Stage one. A calm mind increases awareness and helps relax the body to promote sensitivity. The combination of the two will eventually unite the mind and body. So the start of each Tai Chi session is for the mind to to lead some simple relaxing moves, staying fully focused in those movements/moments and observing how the body feels.
The first exercise is the classic "Tai Chi Swing" Here you will experience the fundamentals of Tai Chi movement, which is turning the waist and changing the weight to effortlessly circle the arms.
Joints and Tendons
Stage two, Next it is essential to take time to loosen up every single joint in the body. The nine primary joints are the wrists, elbows, shoulders, back, waist. hips, knees, ankles and neck. Chen style follows this order and extends to the extremities including fingers and toes. (The order is reversed in the Tai Chi Forms with the mind controlling the energy rising up from the ground, throuth the feet, legs, hips, waist, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists and issued through the hands)
Opening the joints includes dynamically stretching tendons and ligaments, but only in a gentle manner. This is to avoid injury, but eqally important it further helps settle the mind and body for a focused session.This will help Chi to fully circulate and remove any blockages. It also improves strength and flexibility within the joints.
All the Chen style loosening exercises involve circular movements.
Never in any movement, "lock out" any joints, always keep a degree of bend.
Sinking the weight (Grounding or Rooting)
A third aspect of relaxation is sinking all the joints of the body, excluding the head. So there is a feeling of your weight dropping down through your feet. This gives stability to the lower body which increases upper body freedom.
Pliancy & Silk-Reeling
The fourth aspect of relaxation is to move with ease and agility. Relaxation increases the range of motion in the joints. Chen Silk-Reeling opens up and enlivens each joint as it spirals energy in all directions. The tendons, ligaments, muscles and tissue similarly increase elasticity and springiness with a youthful feel !
Only Chen Tai Chi includes the most important Silk Reeling exercises, so it is important to incorporate some of these elements as part of a focused beginning.
As the body relaxes, the breath will slow down and this will further help reaxation. A virtuous cycle.
When beginning to learn Tai Chi, do not try to manipulate the breath but settle into a slow easy rhythm. Aim to breath through the nose
This is the synergy of the mind, body and breath moving freely, in perfect harmony, in a moving meditation.
The aim is a 100% focused and aware mind, leading completely connected yet relaxed whole body moves, with the fullest of natural breath.
Focus only on your movements as your mind directs them to happen (the here and now),
The mind should lead every movement (particularlly avoid being scattered and scatty)
Give each element of every movement 100% attention.
In the beginning it is more important to focus on how the body is moving and feeling, rather than becoming over concened about getting the choreography spot on. Progression comes with regular practice and is an evolutionary process of refinement.
Remember this is a moving meditation - the mind and body fully connected, with the mind always leading the body.
Without your undivided attention to your movement, you are not engaging in Tai Chi nor fully receiving its benefits, Avoid just learning a sequence and illusions.
Tai Chi has to be a moving meditation, first cultivating stillness and then sensitivity in movement. That is why it is practiced slowly.
Dont skimp this focused start up routine.
Click on the You Tube clip below to view an explanation of the importance of opening joints and energy channels.
The next link provides instructions for a series of loosen up exercises from a Yang Tai Chi Master and Author. It may be useful to print this. Relate to it regularly before and after progress.
Taoist Chen style Tai Chi - Looseners
Chen style Tai Chi "Silk Reeling"
In addition Chen style classes include Silk Reeling exercises.
The You Tube explanation below is included for illustration of the movements.
Silk Reeling further prepares the body for Chen style Tai Chi Forms
Part 1 clip www.
Part 2 clip www.
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