The movements in Tai Chi are often soft and fluid and have poetic and mystical names like “ride the Tai Chi horse”, “fair lady works at shuttles” and “Shoot the bow”, yet when the movements are viewed from western exercise sciences, they become easier to understand and appreciate.
Tai Chi movements are initially done slow to allow the practitioner to become more aware of the connectedness of their body like the gears of a clock, to allow the musculature to relax and to be aware of excess tension that restrains movement, to lengthen and strengthen the tendon and ligaments and to connect it all with the breath.
All movements in Tai Chi can be reduced to inward circles, outward circles and straight lines but the interplay of half circles, alternating circles, large and small movements from the wrists to the ankles and straight lines that can project in a myriad of ways and angles make the art beautiful and endless.
The names of the movements help the practitioner to feel the concepts of the postures and to engage the right artistic side of the brain but looking at the patterns can help integrate the movements with the left brain. Also alternating movements from side to side also help to cultivate a strong interconnected neural net. For instance, medium alternating outward circles are the pattern for “wave hands like clouds” but if you change it up and do simultaneous large outward circles then it becomes the beginning of “carry the tiger up the mountain”. One exercise might have a very light floating feel to it while the other a heavy strong and expansive feeling.
And that brings up another point; Tai Chi is also fast and slow, hard and soft, light and heavy. Tai Chi movements are based on the principle of yin and yang, the theory of opposites in which one cannot exist without the other and together, in balance, they have a natural harmony.
True Tai Chi is an exercise in self discovery where the player/student learns about the vast laboratory of energy and space within them while increasing their range of motion, cultivating their balance, increasing their vitality and health, calming their mind and learning to flow and move in harmony with their environment and world.
Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have about tai chi or about our on line training program! I encourage you to download one of our great videos and start enjoying the great benefits of this wonderful art!