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About Russell-NWIA

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  1. With that said, I am really looking foward to checking out the local qigong class in town, the class seems very well organized and the teacher seems very nice and happy to teach. I think tai chi if done properly can be a very effective art, however personally I think in general tai chi has become almost the fast food of internal martial arts and I think most classes strip its true values away.

  2. Hi Russell

    I'm checked out my college tai chi class and decided, at least that class was not for me. The teacher talked in riddles and his method was to perform the sets and just let the students figure out how to follow on their own without any guidance on his part. Oh well thats what you get for a free college tai ti course.

  3. Hey Ben,

    Tai Chi and Qigong are deeply connected practices both are highly effective for energy cultivation when practiced well... to say that Tai Chi isn't as good as qigong is unnecessary splitting of hairs. Intent and quality of practice are the keys.

    That said, Qigong sets specialize in developing particular qualities of energy.

    What training have you ...

  4. Hi Russel, I really enjoyed your article on tai chi. My name is Ben and i am currently a student at UC Santa Cruz. I am very interested in spirituality and energy development. I am unsure though what to do, having been told that tai chi not as effective in energy development as qigong, what is your opinion. Can tai chi be just as powerful as qigong, what are the differences between them

  5. Introduction to Tai Chi

    Hello Taobums, This is going to be remedial for most of you but I thought I'd share to get your viewpoints on it. The studio I train and work at produced a simple introduction to Tai Chi for those who are curious but uninformed (or misinformed) about what tai chi is and what it can do. Check it out, let me know what you think. Keep in mind, this video is directed at those who are new to the art so some of the statements may seem overly simple. Here is the link: -Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  6. The Human Problem

    Thinking is tricky stuff. To a large extent I agree with what you are saying. The problem is a well known one but how then does one deal with the pervasive and perhaps innate drive to think? Suppression isn't a good bet, it occupies just as much energy to shut the mind down and is still a distraction. Think of the mind like a child. I wouldn't tell a child not to play and explore, that is it's nature and it would be cruel to deny it. From my point of view it is also the nature of the mind to think. That's it's thing so let it analyze a catalog away. However, that doesn't mean I need to sit there and watch it's process. Try to keep it simple. Anytime a thought grabs your attention, notice that you are thinking it and then turn your intent back to whatever it is you are doing and where ever it is you are. -Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  7. Hot body after tai chi

    Have you tried practicing again since you had this experience? Where there similar results? The practice and the "hot body" sensation could be coincidental rather than causative. As long as you are not approaching serious distress, experiment a bit a see what happens. That said, when we first clear blockages or raise our energy level a bit higher it can produce some odd sensations. Just relax and let them pass, don't get too caught up in them. The next time we practice often then feels comfortable and easy again. Think of it like you created a wave that washed through a channel and cleared away some debris that had been clogging it. In it's wake the wave leaves a happy burbling creek. -Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  8. zhan zhuang

    Zhan Zhuang is a very safe practice. Having a teacher to adjust your alignments in the beginning is very valuable because there are many mis-alignments we simply aren't aware of. These corrections will help you get the most out of your practice. If you don't have a teacher... go for it anyway and scrutinize yourself in a mirror to realign. The longest I've seen someone hold this pose is two and a half hours. No blood vomit. They did say the long hold cleared some knots out of their shoulder that had been there for years though. -Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  9. Internal Organ Meditations

    One of the more well known organ meditations is the Six Healing Sounds. Here's a link to the wiki about it. Take that info with a grain of salt but it correlates with my experience with the set. Though I (thankfully) haven't had to use this one to recover from any significant illness I do find it very therapeutic. It's a great set to close the day with. Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  10. Pushups as conditioning

    I incorporate push-ups into my conditioning routine in combination with yichuan and technique training. I find them to be an excellent way to strengthen the upper body without adding unnecessary bulk. I agree with you that the best way to get better at something is to practice that thing. So, push-ups don't teach you to punch better but I consider the core of my training to be cultivating a body that is strong, reliable and responsive in as many different ways as possible. Push-ups are not essential by any means but I see no reason not to do them. It is vital to cultivate the body in some way so there ought to be some form of conditioning in one's routine. Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  11. Out of your 20s, into your 30s

    Hmmm... advice to younger self. Keep it simple enough to be consistent. Emphasize Yichuan (standing meditations) Stop thinking so much about what you are doing and just enjoy the practice. Train every day.... even if you can only manage 15 minutes, that's fine just make it happen. My training has changed over the years. I've become calmer with it and found my focus. I'm still always exploring new things but have a core daily ritual practice. Other than that, the biggest difference is becoming less excited by the brain's intellectual fireworks. This equals less theorizing and more practicing. Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  12. Fasting problem

    There are many valid ways to fast. Which you use is determined by what your purpose is. What's motivating you to limit your intake? -Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  13. Letting Go

    Hello, Trying to get the mind out of it's loops and patterns is always challenging.... for we mortals anyway. I've found good relief from the approach of focusing on the state of mind I do want rather than trying to shut down the one I don't. Approaching it as a matter of tuning into the signal you are looking for and recognizing the rest of the noise as the static it is. We are not our thoughts and generally speaking, even when our thoughts are clever/exciting, they are not significant. I try to use that as my focus. Let go of the noise by tuning into the fact that something quiet under there is doing the thinking. Best of luck, Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  14. Rolfing, Alignment, and Qigong

    Hello, I hope the Rolfing goes well for you. If you are interested in muscle realignment look into Graston Technique. My chiropractor has been doing if for me over the last month and I've had some pretty wonderful results. (Be ready for some serious discomfort though) Doing Zhan Zhuang after having my left shoulder worked over was like a revelation. You are right, the combination of these types of external therapies with the internal arts practice has great potential. Free, open joints = free, open energy flow... very basically put and body alignment is just part of the picture but it is significant. Best of Luck, Russell Northwest Internal Arts
  15. There are many, many different forms of Qigong. Writing an article with hard, fast rules to be followed in all forms would be misguided. However, there are some general guidelines you can use to start a new practice or deepen your current practice. Step one: Settle into a full, relaxed rhythm of breath before your begin your practice. The quality of your breath is directly related to the quality of your practice. For the vast majority of people their breath is bound by habitual patterns and stored tension. Your goal is a state where the breath rolls in and out smoothly, like calm waves. No rushed exhales, no gasped inhales. This is your goal but if you force it you are just generating a new form of tension and distracting yourself from the practice. It is beneficial to stretch the breath before you begin your practice but then forget about it while you practice. To stretch the breath start with a simple inhale for a slow count of six, hold for three, exhale for six, hold for two, repeat. Anytime you become short of breath or tense let the pattern go until comfortable and then return to the holds. As this becomes easier expand the breath to a count of eight, ten, etc. holding for half at the top of the inhale, a third at the bottom. After working the breath for ten minutes or so relax into a natural rhythm again. Step Two: Settle the mind. Energy follows intent. If our focus is scattered, so will our energy be. Don't waste time and create tension by trying to force the mind to be silent. Instead look for silence underneath the noise of random daily thoughts. Focus your attention on watching your breath. As thoughts come up, no matter how clever or seemingly prevalent, notice that you are thinking them and turn back to the breath. Gradually the mind will become quieter. You can settle the mind as you are stretching your breath. Step Three: Relax the body. Scan very slowly through the body, head to toe, releasing tension as you go. Repeat three times. Every part of your body should feel at ease and heavy, sinking toward the ground. Now you are ready to practice your Qigong set. Qigong is movement and breath in unison. In general, unless specifically trained to do otherwise for certain movements or forms, you should maintain deep, relaxed, even breaths. Because the breath and movements are linked, the moves should be slow, and maintain that deeply rooted relaxation. As far as feeling the energy goes: Maintain clarity by bringing your focus back the the form any time you notice yourself thinking. Visualizations are used for some sets but do not fixate on what you think moving Qi, or moving more Qi feels like. Once you attach to a thought your visualization has become fantasy. Seek out a skilled teacher, someone who can offer you a full system for energy cultivation. A good sign is someone who strongly encourages your personal practice. They should also be able to offer exercises and meditations to develop the right state on being mentally and otherwise. What you want to avoid is someone who just has a form to show you, or even a few forms. Forms are just one piece of the whole and many are of limited use unless you've done the exercises to support them. Additionally, if the teacher spends too much speaking about grand theory or what the form will eventually do for you, this is a negative mark. The focus should be on the practice and where you are at now. Theory is good, but avoid those who rely too heavily on words. You can learn more about how to develop your qigong practice here.