Native Yoga Toddcast

Sifu Rubia ~ Prana & Qi - Two Paths to One Destination

December 07, 2022 Todd Mclaughlin / Sifu Rubia Season 1 Episode 93
Native Yoga Toddcast
Sifu Rubia ~ Prana & Qi - Two Paths to One Destination
Show Notes Transcript

I am happy to share this discussion I had with Tai Chi & Qi Gong teacher, Sufi Rubia. Rubia teaches a unique form of Tai Chi and we have the chance to share idea about the connections between the ancient practice of Qi Gong and Yoga. During this conversation she shares how she infuses Tai Chi movement into her daily living.

Visit Sifu Rubia on her website www.taichiwellness.online
Use the promo code FREEQI for a 100% discount on her Short Qi Gong Course.
You can follow her on Instagram at @weiwutaichi

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Todd McLaughlin:

Welcome to Native yoga Toddcast. So happy you are here. My goal with this channel is to bring inspirational speakers to the mic in the field of yoga, massage bodywork and beyond. Follow us native yoga, and check us out at Native yoga center.com. All right, let's begin Hello, welcome to Native Yoga Toddcast for you. Thank you. Today I have a special guest named Sifu Rubia. And she is a Tai Chi Chi Gong instructor. She also practices yoga, she's based out of California. And I recommend that you check out her website, it's w w w dot Tai Chi wellness dot online. I have that in the description below and or wherever you're listening. And so this way that you if you want to check out her courses, she has Tai Chi courses, which are amazing, she gave me an opportunity to take her Tai Chi Fundamentals course of which I was able to participate in which I enjoy immensely. Tai Chi is an incredible art form. And I really think it goes well with yoga. So I'm hoping that you will also take a look at her information. She is also offering for those of you that would like to try a free course with her. There's a promo code free chi which is spelt freeqi. And that's for her short Qigong course, which you'll see on her website. So again, I'll print that down below. And I think that's about it. On that note, let's go ahead and get started. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. I'm so delighted to have sifu Rubia here with me today. Rubia. How are you doing?

Sifu Rubia:

Hi, good. Good morning, or it's afternoon for you. I'm well Todd, how are you?

Todd McLaughlin:

I'm doing really well. I'm so excited to have a chance to speak with you. And I feel like I You said you just finished teaching a class. Is that true? Yeah, private class, private class. And you are a Tai Chi and Qi Gong practitioner and teacher. Correct. Wonderful. Can you help me understand the difference between Tai Chi and Chi Gong?

Sifu Rubia:

Oh, well, Tai Chi is the martial expression of your Qigong practice, essentially. So Chi Gong is is it she and for your Yogi listeners is the equivalent to prana and Gong simply means to work to cultivate to toil. So a chi gong practice is just that. So you're working on your lifeforce, your vital energy, through specific movements, there are many different system, Qigong systems out there that target target different things. And so that's the cultivation of your of your prana. And then the Tai Chi is the martial expression of that cultivation. And that's a simple way to to understand the difference between the two.

Todd McLaughlin:

When you say martial expression, meaning the actual physical movements.

Sifu Rubia:

Yeah, correct. So Tai Chi is also known as the Grand ultimate for martial artists. And usually a typical path to your Tai Chi is a kung fu practice. So people evolve into their their Tai Chi, but every Tai Chi movement has a martial expression to it. I don't typically teach martial expressions just because the venue actually requires oftentimes requires me to, to teach it more as a meditation, which it also is, so I teach it primarily as a moving meditation.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. Can you give me some insight into how you got started? And what was your first introduction to Tai Chi was?

Sifu Rubia:

Sure, sure. The first class the first Tai Chi class I went to I literally went knocked out? Have

Todd McLaughlin:

you felt weirded out by that first? Like, what was it like that? Sorry? What was it that that made you want to walk out like you were frustrated, or you thought it was weird or

Sifu Rubia:

all of that it was a combination of a few things. And I remember the feeling very vividly. And by then I'd already had maybe a five year yoga practice. So I was familiar with mind body movement. But the Tai Chi just brought it to another level of being really, really present and uncomfortable. And I just, it was uncomfortable. And your ego gets in the way. And you know, like, there are layers to spiritual practice and your spiritual evolution. And that's where I was at that moment in time. Struggling with with that part of myself, so yeah, I walked out of class. 50 years later, here we are, yeah, yes. My initial experience with Tai

Todd McLaughlin:

Chi, can I ask you where that was?

Sifu Rubia:

Where was it? I think it was here in California. So I'm not from here. I'm from Canada. And from the East Coast, and the I was visiting or traveling here in California. And the the person I was with was actually a teacher. And he brought me to class. And that's how, that's how that started. And then it took me a couple of years after that before taking another class. Just because like the experience was just I was just so weirded out that I never even considered going back. And then the second time, I can't even say that it's stuck, but it wasn't as uncomfortable. And then the third time is when it stuck.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. What do you think about the third time that made it stick? What was it that caused you to feel that way?

Sifu Rubia:

So I don't know. I think I was I was in a different place. I was, uh, you know, I, you know, was a little more seasoned, you know, you transcended my ego a little bit more, and I was a little more open and receptive to the practice. So I guess that's what made the difference. And I see that in people who show up to class and you have you always have to meet as a teacher, you know, this, you have to meet people where they are. And it's, it. It has to, it has to come from within like I the first time I was, I was not forced into a situation. But I it was, it wasn't something I was willingly going into, I think that's part of the breakdown that happened. And then. So by the third time was really it was a willingness from me. So I have to answer that question. That's really the difference.

Todd McLaughlin:

What do you think intrigued you about it when you had that switch to where you were going from being pulled into class versus let me seek it out? What and you already had a yoga practice? So it sounds like you had cultivated a passion for movement and mind body awareness? What was it about tai chi that caused you to want to try it again? Was it that initial kind of pushback that you felt from being uncomfortable in that really focused space? Or do you think there was something about watching the movement and watching people practice that you that got you intrigued you can you put your finger on that?

Sifu Rubia:

I love how you put that it's actually the latter. So to really observe people doing tai chi, just watching them it's meditative. So I think yes, that was definitely the pull back. Yeah. In that space. Yeah. Yeah, I love that you brought that up?

Todd McLaughlin:

Oh, that's cool. Well, it's funny, because the first time I saw Tai Chi was on a video. And I remember I was with a group of people. And I had a massage teacher that was really into tai chi, and he put the video on and I think, because the reaction of the other people in the room, they started to giggle and laugh a little bit, kind of like, what is this? Like? What is this person doing? Because the person was moving so slow. And so I feel like my first impression got formed by the reaction of the others around me. I was intrigued. I thought, well, that looks really interesting what's going on, but I remember because everyone else is wanting to make fun. You know, I didn't let me have like maybe my own first initial experience. And then my my second chance getting to come across Tai Chi. I was in Thailand, studying Thai massage and my Thai massage teacher would go and teach Tai Chi. Really early in the morning and Chiang Mai in Thailand. And I remember going in there I like a big soccer field. And there's more than 100 people would show up to practice. And I was blown away by the energy and, and it looks so easy, but then to try to actually follow. And I remember people saying, Wow, that guy, he's a real Tai Chi master like he really knows what he's doing. And so I'd sit back and just kind of watch him and but I still don't have that eye yet for being able to detect who the master at the art is. Can you? When you watch people practice? Is there something that you pick up on? When you watch their practice that gives you that indication? Obviously, you study it, and you teach it. So you have some understanding of these nuances. But can you clue me in a little bit as to what you look for? And notice when in your own practice and another's? Yeah, I

Sifu Rubia:

love that. I mean, this is a great conversation. Yeah, you're you're really tuned in it's a different, this is a different type of conversation we're having which I love. So as your practice evolves, there's there's a somatic experience as a visceral experience that that happens through any kind of, you know, physical movement in practice over time, you, you have these different shifts that you literally feel internally. So once you start integrating those happenings, you start seeing it and other people I or other people's practices, or not, so you can you can usually that's how I see it, I look for people's I literally look for their center and where their center drops in their practice. So that's how I can tell if someone's will how far along their practices I guess, interesting. And then you know what? I've seen some Taichi masters. I hate that word. Sorry. I've seen some some advanced practitioners, where there they seem technically sound, but there's a piece missing. And that that has a lot to do with the mental and then you start getting into people's psyches and stuff like that, which is a whole other ballgame. But it comes out in the physical.

Todd McLaughlin:

Interesting. Do you mean that like you, they, you know, air quotes, quotes master, and then you go talk to them, and you find out that they're not really all that nice. And that's, and that's the case, you know, we won't say anything bad about anybody won't use names,

Sifu Rubia:

but I just started talking about what my teachers know. I mean, I mean,

Todd McLaughlin:

is that because I noticed that in the yoga world, too, like, you'll see somebody say, like, Wow, look how advanced they are, oh, my gosh, your practice is so insane and so amazing. And, and then you go to speak with them. And there's just a big wall there. And you kind of wonder like, oh, man, the the impression that I got from the visual and the external, I thought that would be matched up with this really sweet, compassionate individual. And sometimes it doesn't necessarily match is and I was wondering if that's what you're referring to, or something different.

Sifu Rubia:

It's a little bit of that. And that's not really what I was saying. But maybe, you know, in like the deeper layer of it, I was speaking more from a technical physical point of view and looking at someone's practice. But you're right there, there's a lot of disconnect between someone's actual spiritual practice and someone's physical practice. And you you get to see that once you start interacting with with people, yeah, but at the end, I've gone through that with with my teachers, and at the end of the day, everybody, we're all we're all having a human experience. Yes. And it's not put it's really not taking the take the lesson, forget the person, that's how I see it, and I even teach that way. Like, don't look at me, don't, don't really pay attention to what I'm doing through my life. Pay attention to what you're doing. And then the, the work itself will transform you. So allow that to happen and forget about everything else. So take the work and forget the forget the guru that you're trying to, to connect to or look up with. And because that cultivates disappointment, and I've I've gone through that path of disappointment with my own teachers and then you have to really and then you start teaching and then you the lights being shone like on you. And you have to you you know compassion that's where you start cultivating empathy and compassion and really deep understanding for For the human condition and that we're all in this soup together,

Todd McLaughlin:

can you share a little bit of the history of what you understand in terms of the origins of Tai Chi Chi Gong?

Sifu Rubia:

I'm not sure I understand the question. So the where

Todd McLaughlin:

where it originates.

Sifu Rubia:

So it's all from the Chinese. It's a Chinese art form, I am really bad at history. I, my teachers have that. And so when I need some kind of lineage, you know, back up into where it comes from, I go to them, but it's not. That's not the information I retain, unfortunately. So people don't come to me for

Todd McLaughlin:

I'm curious, because in India, there's a strong like guru disciple relationship. Kind of underpinning in the yoga traditions, is there a similar type of hierarchy and or structure in the Chinese in this Chinese system?

Sifu Rubia:

There is and I'm that Rebel Without a Cause? Kind. And I've always been like that, that's just part of my personality. I don't believe in that. I don't believe in latch. It's a codependent relationship, so I am not for it. I don't support that at all. So yes, it exists within the martial arts system is a few, you know, through the yogi Yogi system, I don't believe in it, I don't support it, I think, I think our rules are to support people and their, their process. And again, coming back to what I said earlier, meeting people where they are and just, you know, extending a hand and be in kind and sharing your knowledge. So that's, that's what I'm doing. I'm just sharing the knowledge, I'm sharing the tools, and presenting it in a way that that is very practical. So yeah, that's, that's how I present work. And then I know, the work deep enough to understand that it will transform the individual who's seeking without my presence. So nice. You take the tools, here they are, they're yours do do what you want with them. And then that's my approach.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. And you had made mention in relation to teaching and or observation of students that you can tell that like, where they're working from in relation to like, how sound like you said, like, how, how much they can drop into it. And or, I was kind of thinking like, maybe maybe if that's in relationship to how they use their core, where they're moving from, whether they're moving from like their chest and or if they're moving from their abdomen or from their pelvis? Is that what you were referring to?

Sifu Rubia:

Yeah, from a physical point of view, yes. So in Tai Chi, you're working at opening the waist, so every movement is guided by the waist. But in order for that to happen, your route has to be very solid. So it's observing how those two are coexisting, I guess. And then the expression of it comes out through the fingertips in the hands so you can see it, you can see the energy moving. And when you've you were there in China observing or in Thailand observing 100 people doing it, you could literally see energy moving, I'm sure. Yeah. And so you're, you're looking for that, that expression, because it gets, it gets its energy that gets moved and expressed outward. But a lot of a lot of times, it just it stays contained. So it's, that's why you get into Tai Chi sword and weapons so that that energy has a place to go thereafter.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. I'm super curious, because in yoga, we might learn specific arrangements of poses and then after enough years of practice, we might feel inclined to practice by ourselves at home and then like, work off of whatever we feel in the moment like maybe we'll feel like yeah, a backbend would be really good right now and practice it back then, in Tai Chi, are there specific forms that you learn and then when you get good at it, you could make something up spontaneously and or is it seen as No, you definitely follow this specific form from like this movement to that movement? Is there like a free flow or like a Vinyasa flow of Tai Chi.

Sifu Rubia:

I hope Ask your question.

Todd McLaughlin:

Thanks for Yeah,

Sifu Rubia:

I love your questions because they come from a yogic perspective. And you've obviously been practicing for a long time. And you've probably been teaching for a long time. So your questions are, are super interesting, and I appreciate them. Thank you. So yes and no, I, in the same way that you, I mean, for us, and as there, there's a reason why you do one, often after another, because you're opening one thing, and then you have to not necessarily close it out. But balance that out. Because you can really start messing with people's nervous systems if you don't. So in that sense, I would say if you're, if you're yogi, my opinion is stick to stick to the script, because there's a reason why it's set up that way. And you don't want to go off the deep end for because you're doing it your own way. And I say that actually very seriously, because you are you are messing with not messing, but you are working with people's nervous systems, and the spinal cord and the whole, you know, spinal column. And when you start if you start moving in the wrong sequences, and you're you're moving energy in the wrong way, so you have to be very careful. And you're referring to more advanced practices where yes, okay, this feels good now in this moment, but did I do this to make sure that that doesn't happen? You follow what I do. For for Tai Chi and Chi Gong, I mean, they're, they're called systems for a reason. Because they, the movements build upon each other in certain certain ways. So you, you want to, you want to stick to again, I'd like to stick to the script. But what will happen with Tai Chi and with Chi Gong, and what I've noticed in my own practice, is that you you end up moving through the world in a whole different way. So your body becomes more fluid, you become more water, like and so spontaneity, I would say, like, I'll find myself moving, you know, moving the ball or doing like grasping sparrows tail, or ward off and roll back, like in the middle of an airport, just because I feel like I need to release something. But, and that's, there's nothing wrong with doing that. Based on this, how it's structured, I guess it is a little bit different now that I'm kind of answering your question in real time, and you're making me think about it. I would say there's maybe a little less hazard with with tight doing that in Tai Chi than with with an asana practice. But you do end up walking through the world differently. There's a flow to your body that yeah, that just exists within you that I never found in my yoga practice. So I only my yoga practice changed when I had a Tai Chi practice. Nice. That the, the the internal circular movement of Qigong and Tai Chi, that energy once you bring that to your yoga practice, it changes that completely. You just you start moving through your vinyasas in a whole different.

Todd McLaughlin:

Wow. That's cool. That makes sense. I'm curious when you say circular energy, are you visualizing like going from the top of the head down the front of the body up the back of the body and making like a circle that way? Are you doing spirals? Like up and down? When you say circular? Can you help me understand what or what that looks like? Or?

Sifu Rubia:

No, that that meditation that you're referring to, we call in? Not my world, but in this world, we call it connecting the cosmic orbit. So you're pulling up at the perineum. And then you're, you're putting the top of the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and you're circulating back up from the back and then down the front. So you're creating that that cosmic orbit and then you you can go into the different pathways and how one goes up, one goes down as they're both going up and down. Anyways, that's a little too technical for this conversation. But yeah, so that's one circular motion that you you create through through meditation. And then, I mean, some Tai Chi drills or you know what I mean by drills, right? So, specific movements that you do over and over again help you develop something else. So there are certain practices with a Tai Chi ball, for example, that cultivate that circular circular movement in your body, in your, in your joints in your, especially the shoulder joints in the hip joints. But those are more advanced practices, I would say. But it's having gone through those types of exercises or drills that develop that circular secure energy. But those are really advanced practices within within Tai Chi. Got it?

Todd McLaughlin:

You were kind enough to give me access to your course, which is Tai Chi Fundamentals course on your website, Tai Chi wellness dot online. And you I saw that you filmed one of the shots is from on top of a hill overlooking the ocean in Southern California. Like on a magical day, like one of those classic southern California days where it's just so perfect. And beautiful. And where did you film that? I was I couldn't I couldn't figure it out. Well, lucky.

Sifu Rubia:

My absence I found that place. Well, nothing's really my house sense. Everything's kind of in sync. That is in the Pacific Palisades, and it's up on the it's up on the cliff. That's overlooking Santa Monica beach, I think

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. Nice. I know that area. Well. That's a beautiful spot. Have you lived out here. Um, I did. You know, my grandparents had a home in Pacific Palisades. So every summer I would, I would travel there and spend not every summer but a lot of summers and spend time with them. And then both my wife is from Newport Beach area. And we used to live in San Diego together for a few years. And then I've also lived up in Northern California up in Garberville, up in northern near Mendocino, or Mendocino County. So I love California. It's so beautiful out there. So yeah, when I saw that visual, the ocean and you were, you know, just what a great backdrop. It looks so nice. Did a great job. Yeah,

Sifu Rubia:

reason why I did it that way. Because he saw the videos like the meridian videos, I was looking for space. Like, why like, empty space next to me. So I could place those videos in the editing after. That's why I chose well, one of the reasons why I chose it. But

Todd McLaughlin:

Can Can you share with me what your experience has been like in the juxtaposition and or similarity of teaching in person, like you mentioned, you got a chance to teach a private lesson, which is such a great opportunity to be able to work one on one in a room with somebody and then teaching via the digital platform. Are you finding that you're having just as much success maybe even more with people understanding your techniques? Do you find that something gets traded in the digital element? Or what what are you finding?

Sifu Rubia:

So well, when you I teach intuitively so you when you're with someone you can you can see everything that's going on and making little adjustments, small group classes or individual one on one? The the thought that I had when I started producing these online courses, is that okay? You take 10 years of teaching, and how do you distill it into this person who's watching it? They're coming into your class for the first time. So what do you do in your in your class for first timers? So you you break things down? Right. So that's how I that's how I approached it. And I was, as I was sharing earlier, I'm just here to give you the information. So this is how the information when you do it in this particular way, this this is how it can evolve for you. And you can do that over and over again for the rest of your life. And still find something new, every single time. Yeah. So the thought process digitally was really distilling it into think back to your first class. Think back to what people cut, like the knowledge, which is mostly none because they're here to learn, right? So how do you present it for the first time in a way that's accessible? And then that's all you can do? accessible and safe. That's the other way. So that's all you can do. And it's only because I taught for 10 years prior to producing this I would never do that as a first or even a five year teacher like it wouldn't have made sense. It wouldn't have come out that way. So it's different I mean, you have to digitally you have to be just be Be aware and not give not give too much information because I'm, I'm from the mindset less is more always. And small pieces, you know people digest things. It takes time. Yeah, I have students that, you know, six, seven years after they remember something I said in the first or first week that they came to class and they're like, you know, when you said that, now it makes sense. So people digest things that at the pace that they do, and

Todd McLaughlin:

yeah, this is one of the things I hear from people that have switched over to the digital teaching format that they say is one of the great benefits of it is that because it can be replayed over and over again that, you know, you can watch that program and learn and study in the New Year Later revisit it, and almost have a completely different experience. Oh, absolutely. That's cool. Yeah, that's amazing. Can you share a little bit about how when you encounter stress and or a difficult situation in life, how Tai Chi helps you to move through that in a more graceful way?

Sifu Rubia:

Hmm, that's a great question. So when you're, when you're participating, or you're, you're engaging in yoga, tai chi, art, any kind of expression that works for you, your that's your therapy, whether you you realize it or not, you're in a therapeutic space. So for for, for me, it's been a handful of things. So Tai Chi, for me has become this, this place that I can drop into. Now I can drop into it quickly because it's integrated in my body. Because I gave it the time and space to do that. It helps me it just helps me come back to my center, come back to my body. Yeah, it teaches you how to teach Tai Chi yoga teaches you how to be present. So I think when you're going through a stressful time or situation or anything that life kind of the chaos, normal chaos of life, if you have tools or something that grounds you, then, you know, seek that out. Whatever it is. That's been the gift for me. Again, I found it more all of that I found more in my Tai Chi practice than met and then my yoga practice, which is, and I practice, and now I practice more tight, more yoga.

Todd McLaughlin:

So you still work with both. It's not like you just said, Okay, yoga, I'll put my mat up in the attic. And I'm never doing that again. And let me just only do Tai Chi, you've been able to integrate them together. Mm hmm.

Sifu Rubia:

Yeah. What a gift that's been. It's really? Yeah, that's cool, great opportunity that I was given to be able to integrate both practices. And I'm a very specifically don't teach yoga because that's my practice. Nice. So that belongs to me and Tai Chi belongs to everybody else that everybody else can have that and it pours out of me in that way. But yoga is really not for me.

Todd McLaughlin:

When Well, you're a Tai Chi instructor? Do you go and take other Tai Chi instructors classes in your local neighborhood? Are there are there any other Tai Chi instructors in your local, local neighborhood because I have people who come into yoga, they're like, I really want Tai Chi. I want Tai Chi, we want to find Tai Chi class. And so I I'm always looking on Google. And I do know someone now, locally who does teach but for the longest time, it was something I could never find, or that I could refer people to. I'm curious how now California is a whole nother game and sense of like, you can't throw a rock and not hit probably a Tai Chi studio somewhere in Southern California. But no, not no, no.

Sifu Rubia:

Not obvious. Yeah. Well, the other thing, it's there and I teach. I've learned family systems. So family systems are handed down like literally generation to generation. So it's, it's not I know, there's a little I don't know, maybe Tai Chi isn't there yet, but there's something a little more sacred to it. That's that's I don't know maybe hasn't been In commercial yoga has been or maybe that's where it's going to I don't know.

Todd McLaughlin:

But like special Tai Chi leggings or something? Like there'll be a brand new fitness store that'll sell.

Sifu Rubia:

I have to say, I can't see it. Yeah, I can't say that I happen to point. But I can't see it.

Todd McLaughlin:

What does that turn into? Or does that look like in terms of like local students seeking you out? Is it something that you're needing to always educate people about tai chi to try to generate interest? Or is it that people are specifically finding you knowing that they want Tai Chi?

Sifu Rubia:

Well, when I took a break from teaching for the I haven't taught group I teach privately, because I have students who have been with me for a long time. And so if they're putting in the work that I show up to help them right, so that's that's kind of where I come from. But I've taken a break for the past four years, I've been taught like a class class only because like, I needed to work on myself. And there's, there's some stuff that I wanted to evolve in my own practice, and you need to step back, you need to step back from teaching, you need to like, grow a little bit and gain some some wisdom and dive into your own practice. And sometimes you can only do that when you don't have other energies pulling at you for for the information. Yeah. So that's where I've been in the past few years. Got it, besides the digital stuff, but I haven't really been teaching new classes, but that's going to change. So I'm ready to get back into the circuit again, and start teaching I usually teach it like the, for the city, like the parks and recs, or YMCA, stuff like that. So it's hard, it's harder to find what would you Tai Chi teachers are a lot harder to find, because it takes a long time to evolve in actual practice. Is just set up differently.

Todd McLaughlin:

I don't know, have you in your studies is so like, I know, in the yoga world, there's, you know, there's iyengar yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. And then there was on you, sorry, yoga, there's all these different styles. Obviously, there's different you had made mentioned earlier, there's different styles of Tai Chi, when you got into Tai Chi, did you like fall into a specific style that you were with for a period of time before something else caught your attention? Or how many different styles of Tai Chi Have you been exposed to?

Sifu Rubia:

So there's classical the most perform practiced. Style is a young family style. So there's a couple of branches in the young family style, but you can always tell what a young style is. And that's the most practice worldwide. And that's where I started. And that's kind of what that's the lane that I'm still in. That's the one I stay in. There's just so much work to do. And in one style that Yeah, that's fine with me. And then there's Chen Style, which is a very different energy, it's a little How do I explain that it's just a different, different energy. And you can always tell the difference between the Chen style and the yang style. So those are the two that I've I've come across, there are a couple of more styles out there. Again, not the historian here. I'm more of a medic meditation and you know, making the mind body connection and spiritual path kind of thing. So, yeah, I'm fine with with my own style. I've done you know, some Kung Fu and different kung fu styles, different Qigong styles. I've explored a lot. You know, I've studied under certain teachers and I have left them I've gotten studied under other teachers and left them and so I'm the rebels so I won't stick to one teacher and I've had teachers who really, they didn't like that. I did that. But again, I'm not into the codependent being.

Todd McLaughlin:

I understand

Sifu Rubia:

why are we doing that? Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin:

There's the same exact thing in the yoga world was so I'm sure you've come across that as well. Yeah.

Sifu Rubia:

I mean, I again, not to say that it's wrong. I just don't believe it or not. I'm not a subscriber to it. So I believe in in personal choice, I believe in personal sovereignty and export. ation and discovery, curiosity. Everybody has something to share. And so seek out, seek out what that person has to share with you and keep it moving. Or or not. Or stay there I you know, it's that there's no judgment on it. I'm just sharing my experience.

Todd McLaughlin:

I understand. I appreciate that. Um, is there like a, you know, for me, when I saw the large group of people all practicing in Thailand really made me helps me to understand how, how real Tai Chi is that there? There are serious enthusiast and then to see a whole bunch of them together at the same time, had more impact on me. I'm curious is there if you could take a dream trip? Is there like a place that's like the Tai Chi Mecca where you go, and there's like, hundreds of people all practicing tai chi, together? Like, is there a Is there a place or a group? That that that's known for in the Tai Chi world?

Sifu Rubia:

That's a great question. I just, yeah. I mean,

Todd McLaughlin:

it's like, I think in yoga,

Sifu Rubia:

I just can't answer it. I mean, I have no desire to go to China on I have no desire for it. But I will speak of the group energy though, that having experienced both like a solitude like practice that's more solitary and a group practice, there's definitely a difference in both and the the gift of the group practice is you're tapping into everybody's energy around you. And it's, you get harried if you get, like swept up in it. And it's a really beautiful experience. So and if I see a group of people doing tai chi, very, very rare, but when I have, I've always like, dived in, because it's, it's a beautiful experience to be in that ebb and flow with other people. Energetically, it's it's really, that's where people congregate to do it. Yeah, yeah. There's a sensation that's palpable that that feeds feeds you. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin:

Is there a text that people go to when they are interested in learning about tai chi? Like saying Yoga people will seek out either Bhagavad Gita or maybe Yoga Sutras of Patanjali? Is there an iconic text out of China or or even modern that people gravitate toward or that's really popular?

Sifu Rubia:

Yeah, that question I can. Okay. I feel like, yeah, my knowledge of Tai Chi needs some refinement. I guess.

Todd McLaughlin:

I'm not being too nitpicky. Here. I just love

Sifu Rubia:

everything. I really, really doubt a chain that follows a Taoist philosophy in that sense. That would be the, the book that gets you into at least the mindset of being in flow with nature and being just being able to let go, I mean, Tai Chi is all about letting go and surrendering and not surrendering, but yielding. So the Tao de Ching, there are a lot of great Tai Chi books out there. I can leave a list with you that you can put in your show notes. All right. And there are a lot of them are one of them is technical, like tai chi for the classics, I think it's called. Let me see if I can find it. And see it. I'll give you a list. So that one's a good one to start understanding some some practical aspects to Tai Chi practice. If you're more like if you're more brain centered or literal, like you function more if you if you read. There's a Harvard book. Harvard wrote a book on Tai Chi. So that's a really good technical book as well. I'm a practitioner. So although I love reading, I need to practice I need to like get into my body and some people who write all these Tai Chi books actually don't have a Tai Chi practice. Just follow the people who are doing the arms. Right and that's fine. And there's value you know, there's there's definitely value there but it's a practice. It's a physical practice. So you have to you have to do to really get into it. And then there are other books that I'll share with you that have a have personal stories on some of the teacher from the lineage that I'm from that are very interesting books as well.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. I know we're working in audio realm right now, if I'm a brand new student, and I come to and I get to work one on one and or take a private, where do you start with me? Like, what, what's the beginning? What's the starting point,

Sifu Rubia:

the starting point is to feel your feet. Take your shoes off, and feel every part of your your foot, both foot middle and foot, heel. Feeling articulating the the toes and rooting those into the ground without gripping to the ground, but really feeling a depth to, to the floor or the feet of the earth beneath your feet. So you start in a Gucci witchy stance, so just you know, feet hip width apart, it's like bend in the knee. Tailbone is gently drops, and not tucked. So nice, long, soft spine, and arms or, you know, just gently by your side, palms towards the Earth. Feeling to pull from the crown, crown of your head towards the heavens. And just standing in that energy for a little for a little, little bit. That itself is very, very challenging.

Todd McLaughlin:

You have such a nice voice, though, it makes me feel relaxed, just to hear you kind of explain that. So

Sifu Rubia:

for podcast purposes,

Todd McLaughlin:

is there because there is like an energetic component. And I'm sure you've come across some people that might right away really gravitate toward grasping these concepts? And then maybe you come across situations where maybe it's very difficult for people to get grounded and start to feel your feet. What what do you have any tricks and or tips for those of us that are just having a hard time like feeling, feeling that like getting getting relaxed enough in our minds that we can actually start to relax? Or is the practice take care of the word, use the word relax,

Sifu Rubia:

I use the word soften, release, draw. I never used the word relax very mindfully to because sometimes, a lot of times, oftentimes that word ignites tension. So either through you know, past traumas or other things that people are navigating, that's why I've never brought that word to, to class. So it's really bringing people in their bodies is I do visual in class I do, I didn't do this so much in the online course. And now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I should redo it, but I often visualized, help them visualize literally from the root up. So creating like a lot of meditators like to use white light, so you know, a ball of light that kind of gently travels and circulates up through through the joints and all of that stuff. So it's, it's getting into feeling your body and being aware of your body. There's so many great tools out there for meditation. And the key to meditation is to understand that you're not the goal is not to have your mind empty. It's not the goal. The goal is to be aware that you have thoughts and you're not trying to get rid of your thoughts is to be aware that they're there. And how do you either redirect them or let them go. So becoming in a state of constantly being able to let go and to release and all that's, that's developing a meditative life style, as opposed to meditative practice, right? So then it's time you have to give yourself the time to do it. You know, these these things don't develop overnight, you have to give yourself the gift of healing the gift of relief and all of these things.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice if I were to say memorize and or if I used your routine that you teach the routines that you do teach in your course. And do you recommend that right when I wake up? Is it like a yoga thing where early early early in the morning or is it something that you're consciously scheduled time in your day to do practice, or do you find that you recommend people for the evening? Is there any sort of protocol there and or ideal Tai Chi time?

Sifu Rubia:

No, I would say just do it. That's changed for me over time. Like, I used to love early morning practices. And now I find myself training in the middle of the day, just because my life is just changed. So just be fluid with your practice. Don't give up your practice, but be fluid with it. Some people work better if they're, they're more diligent and consistent and Same time, same place and this and that. That's what it takes do it i There's no, I don't know, there's no rule in my book. Again, I'm not a follower. I just like to be balanced. You know, my goal is if there is a goal is to always be in equanimity. And to, to work towards that. And whatever the work requires that to be to end there, then that's what I'm going to do. Most people practice in the morning, just because the vibration is different in the morning, so you see a lot of Tai Chi practitioners practice at like, four o'clock in the morning, five o'clock in the morning, just because the vibration of the Earth is different. So they're trying to connect to a different vibration at that point in time. What are you waiting for?

Todd McLaughlin:

What are your thoughts about indoors versus being outdoors in nature,

Sifu Rubia:

Oh, definitely outdoors any, any way you can be outdoors, because that's the practice the practice is coming back to the Delta changes is being connected to nature and its natural flow. So when you can connect with the vibration of the trees of the earth it's a whole other experience. But if if you only have a closet to work in, then do that and picture yourself and by the ocean or in a park or whatever the ideal is always to be in a park, though.

Todd McLaughlin:

You made mention that like say you're in the airport, and you just have to like release something that you'll be you'll that you'll you know, bust out. I like the terms that you use. I don't I'm not familiar with the I love how in Tai Chi, what was some of the names of the routines again? Can you say some of what they're called? Oh,

Sifu Rubia:

grasping sparrows tail, grasping

Todd McLaughlin:

sparrows tail, I love that.

Sifu Rubia:

Yeah, it's a beautiful movement to the difficult movement. It's not difficult technically, it's, it's difficult in the sense that you you, when you start it, you started by holding a ball. So you think about, you're holding this ball, whatever it is that you love or care about is in this ball, and then all of a sudden, you have to let it go. So the movement is literally placing your hand gently over this ball, and with the other hand, allowing it to release and let go. So it's a difficult one in that sense. We hold on to stuff we're hoarders by nature, it's part of human nature is to hoard. So to have a movement that that is fundamentally about letting go with it can be a little challenging. So that's grasping sparrows tail, and then there's,

Todd McLaughlin:

do you think the name grasping sparrows tail, but sounds like you're letting the sparrows tail? You're letting? So is it almost like you're grasping and letting go? Is there are there? Are they do you find that the names of the Tai Chi movements are stories in and of themselves?

Sifu Rubia:

Yes. Absolutely. They are. Yeah. So grasping sparrows tail, yeah. So it's, uh, you're you're literally holding on and letting go because the sparrow doesn't want to be held down right. It's a bird. I don't know one bird who wants to stay. So yeah, it's it's, it's finding that that balance point of holding on and letting go. And then there's warding off and rollback and those are also beautiful movements.

Todd McLaughlin:

warding off like warding off a spirit like warding off is that is our chair.

Sifu Rubia:

Yes, so warding off like pushing, you're pushing away, warding off and then rolling back. So you're, you're gathering again. So you're, you're pushing away gathering again and when you look at Tai Chi one thing I'm sure you'll know you've known It just is. It's, it looks like a wave. So they're flowing in high tide flowing back low tides constantly. So you're in this ebb and flow constantly and that's Listen, that's the chaos of life. Oh, it's ebbing and following.

Todd McLaughlin:

So the idea of the movement is really to mimic nature and or low with nature's as is. Yeah. Yeah. Nice.

Sifu Rubia:

The Styles themselves were actually, this is a little bit of history and I won't I will only say or what I know for sure other than that, I can't elaborate anymore. But the the styles, the Tai Chi styles were designed on someone observing a a crane and a snake getting into a fight. And the interaction between these two animals Yeah, it's, it's all about, yeah. Which natural cycles

Todd McLaughlin:

which I would imagine would make us a little bit more observant of nature in general. You know, like to be able to go to the beach and see maybe like, sandpiper fishing for crab in the sea. But, you know, like to start watching nature and think how would I try to translate that wakes

Sifu Rubia:

you up and into? Yeah, everything in my life, I relate to Tai Chi now that I see through the lens of he can relate it back to either my practice or just even the practice separate from my practice. Yeah, you, you it, that's what I was sharing earlier. If they I just you move through the world in a whole different way. When you really integrate this, this type of practice.

Todd McLaughlin:

That's cool. It's funny, because when you made mention that, since you had a yoga practice, and then when you got into Tai Chi, it made you a little bit more fluid in your, in your life, and I almost imagined you like taking groceries out of the back of the car and like making some sort of like really, really like smooth movement of like, swinging the grocery bag up onto the countertop. I know that's silly. But I mean, it seems like you could almost turn every movement into some type of Tai Chi.

Sifu Rubia:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. When I first started I was so into it. Like I loved how it felt by after the third class of course, not the first time. I did my third time. But when I when I got into like the teacher training part of it when I got into like my, my schooling of it. I was really, I was really into it. And I would, I would I would move in a different way just because I wanted to feel I just wanted to feel that all the time. So in my husband at the time, I'm I'm divorced now but my husband at the time, he would look at me like what are you doing? Okay, because yeah, you move differently, you move more mindfully, softly.

Todd McLaughlin:

It sounds like it would make life a little bit more fun. Because you could just be more creative.

Sifu Rubia:

It it's grounded me more for sure. So if there's something going on around me that's chaotic. I can I can stand in my center. And that I link back to my my Tai Chi practice for sure.

Todd McLaughlin:

What do you notice with like, when we get a hurry? We will I mean, I'm in Florida, you're in California, different weather patterns. But we went hurricanes come here. It's crazy to watch. It's really interesting to watch how how stirred up everybody gets like literally the wind starts blowing and people are driving around really crazy and honkin and rushing to Home Depot and trying to get all their supplies and you know being really mean in lines and that kind of thing. And pushy not always, not always like I think our community is amazing. And I see people come together to sow. There's incredible things about that. But I love the wind, like when the wind really starts to rip around here. I just love it. But I see that some people get really agitated. Do you think Tai Chi could help us to like stay grounded even though the weather feels to us? I know. Earthquakes there.

Sifu Rubia:

There's a movement called cloud hands. cloud hands. Yeah, cloud hands and you're the the you're trying to move through clouds but you're moving the clouds. So try moving cloud.

Todd McLaughlin:

Now it's cloud hands like a Tai Chi movement are you mean this is a group of people that just decided to be cloud?

Sifu Rubia:

It's an actual practice called Cloud and

Todd McLaughlin:

you watch the clouds and almost imagine you're moving them and try to move your hands in a way that the clouds are moving.

Sifu Rubia:

Imagine the amount. Imagine the touch of your hand against the cloud without breaking the clouds. So you don't want to break the cloud, you want to move it. Wow. That's, that's the feeling that you want. So it's a feeling that that both envelops you. And grounds you at the same time that that move is

Todd McLaughlin:

above that visual. Or just that. Yeah. How to

Sifu Rubia:

get into that one. It's a little more in Yeah, because you were you brought up when so I thought it had hands right away. So in that movement, you are you're you're moving the waist is being you know, the waist is guiding movement, and then your arms are floating as if you are moving the clouds. And that's, that's a movement that if you were in the middle of chaos, that would ground you for sure. Nice. Yeah. Nice. I've never experienced tornado, I wouldn't know. But that's where I would go.

Todd McLaughlin:

I'm definitely gonna start experimenting with cloud hands. Yeah. It makes me think that I see what you mean, how have you relate some of this to yoga? It could change the yoga experience to from say, if I'm really rigid, and my, I've got to perform this posture, and I have to get everything lined up this way. And then I'll look perfect. And or maybe that's even possible to look perfect, or in all that and to make a little bit more of like Cloud body. Like a cloud. Yeah.

Sifu Rubia:

So I mean, listen, there's a certain there's not a certain there's a definite sacred geometry to an asana practice and a well structured, asana practice for sure. And the tai chi, what it does, it goes, it goes deeper inside that structure that that to me has been the difference. Is that it? It's like you're in the belly of the fire, as opposed to the flames? If that makes sense,

Todd McLaughlin:

it does. Yeah. That's a good one. Oh, man, well, Ruby, I really am excited. Now. Now that I've gotten a chance to have a conversation with you as well, I want to go back and watch and start practicing from your course, you did mention that for listeners, there's a course called short Qigong course and that there's a promo code that's free Qi but it's fr e qi. And that gives like a full discount. So anybody listening and or watching can can check you out and see what your teaching style is like and, and maybe start practicing some Tai Chi, wouldn't the world be in a beautiful place, if everybody was doing some Tai Chi,

Sifu Rubia:

it definitely would change the dynamic to the world, you have to you know, you have to realize that I'm just working stuff out to you know, like, everybody's working out their stuff. So when you're on these, these these types of journeys that connect you to your body to a certain awareness or anything that brings you back into the present, you're, you're you're trying to I've been trying to deal with, you know, the other stuff, you know, we all have demons that we're trying to, like, work out. And that's, this has been my therapy. It's been my, my therapy and my past my path to self realization all it all at once. So I've been lucky enough to to have that. But any type of art form where you feel settled in at peace, and that's your that's your place?

Todd McLaughlin:

Yes, yes. On that note, Rubia Do you have any closing thoughts? And or?

Sifu Rubia:

Um, that that was that was kind of it. Like,

Todd McLaughlin:

I think that was pretty good. I was hesitant to actually ask you that last question, because it felt like,

Sifu Rubia:

we're here to seek that. And I think Oprah said that before, like, our full time job is really to discover what we're here to be doing. And that I don't think enough people are doing whatever our artistic endeavor it makes them happy or makes them or soothe them. I think if people did that, like Tai Chi aside, I think if people just found that little space within them to do To feel healed, whole cared for nurtured, you know, for themselves, I think would be would be a better place. So, if I'm advocating anything, anything I'm advocating, you know, find your find your art of whatever that is.

Todd McLaughlin:

Well, thank you, Ruby, I really appreciative of you taking time out of your day for us, I really appreciate it.

Sifu Rubia:

This has been the best podcast recording ever. Honestly, your questions were brilliant, and they came from from a really curious place. I love people who are curious. So thank you, Rubia. No, thank you. This was really great. Well, I'm

Todd McLaughlin:

excited. I'm excited to publish it and get it out there. And I'm definitely gonna use your course. And I want to I want to practice with you. So thank you so much for for offering that to me. Thank you.

Sifu Rubia:

You're welcome. Enjoy. And then. Yeah, the course itself. I don't know how far along you went in, if you just did the beginning, but

Todd McLaughlin:

just the beginning really honest,

Sifu Rubia:

I didn't get sectioned in really small, digestible pieces. So they kind of all, they all build upon each other. So you're really, yeah, it's, it's well done. I'm not saying that to you for any other reason that it's easy, and it's accessible. And it's the right tools are there for people, and you have a good foundation to build upon something else. So if you go, that's another thing is that, coming back to what we were saying about digital versus in person, the tools that are there and that chorus are preparing you for when you do find a class out in the world. Separate from again, separate from me. So those tools and those fundamentals on how to you know, balance your weight, when you're doing the Tai Chi walking, how to move your waist, how to allow the arms to follow the waist, where your gave is all of those little fundamental pieces prepare you for when you want to walk into to an actual class when you have the opportunity to so

Todd McLaughlin:

that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. Well, if you ever ever in Florida, let me know. I absolutely will. All right. Which part of Florida in a town called Juno Beach, which is about 20 minutes north of West Palm Beach, which is about an hour and 15 north of Miami.

Sifu Rubia:

Okay, yeah. I went to your website and you you do a lot of classes and outdoor classes. And

Todd McLaughlin:

we do yeah, my wife and I, we've had our studio here for the last 16 years. And we used to teach at a studio in San Diego together. So we've been teaching together for a little over 20 now and we do do outdoor stuff. I teach paddleboard yoga, so I get people out on paddle boards, and we do some yoga there and we have beach yoga, and then we have a studio where, you know, we're we're teaching indoors all day too. But you know, I love the area around here in terms of the natural environment. So it was trying to get people outdoors and you know, doing healthy healthy activities in you know, community outdoors. So yeah, we do have a lot of fun.

Sifu Rubia:

So yeah, if I'm ever out there, for sure, I'll come in, take one of your classes for sure.

Todd McLaughlin:

That'd be amazing. Maybe you could teach us a Tai Chi class that would be incredible. To that to where you can absolutely do that too. Thank you for Thank you,

Sifu Rubia:

Todd. It was a it was a beautiful session.

Todd McLaughlin:

I really appreciate it. I'll be in touch with you. Alright, thanks. Native yoga Todd cast is produced by myself. The theme music is dreamed up by Bryce Allen. If you liked this show, let me know if there's room for improvement. I want to hear that too. We are curious to know what you think and what you want more of what I can improve. And if you have ideas for future guests or topics, please send us your thoughts to info at Native yoga center. You can find us at Native yoga center.com. And hey, if you did like this episode, share it with your friends, rate it and review and join us next time