Sunday, December 9, 2007

Great River Tai Chi Featured at Associated Bank

Great River Tai Chi will be featured in a display at the IDS Center branch of Associated Bank December 10–21. Stop by to enter your name in the drawing for a free 10-week beginner's class (value $150)! Associated Bank is located on the skyway level, 7th Street side of building, by the skyway to Barnes & Noble.

For information on upcoming classes, click here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Great River Tai Chi Featured on KARE-11

Great River T'ai Chi was featured in a KARE-11 story about the use of t'ai chi to help fend off the flu.
"A small study out of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine says that for older adults, five months of moderate T'ai Chi practice helped improve the efficacy and duration of the flu vaccine.
That doesn't surprise Barbara Davis, director of Great River T'ai Chi in Minneapolis. 'Not at all. Because I felt that in myself, when I began T'ai Chi, before I did T'ai Chi, I was usually getting five colds a year. And as soon as I began studying, it went down to maybe one a year. So I felt the benefits in myself and I see it in my students as well.'
T'ai Chi has also been shown in other studies to reduce fall prevention in older adults." Read the story here or view the video. See story on research report below.

Friday, November 2, 2007

November Tai Chi Practice Notes–-Posture

Good posture is essential for good health and balance in walking. With all of the occupational hazards out there--whether from working at a computer, a sewing machine, dentistry, or construction, or simply our own habits, what's the best way to improve one's posture? The first step must involve building postural awareness.
Here's a method for helping develop that awareness.
• Stand or sit in a familiar position, for example, at a computer. Notice the positioning of your head, shoulders, arms; then your chest and stomach. How's your breathing? After a few minutes, try straightening up more by making your head upright, as if suspended from the top of the head. Let your eyes focus straight ahead and your shoulders drop. Sit like this for a few minutes.
• Now, go back to your original, familiar position. Notice any differences?
• Switch back to the upright posture. Continue to switch back and forth until you're familiar with the differences.

How can tai chi help your posture? Since tai chi takes proper body alignment as one of its core principles, it reinforces building this postural self-awareness and better habits. By taking a tai chi class, you can get feedback on aspects of your posture and alignment that you might miss on your own. With the input of a teacher, and with the constant reinforcement of practice and principles, you're on the road to better health!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

October Tai Chi Practice Notes

Fighting off the flu and colds is made easy by practicing t'ai chi. Concentrate on loosening the shoulders and upper back to let the ch'i move through more easily. Let the breathing come from the belly (the dantian area specifically). Good alignment will enhance this. A few minutes each morning and evening is all it takes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How Do Tai Chi and Yoga Differ?

There are many different kinds of exercise and mind-body disciplines, tai chi and yoga are among the most popular. Both help limber up the body, focus the mind and body as one, improve body awareness, and lower stress. So how do they differ? Yoga's focus is on the internal life and health of a person, and in some traditions, on moral and spiritual teachings.
Tai chi does this too, but in contrast, excells at teaching you good alignment, breathing, relaxation, and movement, as well as application of movement. So, no matter if you're practicing tai chi as a meditative discipline or as a martial art, there's always a sense of how tai chi ideas (such as good alignment or balance) can be used in daily life both internally in one's own self, and externally, in interacting with other people and with tools and objects. Tai chi principles can be used equally in opening a window, for example, digging in the garden, or participating in a meeting at work, and so on.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Taiji Takes on Battling the Flu

Here's yet one more way taiji can help your health: it can increase the efficacy of your flu shot. In an article in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, well-known taiji teacher and researcher Yang Yang found that five months of an easy taiji and qigong routine could "improve the magnitude and duration of the HI anti-influenza antibody titer response in a small cohort of older adults.” Yang will discuss his results at a conference in September at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Yang and Great River director Barbara Davis have both been presenters together at A Taste of China and the International Forum on Taijiquan. Click here for the entire news release.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

August Practice Notes—Practice

How do you practice best?
It's important to figure out methods that work for you. Are you a morning person? Maybe more emphasis on morning practice would be better. Are you the kind of person to focus on one task to completion? Perhaps setting up practice themes for a span of time would suit you. Or is your mind typically scattered? Try starting your practice with focusing on your breathing. Do you need deadlines to motivate you? Set up goals by the day, month, or by the year. Gauge yourself by an external marking point such as an annual workshop.
You can also keep a practice log, if that helps. Marking off practice on a calendar, keeping a t'ai chi notebook, or, as one person suggests, a spreadsheet. All of these can help you focus in on the work to be done.
But remember, enjoy your practice. It's a fascinating exploration of mind and body and action.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

July News and Events

This month, we welcome for his 10th annual workshop, Weiming Yuan, a senior student of Mr. Liu Hsi-heng of Taiwan. Mr. Liu is one of Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing's senior students. The workshop will be held July 19-21 at Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota. Weiming teaches a down-to-earth approach to t'ai chi that is thoroughly grounded in t'ai chi principles and solid body mechanics. This workshop is open to students of Great River and affiliated groups. Contact Great River for information.

The National Qigong Association annual national conference "Dancing In Stillness" will be held in Chaska, Minnesota this August 17-20. This is a chance to explore qigong and t'ai chi-related topics with some of the world's leading experts, including Chunyi Lin, .A sampling of some workshops: Zhongxian Wu - Chinese Shamanic Tiger Qigong, Cari Shurman - Bringing Tai Chi and Qigong to the Schools, David Haines - 20 Minute Body/Mind Routine: Tai Chi and Qigong for Busy People, Jianye Jiang - Qigong for Diabetes and High Blood Pressure, Lawrence Galante - Basic Principles of Push Hands. See their site for registration information.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

June Practice Notes

Summer is short in Minnesota, so why not combine your t'ai chi practice with enjoying the outdoors? Find your favorite park spot--the Rose Garden by Lake Harriet, your back yard, the basketball court at your neighborhood park, or join with Great River students for Sunday morning practice at Como Park. Call us for directions.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Orr Books Closing

Long-time supporter and supplier of t'ai chi, Buddhism, yoga, fengshui, I Ching and other great books, Orr Books in Minneapolis is closing this June. Orr Books has held on for decades through these changing times for booksellers, always keeping us supplied with ideas and friendliness, and a sense of a community.
There will be an Open House, Sunday, June 17th, from 1–4 pm at the store, 3043 Hennepin Av. S. in Minneapolis. Bring your stories to share!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

T'ai Chi, Tai Chi, T'ai-chi, or Taiji?

How to spell out 太極拳 in English is always a puzzle. The common spelling is "t'ai chi ch'uan" (with allowances for spelling errors, it becomes tai chi chuan, or even taichichuan). "Taijiquan" is the spelling that is now used in the Mainland Chinese system (pinyin). All of these are pronounced the same: "tie-gee-chwan."
"T'ai chi" means "supreme ultimate" referring to the dynamic of yin and yang. "Ch'uan" (quan) means "boxing."

The name "Great River T'ai Chi Ch'uan" is drawn from the phrase in the T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics "Be still like a mountain, move like a great river." In the original context, the phrase most likely referred to the Yellow River in China. In our case, it refers to the great Mississippi River, which traverses the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, where we are located, as it wends its way southward on its long journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Why Study T'ai Chi?

Why study t'ai chi? The bottom line is that it makes you feel good. You learn to stand, move, and breathe in ways that make sense. The side benefits: improved health, balance, relaxation, efficiency of movement, and a calmer mind, all of which are also the foundation for any sport, including the self-defense techniques on which t'ai chi is built.

Join us at Great River this summer for an introduction to the wonders of t'ai chi. Classes start the first week of June. If you've done t'ai chi before but have been away from it for a while, this is the perfect way to get re-acquainted with it.

Contact us at 612-822--5760 for further information, or take a look at the Great River T'ai Chi website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

May Practice Challenge

Join our May Practice Challenge--

Practice the solo form (or repeat whatever amount you know that is equivalent to 5-10 minutes of practice) at least once in the morning and once in the evening, and keep track on a calendar--mark T for doing the whole amount, t for part, and 0 for none.
At the end of the month, tally up your results. Those who have completed 90% with a T will receive a certificate of merit.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Great River T'ai Chi Ch'uan is one of the oldest t'ai chi ch'uan (taijiquan) groups in the Upper Midwest of the United States. Founded in 1979, Great River is led by Barbara Davis and Cheryl Powers, both of whom have trained in Taiwan and the United States with senior students of the late Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing. Barbara is editor of Taijiquan Journal and author of The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation and translator of Chen Weiming's Taiji Sword. Cheryl is on the editorial board of Taijiquan Journal and has taught widely. For information on classes in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, call 612--822-5760.