the basics of listening and following. Later it can be quite vigourous.

Having a good teacher, patience, and an open mind are most important. 

Do you agree with Ian? Visit Tai Chi Center, the Global Tai Chi Community, and let him know what you think!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Shape's Formula for the Best Smoothie

It looks easy, but it can be harder than it seems.

Making a healthy, delicious smoothie is an art form, and the folks at Shape Magazine have created the infographic you can clip and save.

Read and marvel at the ease of building the Best Smoothie.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Tai Chi Goes to the Movies

Tai Chi has a place in modern cinema: just ask Keanu Reeves.

The actor is making his directorial debut with a movie that centers on Tai Chi and its application in current Chinese sports culture. In this new cinematic fete, a young fighter of exceptional talent finds himself fighting for his life in the underground world of Chinese Fight Club.

In this movie, Keanu Reeves performs with a former colleague: Tiger Wu Chen, who worked as a stunt professional in two of the Matrix movies. Chen's credentials reach back to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, another popular Chinese movie that heated up American movie screens.

Do you think Tai Chi will be positively or accurately represented in this movie? And do you plan to see it when it's released November 1?