Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.

 

Correct Alignment in the Sitting Posture

Welcome back mind-body students!

This week, I want to share a video with you about correct alignment. Correct alignment is so important to a successful mind-body practice. In a similar way to how isolating the joints allows you to achieve better health outcomes during your tai chi and exercise, correct alignment allows you to achieve better health outcomes both during your mind-body practice, and when you are sitting at your desk, driving your car, walking, or doing anything really!

The first thing you need to study is this: there is a difference between what your body is designed to do, and what it probably tends to do. Things like your head craning forward, your shoulders staying shrugged, your chest and back slumping down and so on are all examples of bad tendencies our body has.

Once you learn to recognize when your body is doing those bad tendencies, you can practice correcting them. A great way to practice that is by focusing on what I call the "Major Up and Down Forces".

The three "Up" forces, which are areas of your body that should feel like they are lifting up when you are in correct alignment, are the lumbar spine (lower back), thoracic spine (middle/upper back), and the top of your head.

The three "Down" forces, which are areas of your body that should feel as relaxed as possible (without drooping!) when you are in correct alignment. They are the abdominal muscles, the shoulders, and the face.

Ideally, through practice with this video and my face meditation video, you get to the point where you can experience all six major forces at the same time and achieve correct alignment.

I have even more advice in the video, so don't miss it!

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Isolating the Joints: During Your Tai Chi and Qi Gong Movements

Hello mind-body students!

If you haven't read last week's blog about isolating the joints, you can read that here.

We are back to isolating the joints this week, with another short video. In this one, I show you how to think about isolating the joints while you are doing the techniques of your Tai Chi and Qi Gong practice.

Specifically, I explain how to think about joint isolation: alternating between expansion, or gentle pulsing or pumping, to contraction, or relaxation.

I even explain how this can be used to practice your rooting! But you will have to watch the video to hear that part :)

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Isolating the Joints with Flexibility and Strength Essential for Health, Martial Arts, and Various Sports

Isolating the joints is a great eastern way to warm up, starting from the energetic system!

(Speaking of sports and warming up: checkout the links in this blog to my martial arts tips for sport on YouTube!)

In my class at Dana Farber and in my research class at Tufts Medical Center, I use isolating the joints as the first warm up to ignite and start-up the energetic system. Then, I continue with a three to five minute walk to also gain the benefits of the typical “western” style exercise warm up. This walk gets the heart pumping faster which then increases blood flow to the muscles and the rest of the body. I find that doing the best of both worlds for a warm up before any physical activity is the best.

Since warming up before any physical activity is a must, make sure that when you are about to take a walk, ride a bike, hike, swim, run, or do any kind of physical activity, spend three to five minutes isolating the joint first. Spend about ten seconds on each one. Then run in place or walk for three to five minutes and that should be a great warm-up for whatever activity you are about to do.

Of course, then spending five to ten minutes for some stretches, before and after, is very important as well. Once you have done that, then you are really ready!

Isolating the joints has two outcomes that you can focus on: one is better health, while the other is better martial arts.

For health, isolating the joints leads to better flow. It is like a gentle massage to both the joints and to the soft tissues around the joints. You can think of the gentle movements of the joints like “oiling the joints,” and at the same time reigniting and charging the energetic system. The gentle movements of the ligaments stimulate the energetic system.

Remember, when it comes to health purposes, move the joints with 40% to 60% effort. Move gently, like your hands are in warm water. You will get better, with time and practice, on both isolation of the joints as well as with the movement. Practice makes perfect!

You will also find that moving the joints gently helps tremendously with Arthritis and other chronic pains around the joint areas, and elsewhere. Many of my students were able to reduce inflammation in the joint or in the tendons around the joints with the gentle joint movements.

Also, over time, breathing deep and emptying the mind while practicing the joint will allow you to experience a nice form of moving meditation.

Many times, when doing the movements correctly, I experience a nice warm feeling in the joint area which then spreads into the rest of the body.

For martial arts, and for various sports, moving the joints is done slowly at first, for correct isolation. Over time, the speed increases to improve performance.

The hands joints are important for both individuals that are interested in martial arts, and for those interested in improving their performance in sports activities. In martial arts, the hands are used for blocking, grabbing, and striking.

While the lower body joints are essential for both martial arts and sport activities, in martial arts, the legs are used for kicking and taking down your opponent.

Over time, you will develop both strength and speed in the joints, which will upgrade both your martial arts and sports abilities.

If flexibility is important, both leg and upper body strength are essential.

Use this exercise to improve both leg strength and speed.

Remember the art of 40%, 60%, and 80% movements too! Each one has different purposes and goals.

That’s all for this week! Come back next week for another video about isolating the joints while doing Tai Chi and Qi Gong!

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

WCVB-5 (ABC) Boston Covering Ramel Rones at Tufts!

“Chronic pain may be easier to manage with tai chi than aerobic exercise, study says”

“Tufts Medical Center research shows patients find relief with low-impact workout, meditation”

Welcome back mind-body students!

After 10 years of research at Tufts Medical Center on Fibromyalgia, using a Tai Chi intervention which I designed, and after our study was published in one of the top and most prestigious medical journals, the BMJ, our results are really beginning to attract media attention!

Not only was our research covered by Time magazine, but Tufts Medical Center also created a short video about the research. And finally, Channel 5 (WCVB-5, ABC Boston) and anchor Emily Riemer did a short report about our research in the medical section of the news!

It is nice to have some fame (even if it is only a few seconds) after so many years of hard work!

You can also read about the journey up to the publication, as well find other research links, videos, and testimonials in more depth in the blog I did two weeks ago.

And as always, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Isolating the Joints: Beginning with the Upper Body

Hello mind-body students!

We have had a few months now of blogs that were full of science, studies, and lectures. This is all good stuff! But I know that many of you blog-readers are most interested in the simple, 5-minute videos I do that show you a mind-body technique that you can start practicing that week.

It's been a while since we've had one of those, so this week, we are going to have one!

This will be the first video in a series of videos about isolating the joints. Isolating the joints is a key part of any mind-body practice. If you cannot isolate the joints you should move in each exercise you do, you will unconsciously move in other areas of your body. Doing that will prevent you from achieving the full benefit of the exercises you do.

Isolating the joints is also an excellent way to practice both the body and mind blocks of our five building blocks of being (the other three are breath, energy, and spirit). By focusing on a particular joint (or group of joints) in the body as you gently move or stretch, you are practicing both a body technique and a kind of meditative mind technique.

As I mention in the video, the more building blocks you can add to each exercise and technique you practice, the better!

As always: happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

BMJ: Britain Medical Journal Publication & Time Article Featuring Ramel Rones!

Welcome back mind-body students!

I am proud and humbled to share with you another publication of my research & collaboration with Tufts Medical Center in the world-renowned BMJ: British Medical Journal! The study/research, published just a couple weeks ago, March 21 - 2018, is called "Effect of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial."

Thank you to Dr. Chenchen Wang and the entire research team at Tufts Medical Center!

You can read up on the BMJ study at the link above, or check out the following articles and videos as well:

As some of you may know, I have been involved in research over the last 15 years with Tufts Medical Center. We studied/researched autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee, and fibromyalgia/chronic pain.

If you want to learn more about those conditions and the work me and my team did (as well as watch the video Tufts communication did), check out my last blog, or read up at the links below:

As I mentioned in my last blog, 15 years ago when I first met with my PI (principle investigator) Dr. Chenchen Wang at Tufts medical center, I was challenged with designing a mind-body Tai Chi intervention for all three of the conditions above. Not all at once, of course! But over those years I would develop an intervention for each one separately.

I was also given the task, in the first six years, for the R21grant, to teach and implement the Tai Chi or mind-body intervention that I designed for each one of the three conditions.

Using my knowledge and understanding of Tai Chi, Chi Kung, and Yoga (and what I have learned from years of experience working with individuals with the three conditions) I created a simple mind-body/Tai Chi intervention. It included gentle modified stretching, modified strengthening exercises, a strong emphasis on deep breathing in different postures, and a focus on engaging in different forms of meditation and visualizations with some Tai Chi movements from the Yang style Tai Chi.

You can see all of these components in my books and DVDS, such as Sunrise Tai Chi, Sunset Tai Chi, and Tai Chi Energy Patterns. 

For the rheumatoid arthritis, the mind-body intervention was 70% deep breathing and meditation, and 30% stretching and some strengthening elements. You can read the article/publication about the rheumatoid arthritis study/research in the Oxford Academic Rheumatology 5 -2005; with the title: “Effect of Tai Chi in adults with rheumatoid arthritis.

For our study of osteoarthritis of the knee, the Tai Chi intervention was 70% physical: lots of flexibility and strengthening exercise. The other 30% was mental: deep breathing, meditation, visualizations, and evoking the spirit. You can read the osteoarthritis study/research publication in the NCBI November - 2009 with the title: “Tai Chi is Effective in Treating Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

The Fibromyalgia study, like the one for rheumatoid arthritis, used a Tai Chi intervention that was more mental (~60%) such as deep breathing, visualizations, and evoking the spirit. The physical elements made up about 40% of the intervention. Read the fibromyalgia study in the New England Journal of Medicine, August 19 – 2010 with the title: “A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia.

Of course, as all the groups advanced, across all the conditions being studied, even the physical exercises became more and more internal -- integrating the physical movements and exercises with deep breathing, engaging in meditation and Tai Chi typical visualizations, and eventually evoking the spirit.

Many times I would start the students on a chair for certain exercises, and over time and practice most students were able to move out of the chair into standing positions.

In both the osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia studies, I witnessed tremendous positive changes on both the physical and mental levels. In the study on rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease and therefore a much harder challenge, the differences, from before and after, were not as notable. It is also possible that pursuing notable changes for only the time allotted to us by one R21 grant was not enough; maybe more time and a longer period of research are needed to show differences from before and after, especially with the side effects and symptoms of this difficult condition.

After doing the 5 years of R21 research (which are smaller studies/research that involved only 60 patients) and producing good enough results, Dr. Chenchen Wang was able to get more grant funding from the NIH to do larger-scale research which is referred to as an R01 grant. 

Using the R01 grant, we dealt with hundreds of patients verses just 60. That created a greater challenge. But with an outstanding PI (principle investigator) Dr. Chenchen Wang, and a great, smart, experienced, and knowledgeable research team of individuals, we were able to make it the research a success. Thank you again to each member of the research team!

In order to eliminate my personality element for the R01, the larger studies, we brought two other Tai Chi instructors in to teach in addition to myself. We also divided the participants into groups of roughly ten students. The groups were divided between the three Tai Chi instructors for teaching. This way we took out the factor of my “great personality” which, theoretically, could have a strong effect on the outcome.

This whole 15 years of research with Tufts and a few years of research with Dana-Farber was, for me, an unbelievable learning process and also a wonderful and humbling experience.

We compared the Tai Chi intervention to the regular care which is and was physiotherapy interventions, with hundreds of patients over a period of 5 years. Patients were randomly placed either in the Tai Chi groups or into the physiotherapy group. We also followed up with the participants one year after the studies, because we wanted to see and learn as well as collect data to how is there health a year after the research? Are they still practicing? 

Once the different researches were finished and many of the participants did not have the option to keep practicing my teaching/intervention at the research, some of the students followed me to other classes that I teach around the Boston area, and some became my private students! You can hear some of their testimonies in this video.

Over time teaching and implementing my mind body/Tai Chi intervention, the scientific community found that it produced great enough results to publish in some prestigious medical journals. 

If you are interested, take the time tp read through the different publications and articles. Learn, enjoy, and grow.

Thank you Ramel Rones (Rami).

As always, Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!


If you are interested, in privates lessons, for improving quality of life or investing in prevention. If you are suffering from years of chronic pain which western system could not help you without pain killers; email me at rami@ramelrones.com.

If you are going through cancer treatment or its side effects and you are interested in complementing the treatments and the side effects with a mind body intervention, please email me at rami@ramelrones.com and we can talk and, if possible, I will design a tailored mind-body intervention specifically for you.

 If you want to hear what that is like, you can hear about it from my student Larry Lucchino in is testimonial about my mind body intervention: testimonial from former President  & CEO of the Boston Red Sox, and current owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Larry Lucchino.

Thank you, Ramel Rones (Rami)