The problem with tai chi, of course, is that you’re moving, which makes it very difficult to feel those physical alignments and sensations. Those feelings of internal connection and relaxation, of simultaneous solidity yet openness within the body, of calmness, and of ‘Peng’, are hard to find whilst shifting the weight from one foot to another, extending and rotating arms or legs, being conscious of posture, turning the body, and leading the whole event with your intention.
When your system starts to fight itself. This is partly why there’s so much emphasis on relaxation in tai chi. If you’re tense you cannot connect your body together efficiently, nor can you sink your qi; in effect your body is an out of control solar system, an analogue clock with a loose cog, a society undergoing a revolution, or a city’s plumbing system with worn out joints in the pipes. In effect you start fighting yourself, as though you’re trying to chew your own teeth.
Feeling. Everything has to work together, which is why it’s necessary to feel what’s going on in your body. You don’t have to understand the anatomy and physiology, although that also can help to a certain extent, but feeling what is going on is essential. You therefore need to be aware of how you’re holding your spine, the position and angle of your pelvis, how your feet are planted, what you’re doing with your neck, your shoulders, knees … and so on. Nothing is left out of the mix.
You’ve got time to feel. The advantage of Standing Qigong is that it’s static. You’ve got time to think and feel (although, when they start, most people don’t like this feeling!). The problem with trying to apply this concept to tai chi is that tai chi constantly moves, and you can’t focus on the internal balance of the ever-changing posture shifts so easily. On the positive side though, for many people the constant movement is preferable because they don’t have to focus on the discomfort of their body, as the body is never in one position long enough to experience it!
So what do you do in tai chi?
To do this though, you have to know the tai chi moves very well, in fact they have to be almost second nature, which is why you practise over and over and over and …