Tai Chi Challenge #3 - Principles and walking

This week’s challenge is going to take a slightly different form, this week we’re going to take a walk. If you’re staying in, and don’t have an outdoor space, that’s ok, we can do this indoors too. Before we get into the details, I have a question for you, Why do we practice Tai Chi? The answers are as many and varied as the stars in the sky, all equally valid. But while they may vary, there are underlying commonalities and they are the, ‘why’, of our practice. The way we practice, the shapes and movement, what others might see, they are the ‘what’. In fact, as we move forward in our practice, we find that all the different ways of practicing are bringing us to the same place, the same why. So why do we practice? To make a change. Not just a change for an hour or so, once a week when we attend a class, (physically or remotely). Not a change when we do our practice at home. We want to make a change that’s permanent and all encompassing. What would be the point of learning how to be relaxed in the body and clam in the mind if I can only achieve that state during active practice? What we want to achieve is a level of integration of a principle where it becomes part of our everyday selves. As Master Ding says, ‘through practicing Tai Chi I don’t do something new, I become something new’ So, this week, we’re going out for a walk, but not any normal walk, we’re going to take one principle and layer it into our everyday walking. Don’t worry, you won’t look goofy, chances are no one will even notice. One of our principles is, ‘level movement’. In form practice this means no bobbing up and down. In chi kung practice this means keeping the mind and body still, allowing settling. In partner work we see if we can maintain our composure in the face of stimulus from without. When we walk this week, we’re going to walk in a different way, we’re not going to just walk, we’re going to flow, smoothly and levelly. Be mindful of the following: Imagine a single hair lifting from the crown to the sky, you’re literally being suspended from above. Keep the body relaxed with the elbows and the shoulders weighting down. Don’t pull, just release. Don’t breathe to the chest, rather the center of the body. Imagine the abdomen expanding like a balloon as you breathe in and the body releasing and settling as you breathe out. Let the tailbone sink towards the ground, again, not by pulling, but by releasing. Finally, be aware of the transfer of the weight from one foot to the next. There should be no jarring as the heel of the front foot steps down, just a smooth rolling action. Try it out, go for a walk, smoothly, and levelly… Until next week, Enjoy

Ross Cousens

# Tai Chi # Tai Chi principles # Tai Chi walking

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