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Building a sense of self-confidence is key to healthy development in children. Martial arts can show them the way.

There is no more crucial time for healthy development in a person’s life than in childhood and adolescence. Traditional martial arts are a unique vehicle for building self-confidence and self-esteem, which are fundamental building blocks for success in many areas like academic achievement, social interactions, and even future careers.  At The Peaceful Dragon, we empower children to act on their own behalf to accomplish their goals.

Building self-confidence is a journey, not a destination

Confidence develops through building on small successes. There are no “shortcuts” in children’s martial arts, and no “beginner’s luck.” Everyone starts at the beginning, learns the basics, and each new skill builds on the ones learned before it. Your child may be discouraged at first, thinking that they’re “not good at it” if they can’t get something right, but encouragement from their coaches and peers — some who may be at higher skill levels — creates a nurturing and safe environment for them to keep trying. Unlike other sports, there is no one, big championship trophy at the end — martial arts are a continuing journey of realistic, measurable goals that are always within reach. With achieving a new sash (belt) rank comes a sense of accomplishment, and the next level is attainable from the confidence obtained and skills learned thus far. Even the highest belts in any martial art will tell you that students are continuously learning.

Martial arts for children cultivate responsibility and leadership

As your child progresses through our program, other students will begin to look to him or her for guidance. New communication skills are learned, new friendships are made, and as they develop into a role model for newer students, a sense of self-confidence and responsibility to others is instilled. Knowing that they got to their sash level through much preparation and hard work reinforces their learned self-discipline and gives them a good sense of self-esteem. In doing so, your child realizes that because he or she is in control of their own behavior, they can set a positive example for other students.

Self-confidence leads to success outside of the martial arts school

The skills learned at The Peaceful Dragon are not restrained to the walls of our building. The self-confidence your child develops have a positive effect on other areas of life as well. They become more driven to try new things, and less afraid to “strike out” on a new idea even when others around them are still pondering it. They gain the ability to stand up for themselves in a fair and consistent manner. They are more apt to say “no” to situations of negative peer pressure, and more inclined to say “yes” to positive opportunities.

Without a sense of self-confidence and what they are capable of, children grow up to be anxious and afraid to take risks, no matter how large or small. Lack of confidence leads to holding back. It leads to shyness, inaction, and not standing up for one’s self. Oftentimes, it results in missed chances and setting the bar too low, and a lifetime of “what ifs” lingering in their mind.

Martial arts, whether we’re talking kung fu, judo, jujitsu, tae kwan do, or karate for children, allows kids to believe in themselves, rise up, and reach their potential.

Are you ready to give your child a fun outlet where they can build their self-confidence more each day? Try it with our FREE introductory tour and two FREE classes. Call 704-504-8866 or click here to schedule today – we look forward to meeting you and your child(ren).

Why In-Person Charlotte Yoga Classes are Better than Online Yoga

Technology is a blessing and a curse. Where we used to have to send mail through the U.S. Postal Service and wait a few days for the recipient to get our note, we now have email. Where we used to have to drive to the bank every Friday and deposit our paychecks there is direct deposit and mobile deposits.

While many of our modern conveniences that make life more streamlined are thanks to technology, the same technology has limited in-person interactions, lowered our sense of community, and left some feeling lonely.

The Rise of Online Yoga Classes

We love yoga. And whatever it takes to learn and practice yoga makes us happy. For those who can’t make it to a studio or don’t have one close enough to home, online, in-app, and video yoga classes have changed everything. But those who can, should when it comes to attending in-person Charlotte yoga classes. And here are 8 reasons why:

8 Reasons to Attend In-Person Charlotte Yoga Classes

More than Yoga Poses: Yoga at The Peaceful Dragon is more than poses and breathing techniques. We offer instruction and lessons about the history, philosophy, and principles of yoga for a well-balanced mind and body.

Correct Posture: Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect-practice makes perfect. When it comes to yoga postures, accurate alignment is vital to getting the key benefits. Yoga practice without an in-person instructor increases your risk of injury.

Focus on Yoga: Beware of the at-home yoga distractions. When you are at the studio, your focus is entirely on your posture and breathing without kids, pets, and other items on your to-do list catching your attention.

Letting Go: While joining a yoga class, especially as a beginner, can be intimidating as you’re not likely to be the best at every pose from day one; it provides an amazing opportunity to let go of judgment and accept ourselves for exactly how we are at this very moment. Not comparing ourselves to others is a great start on the journey to a healthy mind.

Custom Goals: Yoga is a popular form of exercise for people who are recovering from an injury and cannot participate in some of their previous forms of exercise. Yoga is a great rehabilitative activity. If you are looking for specific benefits of yoga such as lowering chronic pain, improving flexibility, posture, or even more specific, an in-person yoga instructor is the best method for reaching your personal goals through yoga.

Community: Attending yoga classes in-person allows you to become part of a community of like-minded individuals. Individuals who have the same commitment to health and well-being as you. Individuals who could easily become life-long friends. Some have even thrown around the word “family.”

Healthy Living: Most yoga studios provide other types of lessons on living a healthy lifestyle. Dietary lessons and additional mental and physical support come with the yoga lifestyle. These lessons are lost when following video instruction that is solely focused on the physical postures.

Opportunity: In-person Charlotte yoga classes at The Peaceful Dragon will allow you to try meditation classes, Kung Fu classes, and tai chi classes. You might start with Yoga but find that participating in multiple disciplines or a different discipline is better for you!

If you’re not sure in-person yoga is right for you, no worries, we offer a no obligation, free introductory class and tour so you can try it before you buy it. Call today to learn more. 704-504-8866

3 Reasons to Start Meditating with a Charlotte Meditation Class

Have you noticed yourself feeling overly stressed lately?  Are you feeling frazzled and just can’t seem to get things straight?  Have you noticed yourself having an excess of time to yourself? Are you feeling lonely or isolated?  There is no need to be worried, everyone gets lonely and stressed sometimes.  It is important to make sure you do not stay stressed or down for too long, and one way to help yourself up is an outlet.

Lucky for you, we offer an approach that specializes in promoting peace and unity in a group setting: meditation.  Meditation is very beneficial to the health of the body and mind, and it is super easy to get into. Charlotte Meditation Class is a great way to begin your inward journey, and here are some great reasons why you should start meditation class without delay.

Why You Should Join a Charlotte Meditation Class

  1. We Have Strength in Numbers: Don’t Go It Alone – We as humans are social creatures, and it is important to have people with like interests in whom we can confide and converse freely. Meditation is a way to connect with those around you on a social level as well as a much deeper level.  Don’t let the chaos of everyday life overwhelm you.  Instead, search for inner peace with others who are searching for it just as you are, and use these connections to grow as a group.
  2. Getting Into the Habit – Meditating once is a great start, but it is truly effective if you can get into a regular schedule of meditation. Meditating in a group setting can help you keep a schedule as the group holds each other accountable.
  3. Healthy Body, Healthy Mind – Meditation is a method of calming oneself and finding peace. However, that is not all meditation can do for you.  On top of stress relief, meditation can help you stay healthy and experience faster healing.  Meditation is a simple path to a whole body and a clear mind.

As you can see there are many benefits to meditation.  For in-person meditation guidance, we encourage you to give the Peaceful Dragon a try. We offer a FREE introductory tour, orientation, and class so you can try before you buy! Call today or sign up here. 704-504-8866

Does Yoga Make You Taller?

There are a great deal of claims about what practicing Yoga can do for you. So very many are true, but a few are not completely accurate. We sometimes field questions from our members in regards to rumors they have heard that seemed too good to be true.

We have been asked a few times “Can Yoga Make Me Taller?”

Short Answer: No.

Yoga cannot perform the miraculous act of extending the length of your skeleton.

Long Answer:

The reason this misconception is out there is because Yoga can indeed change your perceived height.

How Does Yoga Make You Look Taller?

Several benefits of regular yoga practice can allow you to regain your actual height.

  1. Yoga strengthens your back and spine, which does improve your posture. Improved posture can allow you to appear significantly taller than when you are slouched or otherwise.
  2. Yoga practice also improves your body awareness. This awareness adds to your standing straighter and taller too.
  3. Strengthening and lengthening muscles through yoga classes can add to the appearance that you are taller as well. As your body becomes leaner, your height naturally becomes more evident.
  4. Stretching can reverse compression of gravity making you slightly taller until compression returns.

Our true belief:

Short or tall, wide or thin, all bodies are beautiful so focus on being strong and healthy from within.

If you want to stand up straighter, have better posture, and look taller – consider giving Yoga a try. We offer a free introductory tour and class so you can find out if yoga at the Peaceful Dragon is right for you. Call or click to get started today! 704-504-8866

What Are the Best Meditation Apps?

It is not going to be a surprise to most of you when we say we don’t have a very tight grip on the latest trends in phone app usage. We purposefully try to spend less time in front of screens and more time being present in our world.

That being said, we are not unaware or unappreciative of the tools and convenience provided by many technological advances in smartphones today. One of those very cool things are Meditation apps. Phone apps that help you meditate! With a large portion of the population looking for convenient ways to better manage stress, we understand why these apps are gaining popularity. And hey, anything that encourages meditation practice is alright with us.

Being as we are well practiced in meditation, we will not be the ones judging the quality of the best meditation apps. Since they are built to help teach meditation as well as guide meditation, it is important that we use good hard data to give you a head start on finding a meditation app you like!

If you haven’t tried a meditation app yet, but are interested, these are the top three you should try first. (Based on top grossing meditation app downloads so far this year.)

  • Calm

  • Headspace

  • 10% Happier

Simply go to your App Store or Google Play store and download the app to give it a try. Let us know which one you land on and what you think of the ones you didn’t like.

For in-person meditation guidance, we encourage you to give the Peaceful Dragon a try. We offer a FREE introductory tour, orientation, and class so you can try before you buy! Call today or sign up here. 704-504-8866

The Benefits of Traditional Martial Arts for Autism Spectrum Disorder

For children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there is a large variety in severity and types of symptoms. Most people on the spectrum face some challenges with social interactions and communications. Sometimes repetitive movements, actions or words or phrases can be observed. The traditional method of physical therapy and occupational therapy are useful in managing these challenges, but additional physical activities can often be helpful. For instance, you’ve likely heard about horseback riding becoming significant in the therapeutic field, but there are more options. Traditional martial arts have proven to fit the mold.

A study from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and McMaster University has found a group of activities that have shown to reduce stereotypic behaviors, improve emotional and social function, and improve cognition and attention. Amongst these activities are martial arts, yoga, dance, swimming, jogging, and horseback riding. In fact, martial arts and horseback riding activities were highlighted as producing the greatest results.

Why “Traditional” Martial Arts?

When you choose a Kung Fu studio or a Martial Arts studio that focuses on traditional methods, you’ll enjoy a practice that emphasizes overall character development and physical skill development. The patterned movements require a mind and body focus. This combination is extremely valuable in creating a strong mind-body connection for physical and mental training.

An additional benefit of adding martial arts into your ASD regimen is that it is fun. Many occupational therapy and physical therapy routines are boring and difficult to stick to. While joining a team or competitive sport can be problematic or impossible depending on the person.

When practicing traditional martial arts, children and adults alike get to focus on themselves. They focus on their own movements, their own progress, and their own thought patterns. As they take visual and verbal cues to reproduce the movements as shown by their instructor they are required to focus and react, which is all within their control to accomplish. With each practice that repeats the movements from the last, they can progress at their own pace and enjoy accomplishments along the way.

If you’re looking for a new activity for yourself or someone else with autism spectrum disorder, we hope you’ll give traditional martial arts a try. We offer a large variety of options from our Children’s Martial Arts program, Adult Kung Fu, and even Yoga. Give us a call today to claim your free introductory tour, orientation, and class. 704.504.8866

Exercise Beats Drugs or Surgery for Most Back Pain

As recently reported by NBC News, lower back pain is the leading cause of disability around the world, and yet it almost always gets the wrong treatments.

 

Doctors typically prescribe drugs (opioids) or surgery, but studies show that drugs and surgery not only fail to work for back pain in most cases, but they create different problems. We’re all aware of the opioid epidemic with addictions, suicides and other side effects, and surgery risks complications and is extremely expensive.

What does work for back pain?

 

It turns out one of the very best cures is exercise.

Physical therapy, counseling, massage and even meditation are shown to be helpful, but regular exercise is the single best long-term cure for back pain, as well as many other kinds of pain.

Among the best kinds of exercise for back pain are yoga, tai chi, and gentle qigong. Yoga and tai chi for back pain are particularly useful because you can practice to the degree that makes sense for you – gently or vigorously – and adjust your intensity as your conditions improve. Both tai chi and yoga help you develop a strong core, and it’s often the strength of your core muscles that impact the support of your spine and back muscles to reduce pain. Also, exercise stimulates energy and blood flow, helping to bring nutrients to the muscles and tissue in the back that need healing and are causing your pain.

Research also shows that overweight people suffer more back pain, so exercise can be doubly effective because as it strengthens your core and stimulates blood flow, it can also help you shed the extra pounds that put a strain on your spine and back muscles.

So if you’re suffering back pain or other kinds of chronic pain, consider taking up a regular practice of tai chi, yoga or qigong. Even if you’ve disliked exercise in the past because of boredom or feeling out of place, you may find like many people that an authentic and traditional tai chi and yoga program is quite different: These arts engage the mind as much as the body and can keep practitioners intrigued for a lifetime of enjoyment.

If you’re tired of living – or barely living – with back pain, then “get moving” and try the wonderful arts of tai chi, yoga or qigong.

Why Martial Arts Tournaments and Competitions May Be Right for You!

At The Peaceful Dragon, we encourage all of our martial arts students to periodically enter and compete in competitions. Whether they are a beginner, intermediate or advanced, and at any age, experiencing martial arts talent from other schools while sharing your progress with a large group of like-minded peers is a singular experience.

Queen Charlotte’s Cup 2018

As we return to the normal schedule after spending Saturday at the Queen Charlotte’s Cup, hosted by Carolina’s Association of Chinese Martial Arts, it is a great time to reflect on the experience. Each time we go to any event, we get to witness the awe in the eyes of the first-timers, the pride in the eyes of those who reach their goals, and the friendships that are created or renewed among peers.

This year’s Queen Charlotte’s Cup has moved around due to some logistical issues and we were stuffed into a smaller area than we would have liked. The Bain Elementary school gym and cafeteria combination space provided a very nice venue in the heart of Mint Hill, but once everyone arrived, it was just a bit crowded. Did that stop us? Not one bit. We opened the doors to let some cool air in and made it work!

Kindness & Sportsmanship Abound

A particularly enjoyable moment was after a beginner group performed their hand forms. I witnessed the child who won 1st place introduce himself to his 2nd place competition. The children congratulated each other, discussed how long they’ve been practicing Kung Fu, and proceeded to go outside into the courtyard together to share tricks and tips on their forms. This particular kindness, I am pleased to say is not an uncommon occurrence among Kung Fu tournaments and just another reason we encourage all our Martial Arts students to give it a try.

In fact, many competitors from various Kwoons and Dojos could be found helping each other warm-up before the tournament began. And even in the fiercest sparring matches, opponents helped each other up off the mats.

Martial Arts Tournaments are Fun

Did I mention how fun it is? Tournaments are just plain fun. Where else can you go to practice what you love, compete in an environment of great mutual respect, and watch others share their skills?

If you’re curious about Martial Arts and preparing to enjoy a tournament in the future, we recommend you start with our free no obligation tour and introductory class. Call today to schedule 704-504-8866 or sign up here.

Can Martial Arts Help with Anger Management and Aggression Issues?

It is more common than you might think for new martial arts students to ask whether or not practicing Kung Fu and Martial Arts can help with anger management issues. It might seem counterintuitive that “learning to fight” could actually simmer one’s temper and lower their tendency to engage in physical altercations, but it is true.

How Does Martial Arts Help with Anger Management?

Anger is a healthy and normal human emotion. The problem occurs when a person has difficulty controlling that anger. It can lead to destruction, issues with personal and professional relationships, and a deterioration in your quality of life. Learning how to control anger before it turns into outward rage, is vital to living a productive and peaceful life.

 

There are three fundamental ways in which martial arts practice can help those struggling with anger management.

Focus

Breathing and extreme focus are required for every martial arts movement. After all, how does a small child break a board with their bare hands without channeling all their focus and energy into the singular movement that is required to break that board? This newly gained ability to focus one’s energy contributes to the skills required to contain natural stress responses and channel them elsewhere. If in the past stress caused you to become angry, you may soon find yourself able to focus your energy on resolving that stressor.

Discipline

Discipline comes from more than one place when practicing martial arts. The discipline required to learn stances and focus energy is one, but once you’ve progressed there is a broader discipline gained. When you’ve learned the power your focus can harness, you understand very quickly that self-discipline is essential. It is a core principle of martial arts training that the physical knowledge and practice is meant for self-defense only and that controlling yourself is vital to the safety of you and others. Growing strength in one’s ability to control oneself is huge in managing anger and your response to feeling angry.

Mind Over Emotions

While discipline and self-control improve your ability to manage your response to common emotions, martial arts can help you manage those emotions too. For instance, when you exert your emotions and funnel them into healthy activities, you begin to dissolve those emotions. Activities such as perfecting your martial arts stances or exerting your negative energy into a properly formed kick or punch on the training bags can melt away those emotions before you have a chance to lose control. In addition, with focus on the mind and body, martial arts can improve your ability to find the inner peace and patience to be triggered into anger less frequently.

If anger is disrupting your life, whether it is simply making you miserable or you’re beginning to lash out towards the people in your life, we recommend you give martial arts a try. At The Peaceful Dragon, we offer a broad variety of practices to fit your individual needs including Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Yoga, and Meditation. We even have a free no obligation tour and introductory class to get you started. Call today to schedule or sign up here704-504-8866

Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

In a word, yes, yoga can help you lose weight. But, not in the traditional way, you may be accustomed to. Weight loss, while difficult for many to achieve, is a simple math formula of taking in fewer calories than you spend. When your body uses energy beyond its caloric intake, weight loss occurs. To accomplish this, most people lower food intake and increase energy expenditure simultaneously – through diet and exercise.

Yoga can help you lose weight, but the method will feel different than the challenge typically felt when denying yourself food while forcing yourself to do more exercise or be more active. Here is how losing weight through yoga may look and feel:

Yoga Burns Calories

Yoga (usually) burns fewer calories than popular forms of cardiovascular exercise such as running, walking, biking, etc. But yoga in all forms does burn calories. You get 60 to 90 minutes of continual activity, so adding it several times a week to your daily energy expenditure is absolutely beneficial to weight loss goals. More vigorous forms of Yoga such as Power Yoga or Ashtanga Vinyasa also offer cardiovascular benefits in addition to the other benefits of Yoga.

Yoga Builds Muscle

Yoga helps you lose weight by building muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn with your daily activities. While the variation is a small portion of the weight loss puzzle, it can make a difference. Any activity you undertake to grow muscle is an exercise that is simultaneously burning more calories than being sedentary and building muscle to help you burn more calories. Each Asana (posture) you work towards perfecting in Yoga is building muscle. Note: Since muscle is more dense than fat, though your fitness and shape will steadily improve your weight might not go down noticeably at first as you replace fat with muscle.

Yoga Reduces Stress

You may be curious about how reducing stress can help you lose weight. And we would answer, “how can it not?” It is a common human experience to find yourself eating more or choosing food unwisely when feeling stressed. Stress can also zap your energy levels, leaving you riding the couch more than you might normally. Regular Yoga practice helps you manage that stress so it affects your life less, leaving you with more energy and stress-eating less often.

Yoga Increases Mindfulness, Improving Health and Wellness

The key element of Yoga that helps you lose weight is the increased mind-body connection. When you practice Yoga regularly a few things often occur: you may avoid foods that make you feel sluggish, replacing them with healthier options; you may become fully present in your practice of Yoga allowing you to get more out of each movement; and you will likely begin the full practice of the authentic Yoga tradition which includes diet, mental attitude, lifestyle choices, and philosophy. In fact, practicing Yoga in the morning encourages healthfulness all day. These key benefits are the reason Yoga is such a popular form of exercise. When the mind and body are connected a balance can occur and health can be maintained.

Yoga is Enjoyable

No one is going to lose weight doing an exercise they feel they can’t do, can’t tolerate, or don’t enjoy. Yoga is often successful for the simple reason that it is enjoyable and anyone can do it, which promotes a stick-to-it-iveness that is required for long-lasting weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.

Are you ready to better manage your stress, increase your mind-body connection, and finally lose that weight for good? There is no better place to try Yoga in Charlotte than the Peaceful Dragon. We offer a free no obligation tour and introductory class. Call today to schedule or sign up here!  704-504-8866