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Beachside Qigong & Tai Chi

Tai Chi and Qigong Practitioner Recommended Reading

When I notice I haven’t been reading, I reprimanded myself with the shocking wisdom of Mark Twain when he said,

“ Those who don’t read are no better off than those who can’t read.”

Personally, I love reading. It provides a way to delve deeper into a subject AND engage my mind while learning instead of the one-way delivery system of video. The number of excellent books on tai chi, chi kung, Taoism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine is far beyond what I am capable of reading in my lifetime. But I’ve read enough good ones and bad ones that I can compile a respectable list of what’s helped me along the way. I have left out even some famous books (like The Web That Has No Weaver) simply because I did not find them personally useful or inspiring for whatever reason. In the case mentioned, I simply couldn’t wrap my little brain around it, even though it’s written for westerners.

Below are the Top 10 books I’ve (currently) read and would recommend on these subjects in order of (current) personal preference.

Tao Te Ching Ursula K Le Guin

1. Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way by Ursula K. Le Guin. This translation recently rose to my #1 spot for the Tao Te Ching, superseding my previous favorite, which is now #2. There is no argument that anyone studying tai chi and/or qigong would benefit from also reading Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. There are hundreds of translations of Lao Tzu‘s famous work available. This particular translation carries the many varried nuances of the original Chinese text while also providing updated language and a feminine scholarly translation. After years of reading a male interpretation (#2 below) the gender difference was notable when I first read Ursula K. Le Guin’s work.

Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching Gia Fu Feng Jane English

2. Lao Tsu Tao Te Ching A New Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English. This first translation I ever read of the Tao Te Ching remained my favorite until recenetly. I memorized many passages from this translation because they influenced my life and practice so much. I’ve read other translations now and find that all others except noted above, were lacking in maintaining nuanced meanings. This particular translantion first came out in the 1970s and caused quite a stir. Never in the 2,500 year history of the Tao Te Ching’s existence had anyone put pictures with the text. Because this book did, it re-kindeled interest in this ancient text. This book of verses is one of the foundation stones of Taoist thought and considered one of the most influential books in all of human history. Get yourself a copy today!

The Way of Qigong Kenneth Cohen

3. The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing by Kenneth Cohen. There are now numerous editions of this book, any one of which will serve as a valuable lifelong reference for qigong terms and practices. I had read many recommended texts on qigong that were very esoteric in nature and didn’t usually make sense to my Western, science-oriented mind. The Way of Qigong is easy to understand for anyone of any background and provides what could be considered advanced practices within its pages as well as practical advice and techniques. This book is considered a modern classic written by a living master.

Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi

4. Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart & Sharp Mind by Peter M. Wayne, PhD. This well-received Western book on tai chi came out in 2012 and initiated many Western doctors in the medical evidence supporting tai chi practice for numerous conditions. Not only does this Harvard backed book tout some science supporting tai chi, it also gives an easy to understand account of tai chi history, terminology, practices and insights into community aspects of healing in tai chi groups. Humbly, this book admits that science has yet to figure out exactly how tai chi works in many regards-the mystique continues. A fabulous read for anyone wanting more intellectual understanding of tai chi on various levels. Reading this book will help you explain what tai chi is to your friends.


5. Breathe The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. I loved this book so much, I went to the author’s retreat in Costa Rica and wrote an entire blog about it! In short summary, simple solutions are often the most reliable, cost-effective and sustainable. And so it is when we learn about breathing. As “QiGong” literally means “breath work,” knowing about breathing is key to qigong and, as it turns out, key to physical and mental health and longevity. The simple solution of breathing more efficiently. This fun book is an adventurous human romp around the world in search of breathing easier. Be ready to be astounded by the simple but complexly profound act of breathing. A must read for anyone who breaths and wants to breathe easy.

A Thousand Names for Joy Byron Katie

6. A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are by Byron Katie If you’re sick and tired of being fed up. . . . When you’re ready to dive in and do the work, the real work to break past all barriers of belief, this is the book you’ve been looking for. In fact, any of Byron Katie’s books will do but this one incorporates teachings from the Tao Te Ching. Byron Katie is considered a living Western Master. Her method called The Work, is a succinct and effective guide to managing our internal belief systems using 4 simple questions of Taoist inquiry into the reality of our current moment. There is no belief or philosophy or trust required in her work. One must simply do The Work and outdated, inhibiting beliefs fall away simply by seeing things as they truly are. Profound work but not easy. Full blog on this book here.

Conquering Any Disease

7. Conquering Any Disease: The Ultimate High-Phytochemical Food-Healing System by Jeff Primack get the most recent edition you can find. This author continually researches the latest in food healing from around the world and updates this book every 2 years. I HIGHLY recommend you spend a little more and get the most up to date edition you can afford from his website here. I include this book in the list of recommended reading for tai chi and qigong practitioners because food healing has been part of qigong systems for hundreds if not thousands of years. This has been the easiest book of food healing systems I’ve ever found. Simple, easy and actually works. I’ve met numerous people who’ve cured a varied of diseases using the protocols in this book. Food has been used to heal the mindbody for centuries. Raise vibrational energy and physical/mental health the highest by attuning diet to high vibrational foods.

Internal Practices Sun Lu Tang

8. The Internal Practices of Sun Lu-T’ang Complied and Translated by Bradford Tyrey In reading and re-reading this beautiful text, I understand Sun style tai chi better and better and I also understand the depth of alchemy involved in true qi cultivation. If you practice Tai Chi 1 & 2 or Sun 73 Tai Chi or are interested in traditional thoughts on how standing meditative practices heal and align us to the cosmos, this is a great book for you. It combines both practical physical instruction in stances as well as esoteric meanings and benefits. I didn’t realize until I read this book that many of the stepping patterns in Sun Style tai chi follow the pattern of The Big Dipper. ”As above, so below.” More on Sun Style here.

I ching

9. I Ching so many translations of this age-old book that I will not recommend any. The translation in the photo is currently the most popular Western interpretation. I had difficulty understanding it. I will recommend that if you have a penchant for the mystical, the cosmic and the esoteric side of the ethereal chi arts, this book is calling your name. No one knows how old it is or from where it comes. The I Ching or Book of Changes is a system of divination and living and healing that has proven accurate and profound for centuries. Most recently the 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching have been found to correspond exactly with the 64 codons or combinations of amino acids (think RNA) in the human genome. Wow! Now a days we have not only the book of 64 Hexagrams and their various combinations that is known as the I Ching, we can use coins to throw and read from the I Ching, use I Ching cards similar to Tarot, and now I Ching apps which I find to be spookily accurate as well. I can barely comprehend the depth of this profound system but I know that it speaks through our DNA to many, perhaps even you!

Surfing the Sea of Chi book

10. Surfing the Sea of Chi by Lea Williamson. Most of the time, especially in the beginning of learning about chi arts, tai chi and qigong seem very remote from day to day life and the goals we wish to accomplish in our lives. This book is my personal story of how learning qigong breathing allowed me to overcome my lifelong fear of water and learn to surf at age 40. While it’s probably not worthy of Top 10 of all Time books on chi arts, many people have told me it impacted their lives. I’d love to sign and ship and copy for you! Pay ME not Amazon by clicking HERE! hahaha! You can read more about the book in another blog post here.

Mastering 5 Element

BONUS: Mastering 5 Elements: Create better relationships in love, family, business and discover WHY people act the way they do by Professor Tanya Storch. There are so many great books on chi arts, I had to throw just one more in about the 5 Element System. I had the privledge of taking a few workshops with Professor Storch. This larger than life 6’3” Russian Siberian Taoist Shaman has written a masterful book on how to have better relationships by understanding 5 Elements from Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s super fun and easy to read and you’ll be surprised how accurately she describes many people you know based on 5 element archetypes. You might finally understand why your friend is ALWAYS 15 minutes late or early or why your mom always orders the same meal at every restaurant or why your teenager will only wear black!

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