Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lucky Eights


Tai chi is full of circles and spirals. It's not obvious to beginners because they are accustomed to working linearly. They try to get from here to there in a straight path. There is nothing like that in tai chi. This week, I am writing about what is called a Figure 8 movement of the waist and dan tien.

Start by standing with your feet apart, about the width of your hips or your shoulders. Push off with one foot and shift your weight to the other foot. Keep your body straight and don't turn your hips or your waist. Push off and move to the other side. If you pay close attention to your body, you can notice that only way to move in this linear, straight-line direction is to keep your hips tight and tense. You have to tighten the muscles to move in a straight line. This is not tai chi.

Back to the beginning. Bring your attention to your hips, pelvis, and waist. Relax and loosen the muscles around the hips and pelvis. Let yourself sink. Tighten up the muscles and feel how it changes your posture. Relax and sink again. Play with it a little and get comfortable with the feeling. You are relaxing both left and right sides, so you should be sinking straight down.

This time, start with all your weight on your right leg. Relax and sink into the weighted right leg. Pay close attention to the feeling and stay relaxed. You should feel a small tug or pull that pulls your right hip back so that your hips rotate clockwise relative to the floor. You may have to nudge it a little to start to feel the sensations of rotating. Try it on the left side and play with it.

After you feel comfortable with sinking on each side, start to add in a weight shift. Starting on the right, sink as before. This time, as your hip rotates back, push off with the right leg. Shift your weight across to the left. Sink onto the left leg and let your hips continue to rotate. This time, the rotation is counterclockwise. As your left hip rotates back, push off with the left leg. Shift your weight across to the right until you are back where you started.

Now rotate your waist relative to your hips. I talked about this last week. Read it here. Combine this with your other movement.

Do it again and pay close attention to the movement. Your lower abdomen (dan tien, belly button) should trace out a path in space shaped like a figure 8. This is very similar to the idea of spiral force that I have written about in the past. Read more here.

© 2014 Eric Borreson