From head to foot. When practicing taiji and qigong, we are often conscious of the forwards/backwards and the left/right of the movements, but it’s easy to forget the crown to feet expansion/contraction. When doing Tai Chi & Qigong, it’s important to keep that structural line intact.
Intact? By this I mean that any forces that the spine is dealing with are evenly spread over its length; i.e. no part of the spine is taking more force than any other part. (I do not mean that the spine has to be vertical). It’s important to keep the spine intact/connected at all times; but we usually don’t.
Crown of head (not to be confused with the hair whorl)
Perineum (muscle between genitals & anus)
Point directly on the line between your 2 feet (variable if moving your weight back/forward between the feet)
Feeling it. The majority of tai chi forms begin with the hands lifting and lowering. When lifting a heavy object, your feet naturally press downwards as you raise your arms (gravity/weight of object), and as you lift the object, your intention is to rise, so you think your head upwards. In other words, you automatically lengthen your back (unless you’re lifting the ‘wrong’ way and lifting from the lower or middle back – an example of spinal disconnection).
This time using the spine So, as you sit down, go with gravity, and feel the body’s mass dropping. Feel the weight of the pelvis and let it ‘hang’, let the shoulders fall, and feel the weight of your arms, but as you do so, try softening the back of your neck from a point between your shoulder blades and up into your occiput (the hollow at the back of your head where the neck enters), through the base of your skull and to the crown of your head.
Balance. For those of you who find balance difficult, you might find that the above helps, but it takes practise as it involves a change of mindset. This spinal line is very much a physical sense of connectivity within you; there is an actual feeling of a solid line running through the body from top to bottom, as though it were a part of you.
You don’t have to do Tai Chi or Qigong to practise this, you can do it at any time, even when lying in bed. ________________________________________________________________________________________________
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