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.

 

Introduction to my Online Courses: Relieve and End Your Lower Back Pain with Tai Chi & QiGong

Hello mind-body students! We’re going to jump right into our second installment of the introductions to my online courses this week, by looking at my Relieve and End your Lower Back Pain with Tai Chi & QiGong course.

As a quick reminder, all of my online courses are hosted on Udemy. Udemy is a free-to-join online learning platform that allows you to buy all kinds of courses ranging from computer programming to mind-body exercises. Once you buy one of my courses, you own it forever! You will be able to watch and review it as much as you want.

In this course, I guide you through a series of stretches, movements and elements of Tai Chi and Qi Gong that help the body recover from both acute back pain, as well as long term chronic pain. In addition, you will learn the power of deep breathing and meditation and will become more relaxed, lowering any stress you may have.

This course has many diverse and useful movements and stretches with all kinds of health applications. However, it is much more focused than my long-form Tai Chi course (see my last blog), so the majority of the content is aimed at relieving the pain, soft-tissue tension, and stress that people carry in their lower back.

The course spans 72 short and digestible lectures, which combined total over 5.5 hours of video for learning, practicing, and reviewing the various techniques and postures. By investing 20 minutes a day you will greatly improve your quality of life and enjoy activities that you have not been able to enjoy, perhaps for many years.

What are the requirements?

  • Willingness to invest 20 minutes a day to relieve and end your lower back pain

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Relieve and end your lower back pain

  • Provide the tools that will allow you to live a more enjoyable and pain free life

  • Prevent future injuries to your lower back

  • Learn basic Tai Chi & Qi Gong techniques

  • Learn to relax and reduce stress

  • Learn some meditation and deep breathing techniques

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone who suffers from acute or chronic lower back pain

  • People who sit at a desk much of the time and have lower back pain and stiffness

  • People who travel a lot

  • People who would like to be more active again

  • Stay at home moms

  • Athletes who have recurring lower back pain


If you, or someone you know, is suffering from serious lower back issues, this course is for them! This time of year, Udemy is constantly doing great sales on all their courses. If you are quick, and time your purchase right, you might be able grab the course for a great discount!

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

Introduction to my Online Courses: Improve your Physical and Mental Success with Tai Chi

Hello again blog readers and students! This week, I want to begin an introduction to the various Tai Chi and Qi Gong courses that I have available for purchase online.

These courses vary in length and intensity. Some are long-form courses that you will need to practice for a month or more before you are comfortable with each technique. Others are short-form courses that are highly focused on creating a particular health impact. I made these different courses so that as many people as possible could find a course that worked for them!

The platform that I use for my courses is called Udemy. It is a platform that allows students to make an account for free, and only pay for the courses they want to take. Once you buy one of my courses, you own it forever! You will be able to watch and review it as much or as little as you want.

Today, I want to do an introduction to my most popular course (which is also my longest online course): Improve Your Physical and Mental Success with Tai Chi.

This course is a 10 week Tai Chi course which will not only introduce you to Tai Chi as a beginner, but also train you through the various movements and techniques of a longer Tai Chi form. Each movement is complemented by helpful stretches and practices that will improve both your flexibility and your strength, as well as build your skills with deep breathing and meditation.

None of my courses (so far) expect you to have any Tai Chi experience. This course is precisely designed to be most helpful for people who are new to Tai Chi. All that is required to succeed in this course is the following:

  • An interest in becoming more fit, more flexible and more relaxed

  • Willingness to invest 10-20 minutes a day in one’s wellbeing to enjoy life more

  • A small, comfortable space in your house, apartment or office where you can learn and practice

This course contains seven hours of Tai Chi content and teachings! There is a lot to learn and practice. Just a few of the things that you will experience in this course are:

  • Learn a simple, yet powerful Tai Chi form

  • Become much more flexible

  • Learn to meditate for stress reduction

  • Learn the benefits of deep breathing

  • Become stronger and more fit

  • Develop better balance

  • Reduce and prevent injuries

Even though this courses requires no Tai Chi experience, you might be wondering, “is this course, or Tai Chi in general, right for me?” Great question! My belief is that Tai Chi is great for everyone! In fact, this course is my most popular, and currently has over 2,100 students enrolled from all over the world! But if you still have doubts, the list below should give you an idea of the kinds of students that I had in mind while making the course:

  • People with little time or interest in going to the gym and taking classes

  • Stay at home moms (and dads)

  • Weekend warriors

  • Competitive (and not so competitive) athletes

  • People who travel frequently

  • Anyone who has wondered about the power of eastern health philosophy, but hasn’t known how to start exploring it

  • Anyone interested in becoming stronger and more flexible, while reducing stress

If any of those sound like you (or someone you know), I highly recommend setting up a free Udemy account and getting this course to Improve Your Physical and Mental Success with Tai Chi.

That’s all for this week! Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Tinnitus? Migraines? Try These Head, Neck and Shoulder Girdle Techniques

Good to have you back, mind-body students!

Over the summer, I had a few people reach out to me about health issues they were having with their head, neck, and/or shoulders. This area of the body, which are the shoulder girdles and everything that sits above them, have a similar group of techniques that we use to restore and maintain health.

Issues that people frequently ask me about in this area include: headaches, migraines, sore neck and upper back, frozen shoulder, eustachian tube disfunction (“clogged ears”), tinnitus (constant noise or ringing in the ears), and a variety of other forms of chronic issues or pain. Many many people suffer from these issues, especially due to the toll that working at a desk over a computer for an extended time can have.

For people that have issues like these, I will often give them a “mind-body prescription” that looks something like this:


Mind-Body Prescription for Head, Neck and Shoulder Girdle Health

Before we begin, it is key to know my Rule of 80% Effort. Especially when it comes to the head and neck area, you are in danger of doing more harm than good if you push your body too much. The head and neck require very gentle movements to heal and increase the flow of energy. So do 80% effort with all these exercises!

First Stretch: Iron on the Wall

For most people, the muscles between the neck and the shoulders (the trapezius muscle is the easiest to feel here) are as hard as a rock! This is because modern people are constantly looking down at their desk or their phone, as so this muscle is always under tension while trying to stabilize the head and neck.

Iron on the Wall takes the tension out of this muscle group and allows it to relax. Many people find this exercise does wonders for not only their neck, but their back, shoulders, and head as well. All of those areas are interconnected by muscles! Do Iron on the Wall for 3 minutes, twice a day. You can even do it with your kids!

Second Stretch: Elbows Over Head and Behind the Back

Next, we want to give a good stretch to your shoulder muscles in all direction, so we want to do two complementary exercises: Elbows Over Head, and Elbows Behind the Back.

The over head part of this technique opens up the lungs (the sides of the lungs especially) and relaxes the arms and shoulders. The behind the back part of the technique allows you to relax the neck, deltoids, and lats especially well. Give yourself space to relax and breath deep while you stretch. You’ll want to spend two minutes in each of these postures, twice a day.

Third Stretch: Rotating the Neck Using the Wall and a Block

The next technique is for increasing our range of motion when rotating the neck. You would be surprised how many people have lost a lot of mobility of their neck! Are you someone who can rotate their neck more to one side than the other? That is a very common issue too.

Rotating the Neck with the Wall and a Block is a great way to regain your lost mobility in the neck, as well as increase the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain, and reduce muscle stress.

The neck doesn’t require stretching for a long period of time. Instead, do one version of this stretch five times a day, but for only 1 minute to each side.

Fourth Stretch: Neck and Upper Back “Emergency Posture”

This technique, the upper neck stretch on a table (also called the Emergency Upper Back posture) is great for when you are in your office and your neck and upper back are really bothering you. However, it is also a classic posture for releasing tension from your head, neck, upper back, and shoulders.

Sit in this posture twice a day for 3 minutes each time.

Final Technique: Face Meditation

Finally, you want to conclude our mind-body prescription each day with a nice meditation. In this case, you should probably be doing the Face Meditation, which focuses the mind on relaxing every layer of the face until you have the sensation of being just a skull with no soft tissues pulling on it.

Many people who suffer from chronic tension, pain, or stress in or around the face and head don’t realize how much tension they hold in their face.

You can sit in this meditation for as long as you like, but I suggest doing it for 10-15 minutes at first, and then sit longer in it as you get better at relaxing and focusing the mind on each part of the face.

As always, 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!

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)