Imagination

We can help each other’s t’ai chi practice with imagination. We can stretch our spirits with images, metaphors and partnering exercises that involve listening and following the energy coming from your fellow participants.

For example, indulge your imagination and engage your breathing, body and center. Imagine your whole body suspended as if from a string from the top of your head. Try and actually feel gravity embracing your body weight down through your feet. Think in terms of emptying your mind of chattering voices and daily anxieties that clutter your life and thoughts. Focus on your center, your dan tien, and find reservoirs of calm and attentiveness that result.

Thus the imagination allows us to stretch our possibilities in movement and meditation and facilitates the ‘letting go’ so essential to t’ai chi and Daoism, a Chinese philosophy/religion based on accepting change. When we learn we control nothing, we unleash new potential to manage our attitudes and responses to daily “obstacles,” exercise our imaginations, and live the consequences of our actions and behaviors. Our classes strive to cultivate our minds and imaginations in the t’ai chi journey in a safe and nurturing environment.

Beginner Exercises

We have developed a series of exercises, Qi Gong movements and t’ai chi postures, to expedite learning and accommodate and respond to individual needs and conditions. The following are a few examples of exercises that we employ before we begin the t’ai chi form:

  1. Sitting in a chair, imagine your head and body are suspended from a string and that your spinal column is a string of pearls that are your vertebrae. Now slowly lift your hands and arms and pretend that you are driving a car. Relax your shoulders and breathe deeply into your belly.
  2. Stand against a wall with the heels of your feet ~6” from the wall with knees slightly bent. Think of the natural “S”-curve of the spine. Although straightening the curve is not possible, imagine doing so: imagine pressing the back of the neck (the “jade pillow”) against the wall and, at the same time, pressing the lower back against the wall.
  3. Shoulder width and root; standing quietly, suspended from a string, sink and relax with your feet under each shoulder with a natural width. Feel your feet spread from outside to inside, toes to heel and embrace your body weight as you find your balance. Use your breath as a guide towards calm that sustains that balance.
  4. Bow posture provides a structural building block for learning t’ai chi’s postures and form. With either foot forward, find a strong root with 70% of the weight in the front foot and the other foot slightly toed out and shoulder width behind. With both knees bent, the back straight and the body suspended as if from a string, relax into the posture.

We emphasize the importance of bending the knees over the toes, slowing down our movements, listening to our bodies and doing everything possible to avoid injury or harm.

Indeed, our entire approach revolves around healing injuries, promoting health and well being. All our practices and classes are non-competitive. We strive to provide a safe, secure and friendly environment to learn T’ai Chi.

With practice, gateways to the wonder of t’ai chi will open for you immediately. Give it a try!

Meditation

Meditation proves elusive for many of us, so we find solace in t’ai chi’s breathing, postures and movement to ‘eliminate random thoughts’. That can be the rub – quieting the mind from the noises, stresses and worries of everyday life. T’ai chi opens the gateway immediately to all in the search for ways to meditate. With quiet standing we can simply count our breaths, slow, quiet and continuous and concentrate our minds on our dan-tiens (centers). Easier said than done, we help each other by practicing ‘moving meditation’ with our t’ai chi and qi-gong exercises together.  As quickly as possible, we try to share techniques and integrate the t’ai chi instruction with letting go of random thoughts, and worse, worries, that clutter our minds and distract our living in the moment.  Sooner rather than later, we discover that simply practicing t’ai chi provides a meditative path to promoting centering, calm and tranquility.