Name: Cicily Thomas
Based in: Bengaluru, India
USP: Master Tai Chi teacher and Qi healer
Cicily Thomas with Grand Master Fu Sheng Yuan
Cicily was always extremely energetic and adventurous. When she was as young as 10 years old, she would venture out at 4 AM for a jog all by herself; to be outdoors and inhale the fresh air. She was very drawn to nature. Sports was also an integral part of her life. During her teens, she discovered her love for tennis and indulged in it with great zeal. All her pocket money was spent on training and equipment. Every morning and evening, she would walk seven kilometres between her home and the tennis training centre, and commute by bus. She also practiced yoga from a young age. Cicily’s hardwork paid off I college and earned her a scholarship for tennis, from the Sports Authority of India. She then worked part-time to pay for the equipment and training. At this point in her life, tennis occupied a huge portion of her time—when she was not wondering about the meaning and purpose of life, that is. A lesser known fact about Cicily is that while in college, she represented her University and the state of Tamil Nadu in tennis and won gold in the team events!
Tryst with Tai Chi
Cicily’s first tryst with Tai Chi, occurred entirely by chance in December 1991, on the Pyrenees Mountains in France, while she was on a skiing trip. She was spellbound when she saw a man practicing the ancient martial art, bare-bodied, in the numbing cold, while she was shivering beneath her six layers of clothing! His oblivion and contentment left Cicily in awe, inspiring her to start training in Tai Chi.
It wasn’t until 1996, that Cicily began Tai Chi training with her elder brother, who was trained by Grand Master Fu Sheng Yuan. She took to it eagerly and practiced every day. Being a kinaesthetic person, Cicily loved the slow, gentle, fluid and therapeutic movements of the Tai Chi forms, as they flowed one into the other. This was a much-needed development in her life, as it helped her deal with the trauma and grief of losing her dad when she was only 12 years of age. The training provided her with catharsis and built resilience. In her own words, Tai Chi enabled her to ‘journey into her inner world, to explore herself, her boundaries and to move into her embryo space, where she felt safe and at peace’. With the clamour in her mind settled, she now began finding new meaning and purpose to her existence. She had realised her true calling in life— gaining in-depth knowledge in Tai Chi and enabling others to deal with their pain and difficulty, through its slow and therapeutic movements. Since 1998, Cicily has been teaching Tai Chi with her brother at Alliance Française, Bengaluru and at the then-Spastics-Society, Bengaluru.
In 2008, Cicily decided to convert her passion for Tai Chi, into a full-time profession. She started ‘Force Vitale’ (now rechristened to ‘Vital Force Tai Chi Academy’), an organisation to spread the art form. She had stints in China, where she refined her Tai Chi skills from Master Fu Qing and Grand Master Fu Sheng Yuan. Later, she also learnt Qigong, a therapeutic form of exercise, from Dr. Yang Jwing Ming, who is based in the USA. Cicily says that all these experiences, along with more than two decades of spreading the practice of Tai Chi, have made her more people-centric. They have provided her with insights into herself and others, and have taught her to find creative, constructive ways to deal with the most volatile situations. “I have also derived inspiration from students who benefitted from Tai Chi, with their dedication and perseverance in practice,” says Cicily. Most of all, practicing Tai Chi has taught her that everything in life is relative: success and failure, good and bad, joy and sorrow, etc. This sure sounds like something we can all imbibe!
She defines knowledge as the wisdom that comes from reading, listening and exploring, among many other experiences. According to her, a huge part of knowledge is not only to acquire different experiences, but also the desire to share them. “Knowledge is sharing, spreading, open-mindedness, exchanging, acceptance,”, she beams.
Over the years, her organisation Vital Force Tai Chi Academy, has evolved into a specialised and professional Tai Chi Body which includes techniques such as Qi Healing, Trauma Healing, Qi Healing for pets, etc.
Cicily has incorporated the magic of Tai Chi and Qi Healing in helping people with chronic back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, Parkinson’s Disease, knee problems, heart-related problems, injuries, and even those in coma!
Cicily is of the firm view that mass tourism is destructive in many ways. In convergence with this philosophy, she has been organising ‘Sustainable, Alternative Tourism’ along with the French Association, Rencontres au Bout du Monde, since 2006. This form of tourism encompasses discovery tours which are aimed at meeting, exchanging and sharing knowledge, food, ideas, perceptions, joy, and just life in totality, on a larger scale.
Cicily organises workshops in Tai Chi and Qigong in India as well as in France. As part of the workshops, travellers also come from France to India in small groups, stay with the rural population and learn to live in harmony, while respecting the local ethnic environment. ‘Solidarity Projects’ are also done for local development. She also conducts exchanges and workshops with Qigong Masters from France, Hong Kong, Canada, USA and other parts of the world.
Teacher Training Programmes for those who have completed the long form Tai Chi are also something that she provides.
Cicily Thomas conducting a Tai Chi session
Many Feathers in Her Hat
Cicily has worked in animation, textile and commercial designing. She was also associated with the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce as a Commercial Attaché. In 1997, Cicily moved to Bengaluru, and has since worked as a French interpreter and a French teacher. She taught French at Alliance Française and at St. Joseph’s College. She has also learnt Psychology and Counselling.
Over time, as she trotted, trekked and camped around the globe, Cicily got hooked on to the adrenaline rush that only adventure sports can bring to you. She undertook a mountaineering course and has also conducted mountaineering expeditions with Swedish and French groups for over 15 years. Aside from these, some of the other adventures she has partaken in are kayaking, hang-gliding, wind surfing and rock climbing, to name a few.
When she is not dabbling in one of her many, high-energy occupations, she enjoys reading, cycling, swimming, walking her dog, cross-cultural initiatives, working with soil and anything that involves being amidst Mother Nature.
Cicily Thomas can be reached at:
Phone:91-94496 33267, 91-76762 69929