Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Qigong and the Principles of T'ai Chi, Part II

This second part of Qigong and the Principles of T'ai Chi covers the mind, posture and movement principles. 

Maintain a calm, alert mind.  The mind is not directed at any particular thing, and as such it is a non-specific or "fuzzy" awareness.  Fuzzy does not mean lazy, of course.  Developing the calm mind that fosters this type of awareness takes practice.  And development of this mind is absolutely necessary to move ch'i with your intention and to sink your ch'i to the dantien.  If all is calm, breathing also smoothly flows in and out of the dantien area.

While moving, let your intention guide your movements, not your strength.  The Taoist arts are not about strength, energy follows intention.  If you are aware of yin and yang extremes (full, empty; open, closed; etc) of the movements as well, you move more gracefully.  

Maintaining your alignments is important in static as in movement exercises.  Bad alignments can drain your energy.  The head should be held up, as it is suspended by a string from the Bai hui point.  Moving the chin downward a little also helps open the occipital area where the spine enters the head.  Maintaining this head posture helps keep the mind clear and calm.  Allow the chest to drop as well, this opens up the upper back and the space between the shoulder blades.

The hips should support the torso evenly on both sides when in a neutral position.  This is where standing practice really helps.  It also allows the pelvis and the tailbone to relax downward.  These lower boy alignments help you sink the ch'i to the lower dantien.  It also helps to gradually open up the lower and upper spine.  Imagine that the weight of the hips is supported by a ball allows the relaxing and dropping down of the tailbone.

In movements, the torso should remain erect, not leaning to the sides, forward or back.  The erect posture allows optimal energy flow up and down the spine.  Movement of the torso should occur within the kwa, or inguinal crease area, making the muscles of the upper thigh twist and the energy spiral through your legs.  Swing movements like those in  Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body are good practice to enable this ability.  Standing meditation will also help relax and open up the hips for improved energy flow.

Lastly, movements of the upper body should be coordinated with the lower body.  Having one half of the body finish movements before the other is a definite no no.  Hone your technique over time and use the help of friends and get critique from a professional instructor.  Sometimes you think you are doing everything perfect when you aren't.  Accurate proprioception is difficult to achieve sometimes.

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