The "Relaxation Tai Chi - Waves and Clouds" exercises taught by Longwater Tai Chi are based on the very popular 18 move Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi set. The movements are performed with music and are relaxing and easy to follow. In our evening classes the movements are taught with a focus on being a useful foundation for learning a tai chi form with us. In our ‘Tai Chi for the Brain’ sessions, a simplified version of the set is taught and can be done sitting on a chair or standing. In our other day time drop-in sessions, the movements can be adapted to suit each class.
Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi is practised around the world by over 10 million people. It is based on some of the movements from Yang style tai chi chuan and this gentle, flowing qigong exercise set is deeply relaxing and pleasant to perform. It was developed in 1979 by Professor Lin Hou-Sheng and is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of the practitioner. The gentle rocking and stretching movements improve circulation, digestion and balance. The controlled breathing and chest exercises are good for lung conditions and the general holistic effect of the set is to reduce stress and tension.
We learned the Shibashi set while studying in Malaysia in the mid 1980s where it had become the ‘national health exercise’. It is. We saw practitioners of many different levels of ability, from serious athletes, tai chi students and young people through to groups of elderly people who had suffered some significant health problems prior to starting. We saw a group of older ladies practising daily in a local park and started to chat with them one day. They were very enthusiastic to tell us about how Shibashi had helped them and their friends, enabled them to walk without their sticks and we met one very mobile lady who they said had initially been in a wheelchair.
The Longwater Approach
We have adapted the traditional movements to include a soft, flowing style that allows you to visualise the natural rythms of sea and sky as you exercise. We also have included aspects of internal qigong (subtle energy work, pronouced chee-gong) that we have studied for over 25 years. These include breath, spinal support, upper-lower body connection and opening or 'loosening' of the bodys joints, as well as a wide range of mindfulness techniques that follow the flow of the seasons and nourish your mind and spirit.
Many of our long-term tai chi students still enjoy the sessions alongside complete beginners.