Muffins for Macmillan

muffins 0918These delicious raspberry and almond muffins, baked by one of our lovely tai-chiers,  were a fabulously tasty way to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support after class on Friday.  One of the things that gives me most joy about our Devon classes is the new friendships that have been forged between people,  previously strangers in their own communities.  And how over the years we’ve rallied together to support causes close to people’s hearts, including Children in Need, Brain Tumour Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Chatter and laughter levels during our Chi and Biscuits classes are a great barometer for me about the wellbeing of our group.

#unityincommunity  #macmillancoffeemorning  #raspberryalmondmuffins


Tai chi – keeps body and brain on the go!

brain(Science photo library)

Brain training games may not provide the benefits to brain health they claim to, according to experts.

Instead, a report from the Global Council on Brain Health recommends that people engage in stimulating activities such as learning a musical instrument, taking up tai chi, designing a quilt or gardening.

It said the younger a person started these activities, the better their brain function would be as they aged.

Age UK said it was never too late to learn something new.

The council – which is a collaboration of international scientists, health professionals and policy experts – has produced a report on the best ways to stimulate the brain and reduce cognitive decline.

It said that although many people thought playing online games, such as puzzles and mind games, designed to improve brain health was important, the evidence regarding the benefits was “weak to non-existent”.

“If people play a ‘brain game’, they may get better at that game, but improvements in game performance have not yet been shown to convincingly result in improvements in people’s daily cognitive abilities,” the report said.

For example, there was no evidence that playing sudoku would help you manage your finances any better, it added.

Tai chi and photography

The report recommends seeking out new activities that challenge the way you think and are socially engaging, while leading a healthy lifestyle.

Examples include:

  • practising tai chi
  • researching your family tree
  • photography classes
  • cooking
  • gardening
  • learning new technologies
  • creative writing
  • art projects
  • volunteering

James Goodwin, chief scientist at Age UK, which helped set up the Global Council on Brain Health, said brain decline was not inevitable.

He said: “There are plenty of activities that we can start today that can provide benefits for brain health, if they are new to you and require your concentrated attention.

“They may even be activities that you do regularly in your life, such as playing with grandchildren, gardening or playing cards.

“Even though it’s never too late to learn something new, the overwhelming message from this report is that you shouldn’t wait until later life to try to maintain your brain health.”

(BBC News 02/08/17)

And if you fancy having a go at tai chi, as part of a wonderful Week of Wellness, in Mallorca, come and join us Continue reading

tai chi stars are born!

bhf cropDespite the continued atrocious weather across the South West of England, I spent a lovely afternoon with my Exminster tai-chiers, together with a film crew from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).  BHF are compiling 6 case studies of people who’ve have some form of cardiac disease or cope with some disability and demonstrating how they manage/improve/retain their health through various activities.  For two of the case studies that includes tai chi, with me!   

Let’s call these two lovely people Freda and Fred.  They’re different ages (88 yrs and mid 60’s), have lived very different lives, are managing very different conditions. Both have found something very positive in tai chi for improving their general health and wellbeing – be it around feeling more relaxed and calmer, having improved balance, increased energy levels, better mobility and stability, increased strength and not forgetting the social element – we’re focussed in class but don’t take ourselves too seriously.  Freda is getting a taste for stardom.  A long time fan of “Pretty Woman”, she “negotiated” with the BHF that they could only film her if they ensured Richard Gere came to town too!  

I’ve been pondering on what Freda and Fred have in common. The thing that springs to mind, loud and clear, is a positive “can-do” mindset, despite pain and disability and recovering from illness.  A salient reminder in itself of the importance of engaging the body AND mind in every aspect of our tai chi practise, and that bringing together of mind and body is one of tai chi’s great strengths.

I look forward to the world premiere of Freda and Fred’s videos later in the year.  As for me, I felt like the startled bunny caught in the headlights when the camera turned on me.  I’ll stick to teaching tai chi in Devon and Mallorca, Freda and Fred can tread the red carpet, mindfully of course 🙂

Tai chi cost-effective in reducing falls risks for people with Parkinsons


exercise board victoria 2010Just last year a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the regular practice of modified tai chi movements was more beneficial for people with Parkinson’s than either stretching or weight-resistance training on a number of measures.  In the randomized controlled study, Fuzhong Li, PhD, from the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene and colleagues, found that tai chi reduced balance impairments, improved function, and reduced falls in patients with Parkinson’s.

A new study shows not only does Tai Chi help to stop falls but is also cost effective compared to strength training.

Dr Peter Harmer, PhD, MPH, ATC, FACSM, Professor of Exercise Science, Department Chair, Senior Associate Research Scientist at Willamette University and his co-author Fuzhong Li, Phd conducted a cost-effective study comparing Tai Chi to low-impact stretching exercises or conventional strength training.  Dr. Harmer said Tai chi costs US $69.00 less per fall prevention in comparison to strength training. ” The data indicates a significant potential return on investment value of tai chi in Parkinson, the authors said. “As treatment costs for injury falls continue to rise these results have important implications for reducing overall healthcare costs while protecting patient health and independence.”

And for anyone wishing to start or refresh their tai chi journey, what better way than at the wonderful Son Ametler in N Mallorca, during a blissful week of tai chi, reflexology and walks.  October 5-12 2013   For details and bookings click here.  Limited spaces available.

(with thanks to Bill Douglas, WTCQD and Deborah Nicholson – AllVoices for information)

Tai chi keeps ageing at bay – it’s OFFICIAL!


hands thanks to BYPDid you know eye-hand coordination in finger-pointing declines with age in time and accuracy domains? In a recently published study however, Tai Chi practitioners attained significantly better accuracy than control subjects similar in age, sex, and physical activity levels.

The cross sectional study, by researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, examined the ageing effect on speed and accuracy in finger pointing toward stationary and moving visual targets between young and older healthy subjects and whether or not Tai Chi practitioners perform better than healthy older controls in these tasks.   And they consistently did!  You can read an abstract of the research here

Just another of the many health and wellbeing benefits of tai chi!  And what better place to start, or refresh, your tai chi journey, than at Son Ametler, Mallorca, where you can enjoy a blissful week of Tai Chi, Reflexology and Walking, October 5-12th 2013.  It’s bound to take years off you!   Find out more here.  Limited spaces available.

Best foot forward! Age is no barrier…

form cropDid you know this week is Age UK’s Fall Awareness Week when they support a wealth of events across the UK aimed at reducing people’s likelihood of falling? Today I ran two seated tai chi taster sessions as part of an event at Westbank, Exminster. Most participants hadn’t experienced tai chi before. We had fun exploring some of the ways tai chi can help to increase core stability and balance, maintain and improve mobility and just make you feel fabulously relaxed! One of my new students it turns out, is 83 years old. A very spritely 83 I think, with a twinkle in her eye, and a can-do attitude in the face of physical adversity. She’s joined the class to improve her balance (and her self belief that she won’t fall over) after a stroke, and she’s not the only one.

At the other end of the age spectrum, having made it home after these workshops, I found a facebook friend had shared an inspiring video of a 6 year old Chinese girl, demonstrating her form in a tai chi competition. Such fluidity, such focus, it was a delight to behold, and a salient reminder that there really is no age barrier to embarking on our tai chi journeys.

If you’re in Devon, UK, you can join weekly Chi and Biscuits classes on Friday, 10am, and at Westbank, 1.30pm.

If you’re anywhere in the world you can join us in Mallorca, October 5-12th 2013 for a week of tai chi, reflexology and walking bliss!