My grandchildren call me Ninja Granny. It brings a smile to my face every time I think of it. How did I acquire this name?
It all started with lockdown, following the first Covid outbreak which kept us all indoors. There was a TV advertisement at the same time. It showed a trio of pandas performing Constant Bear. I was captivated by the pandas’ graceful, flowing movements. A great calmness came over me from just watching it. I decided then and there that I’d learn tai chi and at least get something positive out of being confined to my home.
As with many things these days it was Google to the rescue, and from various searches I found the Tai Chi Foundation and its online zoom sessions. I’ve neither regretted nor looked back since. Tai chi and qigong classes have proved to be a wonderful experience, one that brings an awareness to my inner self from both understanding the movements and the art.
My first online qigong lesson on zoom was from Los Angeles, where I met a group of online students all talking about global weather--always a good icebreaker for any group session. We settled into a deep relaxation of the body for several minutes before moving onto more intricate movements and stances associated with the five seasons.
After two years of attending the Tai Chi Foundation and other schools, and with regular practice at home, I’ve become more supple in my limbs, more relaxed in my mind and I have a wider open outlook on life in general. My body feels energized, lighter, satisfied, and contented. I feel like I am “swimming in air,” to quote Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing.
The Tai Chi Foundation’s Time in the Art classes have given me additional knowledge regarding appreciation of and feeling at one with nature. I’ve learned how tai chi benefits the physiology of the body via the meridians, and how with special massages, the body can self-heal.
I am still taking weekly classes with the Tai Chi Foundation and still practicing Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing’s Constant Bear 100 times daily. I have also learned and practiced the 24 Yang Style Form and various Animal Forms.
As a bonus, learning tai chi with the Tai Chi Foundation has enabled me to make new friends in the United States. Clearly, I am thoroughly enjoying this wonderful experience.
Now I have started researching the roots of qigong and tai chi which I have discovered is thousands of years old, formulated by Chinese monks from the study of nature.
I am still learning.
Annita Riddle is a retired geologist and retailer. For many years she has lived in a Cornish fishing village and now resides with her husband in rural Devon in Southwest UK. Her children and grandchildren live in London and Sydney. Currently she has returned to her academic studies online which includes tai chi and qigong.