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I am a YMAA student from the Boston area and I spent a week at the YMAA Retreat Center. Affectionately known as "The Mountain" by my instructor and fellow students, we have followed the progress of the Center with great interest. Making time to travel to California and see it for myself was a year-long plan.
Outwardly, as a result of my trip, I decided to buy a rice cooker (and have been trying to cook larger meals), to start drinking soy milk, and to meditate each day when I get up in the morning. I was given many corrections on my Gongfu and Taiji forms, and I now practice them regularly. Inwardly, I am still mulling over all that I saw and experienced. I was ready for physical training and chores; I knew life at the Center would be energetic and everyday would be a full day. I was taken aback by how I was moved in my thinking. I believe this is the result of the location of the Center, which is set in a stunning landscape that made me feel like I was in a spiritual place. I felt like I had the opportunity to be temporarily shed of all my daily tasks and responsibilities to indulge in inner reflection.
While I did not train everything in sync with the disciples, I did train alongside them at my own pace. Making my hobby, hours and hours of training, into my job for a week was such a luxury. And in the evenings, there was time to relax, to enjoy delicious meals made from homegrown organic vegetables and livestock, and to take some breathtaking walks to unwind. I can't recommend a visit more highly. It's truly a unique place. Dr. Yang and the disciples will welcome you warmly. It's an experience which had a huge influence on my training and thinking. Consider making the journey yourself, see what you will discover!
Inga C. Larson
May 2, 2011
I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed the week's seminar on Taiji Qigong and White Crane Qigong. Dr. Yang's knowledge is enormous, his enthusiasm is infectious, and his presentation is solid. In a week of meditating for 45 minutes each day, I got so much deeper than I have on my own. The two three-hour sessions per day (half theory and half practice) provided a lot of time to practice and to better understand the theories behind the practice. Working on breathing and the theory enabled me to better grasp the inner feeling that leads to much greater depth in the practice. The mid-day rest period gave me time to rest, practice with others, or review the many DVDs or books that were there. My Qigong students back at home are excited about what I've brought back to share with them.
The location of the Retreat Center is just south of the Redwoods State Park, on top of a low mountain, a little bit in from the coast. All you see there are trees on another mountain. It's quiet, the air is incredibly clean, and the well water is very pure. Most of the electricity comes from solar panels. The garden produces a lot of vegetables and by now, the chickens are laying. The resident students do an excellent job of preparing delicious, generous meals and keeping the place clean. The place itself and how it is run contribute to the effectiveness of the whole experience, giving all students a chance to deeply focus on the studies.
It was a very pleasure to stay at the Retreat Center. After coming back from the seminar, I feel more centered, happier, healthier, and lighter. The food cooked by the disciples was excellent. Thanks to all. It was very memorable time. I really respect your teaching and humble mind. You are the real true master. I want to come back next year. Once again, Thank you so much.
I'm glad I made the decision to come for the Push Hands workshop. It was intense, but the center, the company, the food (please thank Javier and Christian for doing such a great job with the meals) all added to the blend and evened things out. I learned a lot. I lost weight (happily), changed my eating and sleeping routine for the better, and came home with a kinder and more hopeful outlook on how we can make a difference in our day-to-day living. I hope to come again and participate in a Qigong week or even the Tai Chi ball and Tai Chi Symbol practice that was offered this year. Thank you for your kindness and patience. Good luck with your continuing endeavors.
Jeff and I were at your retreat the first 3 weeks this summer. We had an amazing time. THANK YOU so much for an incredible life-changing experience. I am looking forward to next summer.
I have been in Boston quite a few times, and I enjoyed the training there. However, I found that we get much deeper learning in California. I have spent four weeks in total at the Retreat Center. For each seminar, I spent a whole week with Dr. Yang and only twenty other students. I can tell you that one week of intense training goes by really fast! Apart from the training, I had the chance to meet amazing people. At one point, there were people coming from at least ten different countries. So you have all these people with unique cultural backgrounds who get together because they share the same passion for martial arts. It was an amazing experience and I will certainly come back next summer!
Prior to starting Qigong and Tai Chi, I was suffering from a bike accident injury, coupled with injuries from many years of computer work. Qigong and Tai Chi, as directed by Dr. Yang, put me in a very FORTUNATE position. Today, at 45 years old I am healthier than ever, healthier than most young people are. My reflexes are the best they have ever been. I wish I could go back into kayaking to enjoy this newfound health :). I have spent a long time learning from various books and DVDs about Tai Chi and Qigong. The vast majority of what I tried was superficial and did not have a comprehensive overall solution. Ever since I shifted to using the YMAA repository of DVDs, I sit at my desk doing 8-hours of computer work a day, smiling and breathing like a monk. A Korean colleague said to me, "You have brought the mountain to the office." I had been suffering from some over-stretching injuries from Yoga, but the Tai Chi and Qigong took care of that, too. I am able to sit well in Burmese sitting for the first time.
I wish that YMAA would compile a DVD to train young kids. A DVD can present the old traditions in a way that would appeal to kids and could serve as a tool in the hands of interested parents that believe. It is very difficult to fix it; we have to strive to teach them right from the very beginning. Our kids don't know how to move their bodies and feel that they are living correctly in the current circumstances. I was particularly impressed with Dr. Yang's willingness to provide an honest, truly working, down-to-earth non-Hollywood-ish wide range of DVDs. Your DVDs provide good media for people of today who wish to engage in the proven old tradition of Chinese arts. If I could have gone back in time, I would have liked to meet you when I was 18 months old.Avi Benartzi
I have been fortunate to take a Taiji seminar with Dr. Yang at the YMAA Retreat Center in California. I have been practicing Taiji for many years, yet in just a few days, my understanding of Taiji movements and applications deepened significantly! Dr. Yang is unique in his ability to research, interpret, and apply ancient Chinese sources of Daoist and Buddhist self-cultivation. What makes it special is Dr. Yang includes the original Chinese documents. This makes it possible for other scholars to see how Dr. Yang translates and interprets the documents. Dr. Yang's research and lectures are brilliant as they combine traditional knowledge with modern, Western, scientific understanding and application. What deepened the experience for me was the ability to study with Dr. Yang at the California Retreat Center. The continuous access to Dr. Yang, his students, and other participants allowed a deep, uninterrupted engagement with study. The sense of hospitality, camaraderie, and generosity has been extraordinary. I hope Dr. Yang will be able to maintain and continue the development of the Center. It is a noble and important initiative that deserves public and private support.
Hirsh Diamant, Ph.D.
The Evergreen State College
Dr. Yang, thank you for such a wonderful time at the Retreat Center the past two weeks. The seminars have gone a long way to deepen my Qigong practice and have reinforced for me the value of well-run retreat seminars. The vegetable garden is such an inspiration and complements the great cooking. The practice spaces were ample and made a great place for learning. The meditations, the hike to the creek, the moon and stars on a clear dark sky, the owls, the praying mantis, the friendliest cat in the world, and how can I ever forget -- the silence only found in places so remote. Time spent in the company of you, the disciples, staff, and attendees from all over the world was a genuinely special experience. With so many memorable facets to the Retreat Center, I hope to return again soon.
The week-long Qigong program not only allows you to learn from a world-recognized Qigong master, but also provides hours of supervised practice. The beautiful serene setting of the YMAA CA Retreat Center promotes Qi cultivation and circulation. I strongly recommend this seminar to anyone looking to further their Qigong experience.
Centre Mieux Vivre
Quebec City, Canada
Having studied martial arts for a few years, I have had opportunities to attend seminars in the past, most of which have been weekend seminars. While I did not know what to expect from the week-long Taiji Form and Applications seminar, I had attended the winter series in Boston and was impressed with the knowledge, expertise and hospitality demonstrated by Dr. Yang, his students and staff. My experience at YMAA CA did not disappoint. Every effort was made to make me feel a part of the YMAA family during my time spent at the Retreat Center. Dr. Yang and his disciples made me feel comfortable and fed me well. This care proved to be very important due to the demanding training program, which not only focused on the Taiji form, but also on applications and the philosophy underpinning Taiji. Instruction and discussion in this last element, Taiji philosophy, really opened doors for a better understanding of this powerful, yet elegant, martial art. Both during the training sessions and outside of the training sessions, Dr. Yang and his disciples embodied patience, discipline and respectfulness, which are key elements of Taoist philosophy, the foundation of Taiji. As I leave the Retreat Center, I hope to carry what I learned with me as I continue down my path to becoming a better martial artist. I hope to return to the Retreat Center next summer and intend to attend the winter seminar series in Boston in 2010. I cannot wait for my next opportunity to study with Dr. Yang and his highly skilled and compassionate students. Thanks for such a great opportunity, Dr. Yang.
Matthew L. Partridge
I'd like to thank you and all your disciples for such a great time we had during this summer seminar. It felt like home. I learned so much and had the opportunity to practice around the clock with people from all around the world, who were so interested in learning and sharing experiences. I'm looking forward to meeting you guys again next year.
Thank you Grandmaster Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming. Qigong has helped me a lot in understanding my own mind, body, and soul. It has helped me become more aware of who we are and what we can do. I learned the keys to empower myself in the midst of change, chaos, and complexity by understanding and applying Qigong and Taiji principles to my life. I discovered the deepest meaning inherent in my daily experiences and see my life as a blueprint for growth and personal evolution. Sometimes the monkey is still busy asking for attention. Thanks to you, I found enough bananas to keep the monkey quiet.
Dr. Yang, your Qigong Theory Retreat has greatly broadened my understanding of Qi. You have given me a powerful tool to improve and maintain my health, mind, and emotions. The beauty, serenity, and energy at the Center were a welcome additional benefit. Thank you.
La Mesa, CA
When I finally arrived at the Center, I remember being greeted warmly by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming with a handshake and a smile. I instantly felt welcome. Dr. Yang is easily one of the most polite and courteous people I've ever met, and I find myself almost involuntarily subsiding or bowing slightly if we pass each other due to a strong compulsion of etiquette. His classes and lectures are as rich with moral lesson and virtue as the air on the mountain is with oxygen and relief from our everyday "Matrix" lifestyle. There grows through the student body a strong sense of community, if not friendships, or even mild kinship. At times we all stare in wonder at a new concept presented. Other times we're laughing at an anecdote or true life story related to Dr. Yang. His disciples are already martially adept and morally strong, mentally awake and kind-natured. This, I'm sure, is neither accident nor coincidence. The grounds and facilities are something else to calm the soul and miss greatly when you leave. The thick Redwood and Madrone forest is as nourishing as it is beautiful. I have stayed in the main house as well as camped in the forest on-site and found both quite comfortable and well-maintained. The rule of "no shoes inside" is sanitary and helps everyone feel at home. The quality of the educational aspects at the Center is five-star, and I have not seen its equal in my 12 years of formal martial arts training and 5 years of Qigong/meditation practice. I would be proud to recommend the YMAA California Retreat Center to any serious seeker of the great benefits of training and practice. I hope it flourishes over the coming months and years, and that more people are inspired by it as I have been. Dr. Yang has made tremendous efforts and sacrifice to make this place possible, let alone available. It is clear to me that he is as accomplished as he is not only due to almost superhuman discipline, but also a very powerful resistance to adversity. Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, his disciples, and the Retreat Center are great gifts and are here to stay.
My week at the Center with Dr. Yang, I can honestly say, was one of the most beneficial weeks of my life. Thank you so much.
Los Angeles, CA
I spent two weeks taking two of the Qigong seminars at the Retreat Center in the summer of 2009. The Center is a very pleasant and relaxing place to stay. The daily training schedule strikes the right balance between work and relaxation, with an early start but a very relaxing break for lunch and rest. The week-long format for the seminars gives the student the opportunity for repeated practice and internalization of the skills he or she is learning. Dr. Yang, as always, was a very informative and entertaining teacher. I met some wonderful people during the two weeks, some of whom will probably become life-long friends. The food was good too, though with all the exercise and practice, I did lose a few pounds.
Knowledge, wonderful energy, health, and lasting friendships ... these are priceless things. Making a decision to invest in a Qigong seminar can be difficult, especially during an unsure economy. However, this is probably the best investment one can make in her own mental, physical and emotional life, which of course makes the rest of your life that much richer. My name is Rev. Barbara A. Heller, and I found the seminars quite by accident online last summer, just the day before early registration was over ... funny how that works.
Just traveling alone to Eureka from my home in Colorado was a huge step for me, after years of debilitating back and chest pain after a car and subsequent pedestrian accident had damaged my thoracic spine. Participating in two weeks of a seminar far from home comforts and soft comfy pillows ... I must have been mad! However, after practicing Ba Duan Jin (Eight Pieces of Brocade) for about a year, I was regaining more health more rapidly than I could with my own pool regimen. At last, after a long search, I had found a genuine holistic approach to restoring myself. So, when I saw that the seminars were being offered with the internationally renowned Master Yang, I felt I needed to go. However, I took the bold step of calling first to see what I was getting into. Would a 48 year old mom fit in with what I envisioned to be young fit martial artists? It was such a surprise when Dr. Yang picked up the phone and assured me that I would be surprised at who would come. I was pleasantly surprised ... oh, to be sure, there were some fit young martial artists, and some young women, and some, uh, mature ladies, like myself, and everything in between. But, and here is the heart of the matter, we were all there for one thing really. To understand this energy called Qi.
After I spoke to Dr. Yang, I took the plunge and registered with the gracious Mei-Ling, who gave me an insider's tip that I would probably be more comfortable, in my situation, with a room in the house as opposed to a cabin room or camping (that courtesy was part of the graciousness of being in Dr. Yang's "house"). Two months later, I was being driven up the beautiful mountainside of the Center by an Angel (no really, the driver's name was Angel) to begin my Qigong studies in earnest. Yes, the Retreat Center is gorgeous, the rooms very nice, the food is healthy and tasty, the rhythm of the day is relaxing, the ten year students are just amazing young men, and Dr. Yang is a wonderful and delightful teacher. What may not be said, but is very important, is that very strong friendships are bonded here which are rooted in a very deep understanding. They flow as naturally and easily as the energy on this magical mountaintop where Dr. Yang chose to build the Center. I can honestly say that I regularly correspond with several of the classmates from this seminar and have even met up with a couple of them at another YMAA weekend seminar, even though we hail from all over the country. When we are together, be it over the Internet, or face-to-face, it is a wonderful feeling. There is something very, very special about the California Qigong Seminars and the people who are drawn to them -- as special as the man who began it all.
Read more in Barbara's article entitled "The Way of Qigong", published in The Healing Path magazine.
Rev. Barbara Heller
B.A., M.Msc., IARP
Inner Calm Consultant
The Spiral Labyrinth
Crystal Vibration Therapy