Tai Chi Chuan is a traditional Chinese martial art form that involves a precise sequence of soft and slow movements. Indeed, this is often confused with Qigong. However, they are not exactly similar. While Tai Chi incorporates Qigong, the latter is a coordinated system of breathing, meditation, and bodily movements. For those who are new to Tai Chi, here are some important principles to know to practice the moves efficiently.
1. Correct Back & Chest Posture
Slightly stretch your spine outward and chest inward. Make sure to keep your chest relaxed. Stretch the back so that your shoulder blades slightly push toward the spine. Keeping this posture will help you breathe correctly and will also keep the energy flow even.
2. Correct Head Posture
Stand on a steady surface. Suspend your head from the crown without putting any stress on it. Imagine a string from the ceiling is gently pulling your head upward. Remember to keep your neck neutral as you set this head posture.
3. Relax Without Tension
While practicing the Tai Chi Chuan movements, your joints should stay relaxed and flexible. Of course, relaxation shouldn’t mean being limp. Make sure there is no tension in the joints and that each joint integrates into a proper posture with the least muscular exertion. As for the shoulders and elbows, learn to relax your shoulders and sink your elbows.
4. Relax The Waist
Keeping the waist relaxed while executing Tai Chi Chuan moves is essential. This is because the waist initiates every move, whether a foot or a hand movement. Moreover, it is only with a relaxed waist that can one ensure a stable foundation. If your waist is not relaxed, directing the even flow of energy will not not be easy.
5. Coordinate The Lower & Upper Body
In Tai Chi Chuan, a vibration begins from your legs, goes through your back, through your arms, and then expresses through your fingers. This can happen only if your feet are standing firmly on the floor. As well, the lower and upper body should move in harmony to execute the movements without disruption.
6. Considerable VS Inconsiderable
Many Tai Chi leg movements will require you to empty your weight from one leg and put the weight on the other leg. Make sure to carry out a smooth transition of weight. Remember to never have a point when the weight is evenly distributed between your legs. This can lead to slow and difficult movement.
7. The Entire Body As A Single Unit
Your whole body should work as a single unit. That means that, when one limb moves, the rest of your body must automatically follow.
8. Correct Breathing
You need to breathe from your lower abdomen. At the same time, your breathing and your movements should be coordinated and work together. Make sure that each breath is slow, full and deep.
9. Let The Mind Be The Ruler
Focus on your mind instead of your strength while executing Tai Chi movements. Let your mind direct each of the movements and let your body follow them. This is the right way to practice this active meditation.
10. Unity Of Mind & Body
As mentioned, the mind commands the body and the body follows. When both become one, there is no direction and no response. This is the state of effortlessness that comes only with focus.