Shanti School of Taijiquan



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Tai Chi for WomenTai Chi for Women--
Health and Empowerment

© 2002-2024 Susan A. Matthews, MS, ND  

How do you want to enter the next phase of your life? 

Practicing Tai Chi and Qigong is great for women of all ages because the exercise addresses the most pressing women’s health issues with specific techniques that resolve, or even prevent, diseases, make women stronger, promote mental health and spiritual well-being.

When you practice Tai Chi, you can increase the expression of your empowered spirit in yourself and in the world. Tai chi and Qigong helps you to learn to gather, release, expand, connect to energies in yourself, in nature and in relationships, to strengthen the physical, emotional, and spiritual body.

Besides all the regular benefits of tai chi and qigong, the health and spiritual benefits for women can be profound. This page lists several key topics that women can think about when choosing what and how to practice. We offer many videos that address these topics whether or not you find coverage in your classes.

Therapeutic Daily Breast Massage Maintains Healthy Breasts

Breast Massage Video Daily Breast Massage™ presents a simple therapeutic breast massage 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. Learn more breast health and natural remedies here. Watch the video clip 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. 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 (add even more 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.)

Three very important natural remedies for maintaining healthy breasts are Breast Massage, Qigong Exercise and Mindfulness Meditation. We are excited to present a great collection of these practices in the Spiral Anatomy™ Training Program detailed below. Daily Breast Massage video and Qigong Exercise video and Guided Visualizations are found in Spiral Anatomy™ Module 1.

Spiral Anatomy Module 1Module 1 - Building an Energy Body Collection: Best videos in one package, $100 value. Order/Download only $39.95

Increase Bone Density and Reverse Osteoporosis with Power Stretching and Silk Reeling

Proper practice of Tai Chi increases bone density. It is said about Tai Chi that "the bones become like steel wrapped in cotton." This is to say that Tai Chi emphasizes bone strength and bone-generated force over muscle-generated force. Greater fluidity, flexibility, force and strength are produced by understanding the spiraling properties of bones, a biomechanical principle unique to Chinese internal martial arts training. Tai Chi Silk Reeling or spiral training, is a foundational exercise in which you can develop great muscle toning from feet to hands and a powerful coiling force. Videos are available from Master George Xu that provide theory and exercises for this important component of practice.

You can also increase bone strength by learning how to correct your posture—to become straight in gravity or have a straight zhong ding, so that the bones bear the weight. Bones in their natural, plumb position become stronger and joints become more fluid. If the skeleton is out of position, much energy is wasted in work done by muscles that are in tension and in opposition to each other. The person’s balance suffers and chronic pain sets in. Wear and tear on joints increases. As the skeleton ages, the result of inappropriate articulation and weight-bearing is osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. The Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong is an ancient qigong exercise set that improves zhong ding, spine, bone strength and joint health. Eight Pieces video instruction, along with balance training and zhong ding are presented in Spiral Anatomy™ Module 2.

Another practice is power stretching which focuses on bone, tendon, ligament conditioning and training. Power stretching is taught by many Masters of the Lan Shou Style. Spiral Anatomy™ Module 3 is a great place to start to understand the theory of power stretching and gives you a sample from these Lan Shou Masters.

Please follow the links provided for more information on each of these topics.

Relieve Chronic Pain, Swelling, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, and Autoimmune Diseases by Increasing Blood Circulation

Constant tissue stress and tension related to both stress and inappropriate articulation can have devastating effects on blood circulation. It is the inability of tissues to cleanse themselves of metabolic wastes that is a key culprit in autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, arthritis. Wu Style Tai Chi combines postural correction with special qigong movements, abdominal rotations called Qi Circles, and self massage exercises to directly enhance blood and lymph circulation in the vital organs, muscles, brain and bones. This improves digestion, balances immune system function, and detoxifies systems helping them to function better. 

These physical exercises, found on the Qigong Practice video, now contained in Spiral Anatomy™ Module 1 (see full contents below), are part of the holistic approach incorporated in my teaching that emphasizes blood and lymph circulation. improving blood and lymph circulation is key to the success experienced by women in my classses that reduced symptoms of chronic pain and autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. It is a primary function of all Qigong exercise to increase blood circulation, lymphatic circulation and, of course, qi circulation.

Strengthen and Increase Energy in the Reproductive System and Pelvic Organs

Meditation, massage, and direct movement is part of bringing health to the reproductive system and pelvis. We add head and neck massage and other qigong to increase circulation to the brain to balance the endocrine and immune systems and to increase communication and feedback in the neuroendocrine system. QiCircles, are extremely effective mind-energy movements that increase circulation to the reproductive organs and bladder. Qi Circles also strengthen the pelvic floor and are key to getting rid of incontinence, reducing unrinary tract infections, and improving sexual function. PMS and menopausal symptoms are reduced, migraines stopped. Almost all practitioners of these techniques report greatly improved sexual function (found in the Qigong Practice video section of Spiral Anatomy™ Module 1). Do Tai Chi.

Focus on Brain Health

It is important to include exercises which focus on brain health as we age. We want to combat or slow the possibility of developing memory disorders like alzheimers and dementia. Many of the practices already mentioned will help protect the brain. Spiral Anatomy™ Module 2 contains the Brain Workshop™ videos many have used to improve brain function, balance and memory, even for disorders as serious as Parkinson's Disease and for recovery from stroke.

Relax the Body and Soul. Practicing Mindfulness - Meditation in Motion with Tai Chi and Qigong for Stress and Mental Health

Tai Chi, Qigong, meditation or mind-energy training can amplify the individual’s power to reduce both physical and mental stress as well as enhance strength way beyond normal. Practitioners learn how to use Tai Chi & Qigong for chronic stress, anxiety, PTSD, depression, and sleep disorders. Women can use this powerful mind-energy training to foster a peaceful heart and quiet mind. Beyond that, many are discovering new levels of intuitive sensitivity and even healing abilities. This is called training the subtle energy body.

Dear Susan,
I want to thank you for the extra time you took with me recently. Tai Chi has been an incredible addition to my life. Your knowledge, expertise & shining spirit is a true gift and guiding light.
Thank you again and be well,
Sharona 1/2003

Tai Chi and Qigong employ meditation techniques such as brain and marrow breathing, and grounding the forces and energy of the earth, sky, and Spirit, into the body. Centering is practiced by focusing one’s thoughts and movements on a central point in the core. In fact, the mind can be trained to direct energy to any place in the body to heal tissues and improve circulation. A strong intent to heal is created with these detailed visualization techniques.

Dear Susan Matthews,
During your presentation I really liked your openness to heal. You allowed me to visualize the tightness in my chest. The cobwebs of my heart were healed with the healing golden light. I felt a sense of purpose and and opening up to change.
-Womenfest 2002

One of the strongest healing visualizations is the intent of love. When a woman uses multiple ways to infuse herself with self love, then transformation begins to occur on physical, mental and spiritual levels.

***Read this article on:

Using Tai Chi & Qigong for Chronic Stress, Anxiety, PTSD, Depression, Sleep Disorders

Whole-body relaxation through qigong, and actually getting a massage is a critical component for improving vitality. Consider trying a variety of practitioners, bodywork styles and techniques to find the one that works for you. We can all use a little help sometimes.

Spiral Anatomy Module 1MODULE 1 Spiral Anatomy™ Training Course:
Cultivating an Energy Body

Module 1 contains an extremely robust visualization, meditation and self massage program that can bring a high level of awareness of the energy in your body. The goal is to experience yourself as an energy being. The materials presented explain the physiology of practicing qigong. In practice, this program can relieve stress, anxiety and chronic pain by promoting relaxation, sleep and healing blood circulation to the brain and internal organs. The visualizations and simple exercises, performed both sitting and standing, are used to refine mind intention and build qi. Self massage and meridian massage enhances qi flow, blood circulation, lymphatic circulation, and immune system function.

Module 1 - Building an Energy Body Collection: Best videos in one package, $100 value. Order/Download only $39.95

Module 1 Contents:

1. Introduction to Spiral Anatomy™ Visualizations for Energy and Blood Circulation (7:40) (preview page)
2. Energy-Filling Stress-Reduction Meditation and Brain Circulation Visualization (19:14)
3. Brain and Eye Visualization Aids PDF
4. Introduction to Qigong with Susan Matthews (3:47)
5. Qigong Practice 1 Gathering Energy (1:46)
6. Qigong Practice 2 Qi Circles (15:05)
7. Qigong Practice 3 Head Neck Meridian Self Massage (19:15)
8. Qigong Practice 4 Hand Massage (4:01)
9. Abdominal Breathing Demonstration (2:01)
10. Daily Breast Massage (34:09)
11. Bamen Wu Bu Lecture WANG ZHI XIANG (46.35)
12. WANG HAO DA Neijing Training (1:15:19)

Spiral Anatomy Module 2MODULE 2 Spiral Anatomy™ Training Course:
Balance plus Brain Workshop™

Module 2 contains videos and supplemental materials to help you understand the physical and energetic principles of central equilibrium, one of the most important fundamental principles in tai chi. Central equilibrium training is essential for understanding how to create balance, strength and flexibility in the movements of daily life. With practice you can repair posture to alleviate chronic health issues including chronic pain, and to activate neurorehabilitation and repair. Brain Workshop™ specifically addresses additional movement principles for brain health, especially important for persons with stress, brain injury, Parkinson's, stroke.

Module 2 - Balance plus Brain Workshop™ Collection: Best videos in one package. Order/Download only $39.95

Module 2 Contents:

1. Zhong Ding Energy and Balance Introduction (2:47)
2. Zhong Ding Lecture (6:05)
3. Skeletal Alignment Anterior.jpg
4. Skeletal Alignment Posterior.jpg
5. Skeletal Alignment Lateral.jpg
6. Sacrum and Center of Gravity.jpg
7. Get Balance™ Training and Exercises (37:37)
8. Zhong Ding Central Equlibrium Line Article (PDF)
9. Walking Visualization and Training (23:08)
10. Review of Visualizations (3:42)
11. Brain Workshop I: Integrating Neuroscientific Principles in Movement (46:41) (preview page)
12. Brain Workshop II: Twelve Exercises to Activate the Brain (1:05:50)
13. Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong (27:31)

Spiral Anatomy Module 3MODULE 3 Spiral Anatomy™ Training Course:
Connect the Body Physically as One Unit with Power Stretching

Module 3 contains videos to help you understand the physical and energetic principles of power stretching. Power stretching is essential for whole-body or one-unit, connected, loose, relaxed, spiraling power in all styles of martial arts. Power stretching is the next step essential for understanding how to repair posture to alleviate chronic health issues including chronic musculoskeletal pain, and to activate neurorehabilitation and repair.

Module 3 - Power Stretching Collection: Best videos in one package. Order/Download only $39.95

Module 3 Contents:

1. Susan Matthews Lan Shou Power Stretching Introduction to Module 3 (PDF) (preview page)
2. Master YE XIAO LONG Power Stretch 1 (3:37)
3. Master WU JI Power Stretching First Section (3:10)
4. Susan Matthews Opening the Low Back (4:50)
5. 'Dont Let Me Lift Your Arm' Test (0:56)
6. Susan Matthews Power Stretch Exercise(8:13)
7. Master YE XIAO LONG Power Stretch 2 (10.53)
8. Master GEORGE XU Spiraling Power Stretching (21:22)
9. Master WU JI Lan Shou Muscle-Tendon Stretching Exercises (35:27)
10. Double Dragon VOL 3 Master SHOU GUAN SHUN Jin Shin Ba Gu (1:16:30)
11. Master WANG MING BO Jin Shin Ba Gu (1:12:47)

Tai Chi Philosophy and  Women’s Empowerment

What can you achieve by practicing Tai Chi?
Tai Chi fosters creativity, intuition and self actualization. It increases sensitivity and awareness that can broaden your horizons. Women can use the principles of Tai Chi to empower themselves in ways that can benefit the whole world. Our feminine strength, Yin Power—the hidden force—so available through the practice of Tai Chi, forms a natural counterbalance to the masculine yang force in our world that breeds competition, war, domination, and control—leaving much of the world needy and suffering.
Women already have the power. We only need to learn how to direct it to rebalance the world. We are healers, cooperators, idea makers, artists. We can generate creative solutions to problems and trigger a global shift towards balancing yin and yang forces. All of this is possible when each woman feels herself to be empowered as an individual.

Dear Susan
Thank you so much for the beautiful workshop on Saturday. Your expertise and power were the perfect introduction for me into the world of Tai Chi. Your vitality was an inspiration. And thank you for the insight about bringing my mercurial travels into my belly—that was so helpful. I hope to learn from you again in the near future.
All my best, B.W., October, 2007

Tai Chi practice specifically addresses the most pressing women’s health issues. You can become physically stronger, with healthier tissues and more vitality. You can avoid being subjected to the medical system’s inherent neglect of women’s needs. Taking charge of your own health care means taking charge of your own life! You can even save money on health care. Aging, breast cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s can be addressed in curative, holistic, preventive ways through the practice of Tai Chi and tapping into your Yin Power. Understanding Yin Power includes searching for your inner self and allowing it to express itself. Spirituality, creativity, intuition, and inner wisdom give you the power to step out confidently. You can find strength in relationship with yourself, with others, with nature.

Success in my workshops and classes stems from combining western science with eastern energetics and movement. This very unique and effective approach is a mind-body-spirit training system made up of techniques that train individual parts of your body as well as their relationship to each other. In and out of class, women practitioners consistently experience profound benefits by employing the principles of Tai Chi in daily life. My students and I are all getting younger in body and wiser in mind and spirit.

Here’s How We Do It!
Tai Chi, as well as the closely related practice of Qigong, can be described in terms of physical biomechanical movement, visualization of movement of internal energy, and mental, or spiritual, intent. Practitioners integrate all of these to create effective whole-body movement, full of power and spiritual development—with a very real potential to heal.

1. Get More Energy
As described above, the first goal is bring health and energy to physical tissues, which eventually leads to a healthier, more energetic psyche and spirit. This requires a daily practice of self care and prevention, and learning about your anatomy and biological systems. Increased energy enables you to "see" the world in new ways. We use the following two techniques, among others, to gather energy.

susan matthews qigongBlood Circulation and Energy Gathering Qigong—In class, we learn simple, yet powerful, exercises that increase relaxation, health and longevity. Massage and movement are employed to improve the functioning of major physiological systems. Better blood and lymph circulation, and internal organ health, including the breasts, results. The nervous system is activated to work more efficiently. Blood pressure and heart rate are controlled, stress is reduced, and digestion improves. The endocrine and immune systems become balanced. Your joints become less painful and more flexible. You achieve peace of mind. The drain on your energy is reduced.

Grounding—Increase energy, consciousness, sensitivity and mind in the body by energetically grounding, filling, and connecting the three dantiens (head, heart, womb), and the zhong ding (central equilibrium) with the energy outside the body and moving with it, healing with it. Energy in the body, and blood and energy circulation to the brain sharpen awareness. We wake up in the moment in a state of peace.

2. Get Physical Power, Strength
The superior strength that can be generated using Tai Chi techniques is particularly suited to women’s bodies, because it teaches yin, or feminine, force rather than hard muscular force. A Tai Chi practitioner gets more strength out of being relaxed, loose, soft, yet extremely connected so that one learns how to use the body’s entire structure, especially bones, for strength. As a woman develops internal "core" strength she gains emotional strength and spiritual wealth. Core strength is important for a woman to heal, especially from old abuse. Even the women living with a "core" of fear can experience peace.

Biomechanics of Rooting—Obtain a strong "root" by understanding postural alignment in gravity, the mechanics of transferring weightedness to the feet, and lowering the center of balance.

Full body integration and connectivity—Chan SSu Chin practice, or the Biomechanics of Spiraling Bones, strengthens and connects joints and tendons into a continuous "snake." Physical strength is greatly increased through the use of integrated "bone" power rather than relying on muscular strength. Healthier bones and more flexible joints result.

3. Yin-Yang Theory Applied to Daily Life
Create balance, physical stability, and relaxation by learning how to first gather energy inward in order to project yourself outward. Take conscious control of minute aspects of your body and every aspect of the self by practicing exercises of looking inward and grounding to the earth both physically and energetically.

4. Understanding and Using Yin Force
Various Tai Chi exercises strengthen the mind’s connection to Yin Power, or the gathering and storing of energy. Yin is the flow of creativity—the manifestation of ideas, art, and intention. Yin is the current behind the outward flow of Yang, which is the expression of creativity and the qualities of higher self. Yin force uses power generated in the lower abdomen, the dantien, and is easier to cultivate in women, because they have a womb.

Dantien Energy Power—Dantien rotation exercises develop fluid movements which begin deep inside and move the extremities. Transmit energy from heaven and earth through the heart to the hands, as an individual, beautiful, wise and full of love.

Zhong Ding training cultivates awareness and energy in the spine, fostering a connection to intuition, higher consciousness and higher energy centers. Cultivating jin suspends the spine between Heaven and Earth.

5. Harmony and Nature
We all want to live on the planet in healthy ways. In the Taoist tradition, maintaining a balance of yin and yang manifests harmony with na
ture and with natural cycles. Tai Chi cultivates an inner harmony of movement and mental focus that expands outward into the world. Nature becomes self. Harmony with others becomes self.

Two-person exercises—Experience the power, joy and creativity released as we allow ourselves to experience a synergy of mind and heart with other individuals.

Broadsword training—Learn how to manifest expression of energy of the greater self through use of the sword.

About Susan A. Matthews, MS, ND
Susan Matthews has practiced Tai Chi and Qigong for 35 years and has experienced the wisdom and benefits of integrated health care. Employing a method of assimilating human anatomy and neurophysiology with ancient Chinese understanding of the internal workings of the human spirit, she has effectively taught students and patients in personal consultation. There are no real secrets in the remarkable stories of healing that many of her students and patients tell, and Sifu Matthews takes little credit for their achievements. But there is a trick. It is simply a trick of knowing human energetic anatomy through her own experience as a long-time practitioner of Tai Chi and Qigong—this combined with her ability to quickly and accurately assess the patient’s physical condition and understanding it as a symptom or a manifestation of their emotional, mental, and spiritual state. She then shows them how to fix the problem themselves. If you stay with her long enough and develop a home practice, you continue to learn and discover techniques for building a stronger, more relaxed whole being.

Sifu Matthews has been involved in the psychology of personal growth for 35 years. She received a Master’s degrees from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and the Univ. of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Graduate School in Anatomy and Neuroscience. Her research was in the dopamine, Parkinson's, stroke, spinal cord development and neuroendocrinology of the pineal gland. She also holds a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.S. in Molecular Biology.


Taijiquan and qigong strengthen and tune the body so that it becomes like a violin string.
When plucked by the mind, it is able to transmit energy with vigor:
for health, for healing, for spiritual wisdom.

© March, 2002-2022 Susan A. Matthews