In September of 2017, our school organized a trip to Jamaica, staying at the Grand Palladium all-inclusive resort. Students, friends and family from the two schools in Mississauga and Richmond Hill participated.
This is the first time we have organized such an event and we were pleasantly surprised by the turnout. The spots filled up quickly and overflowed as people brought their friends and family along for the retreat and vacation. The primary goal for everyone was to take time off and enjoy a well-deserved vacation. The secondary goal was to share our love of tai chi and qi gong with friends and family outside of the normal classroom environment.
With everyone in a vacation mode, we were able to fully enjoy the practice of tai chi and qi gong among like-minded people. Here I’d like to share with you some of the activities that we had done as a group.
Qi Gong by the Beach
One of the very first activities we planned is to practice Qi Gong by the beach. The best time was before sunrise so we all got up and started our Qi Gong practice at 6:00 am in the morning. I must say it took a lot of commitment from everyone to get up so early while on vacation. The initial idea was to go for a dip in the water after Qi Gong, but most of us opted for breakfast instead.
Tai Chi by the Pool
To practice tai chi with such a big group, we had to find a bigger and more leveled space. We also wanted the non-early risers to join in, so we found an area beside the pool just after sunset for our tai chi practice. It turned out quite well as other guests from the resort also joined in.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong on the Balcony
By the 4th day at the resort, we finished exploring the whole place and found a beautiful space on the Balcony that overlooks the ocean.
The fresh morning ocean breeze and quiet serenity on the Balcony made it a perfect place and we continued our daily practice here for the remainder of the week.
Qi Gong Vitality
Almost every morning, the early birds woke up before 6:00am to join Jenny for Qi Gong Vitality practice. The session starts when it is still dark and finishes with a beautiful sunrise. The gentle sounds of the ocean waves and the faint touch of the morning rays made each day a perfect start.
Six Healing Sounds Qi Gong (Liu Zi Jue 六字訣)
Immediately after the Qi Gong Vitality session, we continue our practice with Six Healing Sounds Qi Gong. This Qi Gong set use breathing and sounds as the main component with simple guiding movements accompanying the breathing routines to regulate the functions of the liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidney and triple warmer. Here we are on the balcony, breathing in fresh morning ocean air, accompanied by our own vocals of the six healing sounds amidst the peace and quiet, it was mesmerizing.
Five Animals Qi Gong (Wu Qin Xi 五禽戲)
Following the Six Healing Sounds, we continue to practice another Qi Gong set. We have not had the opportunity to practice the Five Animals Qi Gong set during our regular qi gong classes, so I thought this would be a good time to introduce the set to everyone. There are a total of 10 moves associated with the Five Animals, 2 moves for each animal. Since this is a new set for everyone, we learned and added moves for one animal each day.
The Five Animals system was developed over 2000 years ago by a famous Chinese physician named “Hua Tuo”. It is based on traditional Chinese theories of the functions of internal organs and meridians, combined with the principles of Qi and blood circulation in our body. The exercises combine both external physical movements with internal mental focus to achieve good health.
Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan 太極拳)
We finish the session for the day with tai chi practice. Each day we would pick a different tai chi topic to discuss or practice. The topics covered include: Tai Chi Basics, Yang Style Tai Chi, Chen Style Tai Chi, Tai Chi Push Hands and Tai Chi Fitness.
As we get close to the end of the session, the sun starts to really heat things up and we are definitely feeling it. Now’s a good time to adjourn to the pool for a cool morning dip or succumb to the delicious breakfast waiting.
Looking forward to the next retreat
This was one of the most enjoyable vacations that I’ve had in a very long time. I think it was the company that made it memorable and endearing. Even midway through the week, many of us were already thinking we have to do this again. Just writing this blog and looking through the pictures have brought back fond memories. I do look forward to our next retreat, perhaps 2019.