PT: Explain the basic concept of Tai Chi – as a practice and healing medium
Kashmira: TAICHI CHUAN is an approximately 5000 year old Chinese internal martial art. Popularly called ‘meditation in movement’ due to its slow, graceful, almost dancelike moves, it focuses on the body’s energy (qi) flow and on breathing techniques. It can prevent and cure numerous illnesses leading to a healthy synergy between body, mind and soul. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that disease is due to an imbalance of energy (deficiency, excess or blockage) within the body. Taichi, a branch of TCM, focuses on balancing these vital energies and rectifying any blockages in the qi flow. This improves every aspect of life from immunity to general fitness, and from creativity to mental acuity. At very least it helps one recuperate faster from illness and is immensely calming and grounding.
Some common ailments that have been successfully treated with Taichi include arthritis, frozen shoulder, Type 2 diabetes, BP, insomnia, weakness in legs and issues related to the back and spine, digestive and alimentary system, and lungs.
PT: Why has there been a recent surge in the demand for Tai Chi?
Kashmira: Increasingly, people are seeking recourse in alternative healing systems. Taichi integrates the benefits of the traditional with the strengths of the modern. Truly versatile, it allows for different levels of flexibility with almost equal benefit. This would explain the surge in popularity the art is currently enjoying world over.
PT: What does a career in Tai Chi call for?
Kashmira: Taichi is a ‘holistic’ art. This ‘calling’ demands dedication, determination, drive and sacrifice. But above all it calls for understanding, compassion and acceptance of human foibles. The ability to help people from all walks of life requires patience, understanding and skill. One needs to feel the qi of the person and be intuitive enough to know what needs to be done. Different people will need specific exercises and as a Taichi Qigong Instructor one needs to be sure of what is being practiced by the students. The instructor plays the role of a guru so that the student can progress towards health and happiness.
PT: What would you advise those who wish to become instructors in Taichi?
Kashmira: The main criterion you need to possess is a real passion for this healing art. Enrol in a good Taichi class and be sure of the master you train under. The moves may seem relatively easy but incorporating them with energy, breathing and intent will take time. Practice regularly and maintain focus. Do not rush into teaching once you know the basics. Take time to internalize the process. A good instructor may need to play the roles of mentor, counsellor and healer, all rolled into one. Believe and focus on the art, all else will follow. If you are able to manage the occasional physical challenge in class and have the presence of mind to apply what you have learnt you will make a good Taichi Instructor.
PT: Tell us about your journey and a brief about your organization – ‘The TAI-QI TOUCH’?
Kashmira: My husband Dr. Brijesh Raj and I were introduced to Taichi nearly fourteen years ago. What began as experiential soon became a calling. In spite of being professionals in their respective fields, we have given dedicated time, practice and attention to this art. Our Taichi journey began under Sifu Carlton Hill’s tutelage. We continue to be students in Carlton Hills Tao Taiji Qigong (CHTTQ) and have participated in, and conducted numerous demonstrations with Sifu. We are instructors in his organization and assist him in training workshops and courses. The greatest gift we received was when Sifu Carlton Hill gave us his blessings and urged us to start a class. This was how The TAI-QI TOUCH was born. What better reward for a student than to have the master trust in our ability to carry his legacy forward.