I am sure that this has been a difficult year for everyone, and it has been particularly tough for me. In addition to the problems caused by Covid-19, I’ve had to contend with major family issues and treatment for prostate cancer. As you might expect, these issues have caused frequent bad periods that could have easily resulted in depression, but, fortunately, I was able to avoid this. The things that helped me were to remember and reflect on good memories rather than bad, keep active and busy, and TAI CHI.
My particular problems started in March, just one week after we had to cancel Celestial College classes due to Covid-19. I quickly realised that I needed to replace some of the classes that I was instructing to help keep me busy and motivated, so I started running an online class for a group from Eltham that I had worked with over the previous few years. Online classes meant that I could not watch how individuals were progressing, but as I knew the group well and knew that they were all at a similar standard, this was not critical.
In April, I started the class from my favourite remote spot amongst the trees in Westerfolds Park. My equipment consisted of my iPhone, stood up in a large old fallen log, and the Skype App. This later changed to Zoom on my iPad, set in a simple wooden holder, on the same log, or from home on wet days. Due to the limited field width of the camera, we concentrated on Qigong, Yang Form 10, and Beijing 24. These were enough to help me relax and improve both my fitness and technique.
Instructor Christina and I started park lessons for the Doncaster Wednesday group in July, but had to cancel them mid-month due to the second “lockdown”. We restarted the classes in November and hope to continue these until Christmas.
Despite my daytime Tai Chi, I still suffered occasional melancholic periods late in the evening and difficulty with sleeping. However, because I had also developed significant lower and mid-back stiffness, I re-commenced a “Seated Tai Chi”, or more correctly, a Qigong routine that I had learnt last year. This is taught by David-Dorian Ross via Youtube, entitled “Can Seated Tai Chi relieve back pain”. I started practising this routine most nights before bed and felt some relief for my back, but more importantly, it really helped me to relax and get to sleep quickly. On occasions, when I awoke during the night and had trouble getting back to sleep, I would practise the routine for 10 to 15 minutes, sitting on the edge of the bed, which helped me fall asleep every time.
I had previously taught a simplified version of the “Seated Tai Chi” form to residents at Willowbrae Aged Care Home in Templestowe. All of the moves in the routine are very similar to Qigong moves that most Celestial College students are familiar with from Shibashi Set 1 and Ba Duan Jin (The Eight Golden Treasures). For example, Supporting the Heavens and Bending Bow to Shoot Tiger. The key difference is, as far as I can tell, that doing them in the seated position involves more twisting and bending of the spine. Slow movement, deep breathing and improving the flow of Qi certainly work for me. Perhaps you could give it a try, if interested, and I am happy to help.
Bruce Ellis, Instructor
Doncaster Morning Centre
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Updated: 20 November 2020