Embrace the Moon

 

"Simply be aware of the oneness of things." Lao Tzu



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What Basic Information Do I Need?

Class Descriptions:

mTaijiquan

mQigong

mThe Luohan Gong

mMeditation

What Classes Do I Start With?

Frequently Asked Questions



What Basic Information Do I Need?

The class descriptions will give you a general overview of what we offer. The times each is offered are listed below the descriptions or you may refer to the Master Schedule for the overview. All classes are suitable for beginners except those marked “intermediate.” Go to the Instructors page to see our teachers' qualifications and read The School page for a sense of the Embrace The Moon community.

Once you decide to try a class, it’s easy!

  • You are welcome to visit or start anytime.
  • Try the specials that we offer.
  • Dress comfortably, nothing fancy and no uniforms are necessary
  • Wear shoes with a soft, clean sole. Bare or stocking feet are fine too.
  • Please, no fragrences or smoke smell. Attend to your personal hygene.
  • A restroom/changing area is available in house.
  • Yes! There still is ample street parking during classtimes; a pay station is right in front of the school, or there are 2 hour or unlimited parking spaces along the side streets within ½ block.
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 What Classes Do I Start With?

All classes will provide you with very similar benefits: relaxation, energy, coordination, balance (mind & body), joint pain reduction/relief, strength, focus & enjoyment. What you pick is very individual. Because the classes do vary and the dynamic of any classroom gives rise to its own special flavor, you may find one thing appeals to you more than others depending on your goals, your own nature, and your schedule. So at the beginning, how do we find what is right for us? The primary advice I have in this day and age is: pick the one that you will attend. Factor in your schedule, your family needs first and foremost, and respect your busy life. These classes are meant to enhance you, not pressure you. Over time you will find attending a Tai Chi or Qigong class actually creates more space in your life, but at first, just look to have some fun, learn something new (grow new brain cells!) and regain some balance. Skill, change & even mastery develop naturally, like a garden, over time. Whereas actually trying a class will give you the best indication here are some general suggestions:

  • Try a beginners series of Tai Chi or a class with a *by it on the schedule if you are brand new to movement, have a health concern, are looking for something to gain confidence. Also, consider the one month special- it is a great deal and way to try our school.
  • Join any of the all welcome Tai Chi or Qigong if you are relatively comfortable with movement and are looking to significantly improve your balance, ease arthritis & related pain and enjoy graceful fluidity in your movement forms.
  • Try Hands of 18 Luohan if you are looking for a significant increase in stretching and strength, to cultivate deep breathing, and want to practice a physically dynamic form. Try Essence Qigong or Muscle Tendon Qigong if you want something more meditative.

If you have no idea what to try please drop in for a visit. You can also take a series of private lessons for collaborative, targeted instruction for you individual direction. Contact us for a consultation.

You may also contact Kim Ivy at kim@embracethemoon.com or call (206) 789-0993 for further guidance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Qi?
Qi is energy. Energy is the fundamental life mechanism in all organic material. All life has Qi, including rocks, trees, and humans.

I see Taijiquan and Qigong spelled many different ways. What are the differences?
There are two translation systems of Chinese: Pin Yin and Wade Giles. And, then there are general omissions and errors that Westerners make to create a sense of familiarity that does not exist in the Chinese language, even when translated into our alphabet. We use Tai Chi and Qigong because they seem to be the most popular in our culture right now.

Here are the common spellings of Taijiquan and Qigong that all mean the same: Taijiquan, T’ai Ch’i Ch’uan, Taiji, Tai Chi Qigong, Ch’i Kung, Chi Kung, Chi Gung, Chi Gong, Qi, Ch’i, Chi, Ki (Japanese)

The names are pronounced: Tie Chee “Chewon” and Chee Kung (the K is swallowed a bit, almost like a “guh”) When pronounced in Chinese Mandarin or Cantonese, the pronunciations have tones but this is beyond our scope here.

How do Tai Chi and Qigong work?
Tai Chi and Qigong work through relaxation, concentration and alignment. The movements, breathing, and focus found within both systems are designed to give the body and the mind tools by which these three goals may be accomplished. Undoubtedly the key process of all is relaxation. If we are tense it is difficult to concentrate and even more difficult to align our bodies with what we want to do. Think of a hose that is kinked up. When you turn on the faucet, there is a build up above the bend and nothing below the bend; an obvious imbalance that effects not only the flow of water within the hose but the output of water to the garden. The intent of watering the garden cannot be accomplished leading to further imbalances. With Tai Chi and Qigong practice we do learn to mentally and physically dissolve tension and enjoy relaxed movement. This learned skill helps us to sharpen our focus and attune our body alignment. The purpose of Tai Chi and Qigong is for our qi (energy) and our blood to flow more clearly into all parts of our body. The outcome is a calming, stabilizing, nourishing and healing for all parts of the body, mind and emotions. Think again of the hose analogy. All you have to do is find, untangle and release the kink and the water flows evenly to the garden!

What is the difference between Qigong and Tai Chi?
Dating back approximately 5000 years, Qigong is the process of intentionally gathering, moving and releasing energy. This is accomplished through mental focus, deep breathing and physical movement. Qigong is considered a branch of Chinese Medicine along with Acupuncture, Massage and Herbs. There are many different forms of Qigong and the choreography of each varies widely. Some are very athletic, some completely still. Additionally, Qigong has recently adopted classifications such as Buddhist, Taoist, Martial, Medical and Confucian, yet its roots are undifferentiated. No matter which Qigong you practice each will heal and strengthen your body and your mind leading to greater overall vitality.

Tai Chi dates back to the 1600’s and is rooted in the internal martial arts. (Internal Martial Arts are defined as those who are non-aggressive and use principals of energy flow and softness vs. strength and hardness). The movements of Tai Chi originate from 5 key Family lineages each who had an idea of efficient and powerful movement. Each style has a meditative, fluid quality and choreography that is likened to “shadow boxing.” It should be noted that even though Tai Chi comes to us from the martial arts, most modern Tai Chi has evolved into more of a health and philosophical framework than a martial framework.

In the end, Qigong and Tai Chi are more similar than they are different. They move energy, strengthen the body and clear the mind. Whereas their choreography and feeling may differ, each is equally beneficial.

I like the idea of Qigong. Which form that you offer do I take?
They will all result in the same health and mental benefits. 8 Treasures is a lovely beginner's form. Muscle Tendon Changing is simple with some great movement and stretching. The
Hands of 18 Luohan is the most vigorous of all of the Qigong’s we offer, much like a flow Yoga.

I like the idea of Tai Chi. Where do I start?
The best idea here is to start at the beginning! We have several beginning level classes and you can progress at your own pace. Taiji is an excellent way of learning to balance power and softness, to receive health benefits and to learn a lovely self-practice routine.

What is the difference between Yoga and Tai Chi/Qigong?
The most obvious difference between the two systems is how the physical forms look. Generally speaking (and there are always exceptions) one will see more stretching in Yoga, holding postures for a time and in most cases breaks in-between the postures. Tai Chi and most Qigong’s are linked choreography where one movement flows into the next. The terminology is different in each because they originated in different parts of the world. (Yoga-India), (Tai Chi, Qigong –China). One will hear much more about “prana” in Yoga and “qi” in Tai Chi/Qigong. The inner energetics of each system however is extremely similar. Qigong and Yoga are probably the most aligned in terms of their intent. The roots of each of these systems are very old and each developed as methods to make the body a stronger place for meditation and spiritual development. Tai Chi is a newer practice and whereas it is also a practice for strength and development, it has its roots in the martial arts.

When will I see benefits?
The benefits of practice are instantaneous. With the very first breath and movement, the nervous system begins to calm down. A person becomes more focused and starts to relax. Over time, the health benefits continue to grow and develop. When each person begins to perceive the benefits is individual. As with everything, patience and practice are the keys.

How long will it take for me to learn a form?
Generally one gains a sense of familiarity with the core basics of a form in about 4-6 months. Most Qigong forms can be learned in 3-6 months. A short Tai Chi form usually takes a couple months, longer forms a year or so. It is important to remember that practicing is the key. And that these are health and meditative art forms that want to become integral to one’s lifestyle.

How often should I practice?
Practice a little every day. Try 5 minutes. The most important thing is to practice with a sense of curiosity and playfulness. The harder you ‘try’ to learn the movements ‘perfectly’ the more illusive they become. The key point is to integrate them into your lifestyle. There is a good story:

Question: “Master, how long will it take me to learn this form?
Answer: Three years.
Question: “How about if I practice twice as hard?”
Answer: Ten years.


What if I can’t remember the form outside of class? What if I practice it wrong?
The key point to practice is to simply do one little thing over and over until it becomes part of your nervous system. The idea that you are going to practice wrong is erroneous! Practice is practice. There is no right or wrong – especially at the beginning. You are coming to class for form correction – over time, trust that this is true – you will learn and become more refined in your skills. Have fun in class and play with the information and then try to integrate it into your daily life. Then, all of your movements take on a “flow” quality.

Should I learn more than one form at a time?
This is something to discuss with your teacher and to be evaluated on an individual basis. It largely depends on one’s prior experience, goals, time to dedicate to practice and personality for learning. Generally speaking it is useful to develop a basic understanding of a form or style and then add to it. Some common and successful exceptions to this would be combining a Qigong form with a Taiji form. They are naturally complementary and learning one enhances the other.

Why not just get a video or book?

Sure, why not! There are some interesting ones out there. The main reason for having a teacher is that even with a mirror it is difficult to self-correct. It is useful to have the expertise of someone to help you feel the correct movement and energy flow that is inherent in the forms. And, even though these forms are gentle, they are still physically based forms and practiced incorrectly you can injure yourself.

But I feel like a fool in front of other people!

Yup, it’s true most of us do at some point! It’s all sense of humor training. And remember, no one is looking at you; they are too busy feeling the sensations in their own body. Unless of course you are teaching! Imagine how we feel!

What is this term ‘energetics’ I hear so much about?
The term energy or energetics as applied to Taijiquan and Qigong refers to a multi-layered concept originating in China several thousand years ago. The energy system in the body can be likened to an electrical grid. The central station is a region amidst the lower dan tien and the kidneys (about 2” below the navel; ‘hara’ in Japanese systems, first and second Chakra in the Indian systems) with various other stations formed by the internal organs. From these central stations different electrical “wires” known as meridians, run throughout the body conducting positive (yang) and negative (yin) currents to the spine, limbs, appendages, brain, etc. There are a total of 18 meridians that begin forming at conception and finish connecting with each other around puberty.

The stations are originally filled with energy and genetic qualities of the parents at the time of conception. This is referred to as “prenatal Qi” or “original life force.” There is a set amount of prenatal Qi and when it is gone, death occurs. However, during the course of one’s life, one continually goes to various refueling stations: food, air, water. This is referred to as “post-natal Qi.” Depending on the quality of “fuel,” life force can be plumped up or enhanced and less of the limited prenatal Qi is used to sustain life. Certain types of exercise can also fill up our Qi reserves, Taiji and qigong among them.

Taiji and Qigong are elegant refueling stations because they not only boost post natal energy; they also heal deficiencies in pre-natal energy. The practices of Taiji and Qigong turn up the dimmer switch within the body. The result is a healthier, brighter, and more self-sustaining way of life!

I am an athlete. Aren’t Taijiquan and Qigong for older people and those who are sick?
These arts are indeed fantastic practices for elders and those with special health concerns. However, they are also excellent “cross-training” methods for those with already established practices. For athletes the style of movement integrates the calm fluidity and understanding of energy to create a great “flow state” in runners, weight lifters, kayakers, etc. as well as assisting in athletic injury rehabilitation! Most athletes love to keep moving during the healing process and this is a perfect way. Martial Artists enjoy the addition of a solo practice to their practices and often find strong commonality in the meaning of the movements. The physical nature of the practices strengthen the meditator’s body, allowing a more comfortable sitting experience and yogini’s enjoy developing an understanding of “Qi flow” and the Chinese “Dan Tien” approach into their stretching and Chakra understandings.

Are these religious practices?
No. However, people often find practicing Taijiquan and Qigong do enhance their experience with Life and Spirit, however they perceive this.

What can your school offer me?
Our school can offer you a friendly, aesthetic environment in which to learn and high skilled teachers to guide you. We focus on the structural, energetic and health aspects of the forms we teach and engender a liveliness and humor to the learning environment. Because we have such a rich offering of curriculum and teachers, we can easily co-create the program that you want, whether it is for health, strength, martial arts skill, meditation, spiritual growth or a combination of all! We salute you if you are just a bit curious or deeply committed. We will support you in any way we can.

What is the demographic of your school?
Our youngest student is 5, our eldest is 85. The average age group is 40-75. We have a fairly equal balance of men and women. The fastest growing group is people in their 20s and 30’s with next fastest growing group being fit athletes over over 75.

What are other people in your school looking to gain from these practices?

Over the past 10 years I have seen a significant shift in why people are starting these practices. These practices used to be seen primarily as a way to specifically improve one’s health. Now, we see an overarching goal of “stress reduction” and “peace.” Perhaps we are coming to understand that stress is one of the major causes of health problems and these practices have been in the news enough for people to feel comfortable with them as a part of their overall self-improvement and self-care regime.

What are the class sizes?
The classes range in size from 4 to 25, with the average size at any given time around 12-18. The practice space is about 1200 square feet so there is plenty of room.

What should I expect in my first class?
You will be greeted by one of the teachers and welcomed onto the practice floor. You will be invited across the floor and into the office/conversation room to fill out brief paperwork for our database. You will be shown the bathroom, the tea area and an alternative entrance/exit door. At this point you will probably start to see other students arriving and chatting. Class starts pretty much on time with a few minutes of standing meditation. Then we begin with a basic lesson and go from there. The class time usually goes pretty fast! You will probably experience a combination of things in your first few classes. As with learning any new activity you will probably be both excited and a little disoriented with the first class or two. However, this resolves quickly and you very soon get to know a few other students as well as feel more relaxed. You will quickly find the fun that is inherent in these practices and become skilled at releasing excess tension in your body. Soon you won’t be in your first class anymore and may realize you have discovered a Way and a practice that will support you for the rest of your life!

New Student Special
The Chinese Sage Lao Tzu says, “who ever became a good horse back rider by talking about a horse?” You just have to go for it. Try unlimited classes for $90. What do you have to loose? Spend a month and a few bucks and see what you can gain.

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email Kim Ivy
(kim@embracethemoon.com)