Tuesday, February 25, 2020

T'ai Chi Classes Outdoors in Virginia Avenue Park

As Mae West once said, "A good t'ai chi class is hard to find."
Enjoy t'ai chi Wednesday mornings in this beautiful Santa Monica park.  Classes are held under a big ficus tree and include warm-up exercises, instruction in traditional Yang-style t’ai chi, and silent practice.  Classes are ongoing so you may join at any time but please contact Pat, p.akers@gmail.com, to enroll before attending your first class. 

Wednesday classes:

9:00 - 10:15 a.m.     Intermediate/Advanced

10:30 - 11:45 a.m.   Beginners
                                      (Fewer than three students, class ends at 11:30)​  

Fee (cash or check): ​

                     Single class = $15
       4 consecutive classes = $40
       9 consecutive classes = $70   

No credit for missed classes.  You will be credited if I cancel a class.

Beginner's Class on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.

Prospective students have told me it is difficult to find a t'ai chi class just for beginning students.  If you are new to t'ai chi, I offer an outdoor class that is just for beginners.  In my 30 years of teaching, I've found this is ​an optimal learning environment for those new to t'ai chi.  You'll receive individual attention and tips to help improve your posture and balance while you learn this beautiful "moving meditation".  The class is paced so you'll have lots of repetition and time to practice the movements.

Classes include warm-up exercises, instruction in traditional, Yang-style t’ai chi and silent practice.  This is an ongoing class but please contact me, p.akers@gmail.com, before attending your first class

Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 VA Ave. (between 20th & Cloverfield), Santa Monica, 90404.  We meet on the Virginia Avenue side of the park, east of the playground.   The park has two lots, off Pico Bl. and off Virginia Ave., and you can park on the south side of Virginia Ave. (the north side is permit only).

   Wednesdays   10:30 - 11:45 a.m.  (Fewer than three students, 10:30-11:30)​   
Fee (cash or check): ​
                Single class = $15
  4 consecutive classes = $40               
  9 consecutive classes = $70
 There is no credit for missed classes. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

T'ai Chi at SMC's Emeritus College, Spring 2020

The Spring term of SMC's Emeritus College (for "lifelong learners"), will begin Tuesday, February 18, 2020. I will be teaching one class for beginning and intermediate students:

9:00-10:15 p.m., Monday and FridayVirginia Avenue Park Center.

This class practices sections one and two of the long, Yang style form.

The complete Emeritus College schedule of Spring classes is available online:

This class fills up quickly so enroll at your earliest opportunity.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Mindfulness and meditation dampen down inflammation genes

By Jo Marchan, New Scientist, 16 June 2017

Meditation and tai chi don’t just calm the mind – they seem to affect our DNA too. There’s evidence that such “mind-body practices” dampen the activity of genes associated with inflammation – essentially reversing molecular damage caused by stress.
Mind-body practices such as mindfulness meditation are widely claimed to protect against stress-related diseases from arthritis to dementia. But although there’s plenty of evidence that they can relieve stress, the scientific case for physical health benefits has not yet been proven.

Recent advances mean it’s now easier to study patterns of gene activity inside cells, and there has been growing interest in using this approach to investigate how nurturing inner peace might influence the immune system and disease risk.
Ivana Buric, a psychologist at the Coventry University’s Brain, Belief and Behaviour lab, and her colleagues have now conducted the first systematic review of such studies. The team analyzed 18 trials including 846 participants, ranging from a 2005 study of Qigong to a 2014 trial that tested whether tai chi influenced gene activity in people with insomnia.
Although the quality of studies was mixed and the results were complex, Buric says an overall pattern emerged. Genes related to inflammation became less active in people practicing mind-body interventions. Genes controlled by a key protein that acts as an inflammation “on-switch” – called NF-ĸB – seem to be particularly affected.
Stress busting
Inflammation is the body’s first line of defense against infection and injury, but it can damage the body if switched on long term. It is thought to be an important way in which psychological stress can increase a person’s risk of developing disease. Chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk for psychiatric disorders, autoimmune conditions such as asthma and arthritis, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and some types of cancer.
But the results of the analysis suggest mind-body interventions might help reduce the risk for inflammation-related disorders, says Buric. “And not just psychological ones, but even the physical ones like asthma or arthritis.”
Steve Cole, a genomics researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who worked on several of the studies included in the analysis, describes Buric’s conclusions as “spot on”. But he says rigorous clinical trials are still needed to show whether the changes in gene expression really do result in improved physical health.
There’s also a need for more studies comparing the effects of mind-body therapies with other lifestyle interventions, such as diet or exercise.
So far, the results suggest that different mind-body interventions may well all be working in a similar way. If your main purpose is to reduce inflammation to improve health, says Buric, “it seems it really doesn’t matter which one you choose”.
Journal reference: Frontiers in ImmunologyDOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670