Shanti School of Taijiquan



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Tai Chi Exercise and Nutrition
Guide to navagating these pages

The table below lists 5 key elements of nutrition and 5 key elements of exercise that complement each other and promote great health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids, detoxifying antioxidants, movement biomechanics, bone strengthening exercises, blood circulation and meditation profoundly impact heart, brain and digestive health as well as balance, bone, joint and muscle strength,  weight loss, stress reduction and chronic pain.


Nutrition Keys

Systems Affected

Benefits or Reduces Symptoms

Omega-3 fatty acids

Heart, brain, digestive system, immune system, blood clotting, brain development

Inflammation, weight  loss, blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, diabetes

Antioxidants-fruits and vegetables

Brain, mitochondria - the cell’s energy powerhouse

Detoxification from environmental toxins, stress reduction, Alzheimer’s

Nutrients that support immune system and reduce inflammation

Immune system, lymphatic system, nervous system, joints

Inflammation, autoimmune diseases, asthma, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, weight loss

Nutrients that support digestion and bowel regularity


Weight loss, colon, diabetes

Minerals and vitamins

Skeletal and muscular system, heart and brain

Body building, athletics, muscle strength, osteoporosis

Download Nutrition and the Brain pdf for more information about these key nutritional components.


Exercise Keys

Systems Affected

Benefits or Reduces Symptoms

Biomechanics for walking, sports, tai chi principles

Skeletal and muscular system, heart and brain

Movement disorders, chronic pain, diabetes, obesity

Balance training

Skeletal and muscular system, brain

Balance, chronic pain, MS, Parkinson’s, foot problems, peripheral neuropathy 

Bone strengthening, power stretching exercises

Skeletal and muscular system

Osteoporosis, balance, strength

Blood and lymph circulation qigong exercises

Immune system, brain, digestive system, hormones

Gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular, migraines, nervous system disorders

Meditation, sleep
relax the mind and body

Brain, heart, all systems

Stress reduction, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, inflammation, digestion, Alzheimer’s

Download pdf of Exercise and nutrition power point lecture.

Spiral Anatomy Module 1 Check out the NEW Spiral Anatomy™ Training Course for great packages including
many of these videos. Modules provide stepwise training on major topics!
Spiral Anatomy™- Movement and Energy Training
for Tai Chi, Sports, Chronic Pain and Rehabilitation

Susan Matthews Shares Internal Secrets for Practicing Qigong

Qigong Practice videoEnergy Gathering and Blood Circulation Qigong with Susan Matthews

This Qigong video is an excellent home practice aid for any age or ability. I consider it essential that my students practice this first level of exercises on a regular basis. Detailed instruction contains essential principles for cultivating qi, for training mind to move qi anywhere in the body for self healing, and for training the internal movement of energy by the mind in Tai Chi and Qigong practice. Several have reported their family members were using the tape successfully so we decided to share it with everyone. QiCircles©, or abdominal rotations, and Mindful Massage© of the Head, Neck, Hands, and Meridians exercises directly stimulate the immune system, internal organs, brain, lymph and blood circulation, skin circulation, and energy flow in the meridians. Great for detoxification of the tissues. Exercises are performed sitting so it makes a great tape to regain strength and energy. Movements also loosen hips and low back. This video is highly recommended for Level I Qigong Class. Front and mirror view. Instructions on Qi (Chi) circles and self massage from Wu Style Grandmaster Wang Hao Da. ©2005 $34.95
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Eight Pieces Brocade Qigong

Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong with Susan Matthews

Eight Pieces of Brocade is one of the oldest known forms of qigong ("CHEE gong") that originated in China some 800 years ago. Qigong means to "cultivate energy" and has been shown to improve overall health and feelings of well-being. It is ideal for beginner tai chi and qigong practitioners. The postures are simple to learn, but doing them correctly for their fullest benefits is key to feeling their profound effects. Practice regularly and mindfully and you will unravel the secret.

The Eight Pieces of Brocade DVD is in two parts. Part I is the entire sequence practiced to calm music. Part II is presented with detailed instructions for transmitting spirals in two ways: the first way is taught describing a type of power-stretching in which one part of the body is set up in opposition to another, creating an isometric stretch around the joints. The second way describes the movements with qi. 27 min. ©2002, 2006 $19.95

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Susan A. Matthews, MS, Neuroscience, is founder of the Shanti School of Taijiquan in Southwestern Colorado and has practiced and taught Tai Chi and Qigong for 35 years. She studies and teaches various internal martial arts styles, including Wu and Chen Style Tai Chi, Xing Yi, and the Lan Shou System, including weapons. She is certified in the MiZong School of Medical Qigong. She integrates Western scholarship and research in neuroscience with Chinese Internal Martial Arts training. She conducts workshops and weekend seminars in various locations in the United States.

Brain Workshop Brain Workshop™ Exercises for a New Brain- Use Mind Power and Movement to Change Your Brain

Brain Workshop™ Mind and Movement Exercises for Brain Health make it really possible to change the structure and function of the brain. By training your mind and movement you can change your brain. Susan A. Matthews, using decades of experience, combines the ancient secrets of Tai Chi with cutting-edge science to produce a powerful system which you can use to tap into the power of the mind and movement to change the way you think and feel, to reverse age-related changes in the brain, to rehabilitate and regain lost function after stroke or brain injury. Integrate these ancient Tai Chi principles to maximize any exercise for improving brain health and brain function and to maximize mind-body connection. Two-volume set ©2008 $34.95

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Volume One: Integrating Neuroscientific Principles is mostly lecture that presents an introduction to how the brain processes information and, using that information, how to use specific patterns of movement to activate and create new neural pathways in the brain. Learn how we use mental practice and visualization to tap into the power of training the mind to affect mental, and physical, well being, and even to repair brain injury.

Volume Two: 12 Key Exercises to Activate the Brain are combined to provide a full one-hour practice session. The constant rhythmic motion is profoundly relaxing. The 4 parts include: 1) Spinal Dynamics, 2) Head and Neck Circulation, 3) Mental Practice, and 4) Left/Right Brain Synchrony.
In each part we focus on both a physical exercise and mental exercise that involves a visualization of energy movement.
The beginning focuses on the dynamics of the spine and the concept of central equilibrium. This is the physical straight spinal column relaxed and balanced in gravity along with fluid energy dynamics created by movement and the mind.
Mental Practice is described for each movement where exercises are designed to train the mind to work within the physical body, generating a visualization of energy flow. The exercises teach you to create a strong root, or sense of balance, how to cultivate a sense of qi, and a method of effortless walking with intent, focus, and energy.
Exercises to balance left and right brain activity have powerful effects both mentally and physically. Here, the mind is trained to move the body, balanced around a singular point of focus.
Head and Neck Exercises provide an abundant blood supply to the brain. Head and neck massage, relaxation and meditation can increase circulation, particularly to areas damaged by stroke or brain injury as well as open doors to higher consciousness.

email Susan for more information:

12 Key Exercises for Brain Health

1) Arm Swings with Mental Intent on Central Equilibrium (Zhong Ding)
2) Gathering Energy using Mental Intent for Up/Down Energy Movement
3) Spiral Up and Stretch
4) Head and Neck Massage
5) Relaxing, Qi Filling Breath Meditation
6) Zhong Ding Rooting and Stretching
7) Left/Right Sinking
8) Qi Walking with Central Equilibrium
9) Sitting Figure-8 Qi Circles
10) Open the Back
11) Backwards Bicycle Punches
12) Arm Swings with Central Equilibrium and Bicycle

These two DVDs contain elements of Brain Workshop training for speeding neural repair and plasticity in patients with movement disability such as those who are recovering from stroke, brain injury, or who have progressive neurological symptoms as seen in Parkinson's Disease.

They also contains tools and specific movement principles for therapists to use to aid in learning and memory acquisition. For example, speech and reading therapists can incorporate rhythmic movement as a right-brain activity to facilitate left-brain re patterning.

Similarly, this mind-body integration training uses movement synchronization and rhythm coupled with mental practice that effects both physical and mental balance.

For mental health, Brain Workshop technique is like EMDR therapy using the whole body.

email Susan for more information:

Breast Massage videoDaily Breast Massage

Holistic Healing and Prevention with Physical Therapy and Qigong

with Susan Matthews, M.S.

Daily Breast Massage™ is a simple technique that can eliminate lumps and cysts within a few short months. This instructional video is an excellent home practice aid for any age or ability. Detailed instruction contains descriptions of breast anatomy, blood circulation, and lymph drainage. Self massage works miracles, even for chronic fibrocystic breast disease. Watch the video clip below to hear testimonials from women who have freed themselves of pain and fear! Video contains essential principles for cultivating healthy qi, for training mind to move qi, blood and lymph. Specific circular hand/finger movements are demonstrated. This loving and nurturing practice has many benefits beyond healthy breasts. Massage is performed lying down. Additional instruction for sitting qigong QiCircles™ is included to round out your practice and benefit whole-body health. For only $19.95 you can't lose. You cannot afford not to do this. Every woman should be using this as a method of prevention of breast disease everyday-- like brushing your teeth!

Daily Breast Massage™ is highly recommended and safe during pregnancy (increase nipple massage). Massage aids in the ability to transition into nursing with less engorgement and dramatically reduces the potential for blocked ducts. (Milk-producing hormones do not kick in until birth.) ©2008 $19.95

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