Paul Cavel is the founder of Tao Arts London, editor of the monthly Tao journal, Inner Quest, life coach and senior Tao meditation arts teacher. Since 1987, Paul has studied nei gong science, the I Ching and Lao Tzu’s Water tradition of Taoism in-depth, including qi gong, tai chi, bagua zhang, Taoist breathing, Taoist yoga, qi gong tui na energy healing and meditation.
Bagua is first and foremost about the feet and legs, so any good training starts with learning and developing Circle Walking stepping techniques. In the monastic bagua tradition that I teach (for health, fitness, stress relief and meditation), there are two kinds of stepping:
Traditional mud walking
Regardless of which type you choose, you don’t want to bob up and down like you’re on a boat at sea.
The most common area that people hold stress and tension is undoubtedly the neck, shoulders and upper back. If you need some comic relief, just take a look at the way some people drive with their shoulders up around their ears while they hold on to the steering wheel for dear life!
However, it’s not only moments of intense, accute stress that causes this reaction, but all the micro-movements in reaction to minor inconveniences and setbacks while we stare at computer and television screens.
Poor posture and repetitive movement using improper body alignments have resulted in back, neck and shoulder pain that has become pandemic in the West. It’s not only affecting adults, but our youth as well. The symptoms are caused by prolonged sitting, usually starring at computer or television screens, and recurring micro-movements operating keywords, remote controls, clicks on the mouse and more. With each passing year, we are only becoming more reliant on technology, so although prevention is key, the solution (at least in part) must also include ways to expel tension and pain once it has become lodged in the body.
Check out my video with practices for a healthy spine, including an exercise you can try with a training partner to get accurate feedback!
Paul Cavel in Wu Style Tai Chi’s Single Whip Posture
Over the last two decades or so in the tai chi game, I’ve noticed that many practitioners have unrealistic expectations about what they can achieve in short timeframes. Many times, students seek to learn a form and gain a high level of skill within a period of a few months, which of course is impossible unless you’re a rare genius in mind-body-chi. The irony is that those who let go of these expectations are usually the students who advance more quickly and, more importantly, experience the deeper health and healing benefits for which tai chi is renowned.
A few months back I posted some how-to videos to help you balance your body in your qi gong, tai chi and bagua training. Now I have three steps you can take to start fixing imbalances in your body before they create greater health issues.