Selected tips, lessons and advice from our free student email newsletter…
Ignite your Tai Chi in Freezing Cold Weather
No class on Monday, February 4. We are closed this evening, due to frozen roads and nasty weather.
In the meantime, let me share a few ideas for developing your Tai Chi skills from the safety and comfort of your home. In fact, each of these methods can be used without even leaving your chair!
#1: Visualize the form while seated. Close your eyes, and watch yourself perform every movement in the Tai Chi form. Incorporate every detail you’ve learned in class; an average posture contains four distinct movements. Spend five to fifteen minutes on this exercise, however much you have learned and can remember.
Can’t recall all the movements yet? Try this instead…
#2: Teach the master. Watch the Fu Zhongwen video on the website. As he moves into each posture, announce the name of that posture aloud. This exercise will help you to associate the names with the movements.
Haven’t memorized the postures yet? No problem. This is your Monday homework assignment…
#3: Read, recite and repeat. Scan the chart on the website, then close your eyes and recite the posture names in order. At the point where you cannot remember the next posture, just open your eyes and read it.
Challenge yourself to learn two or three new posture names each day. If you perform this exercise daily, you are guaranteed to remember the entire Yang 85 form within six weeks! Anyone can do it.
I promise you that reciting the names this way, will help you to remember the associated movements in order, as you gradually continue to learn them in class.
There you have it. A seated practice method for everyone, from experts to absolute beginners! So grab a warm blanket, tuck yourself in, and take another step towards Tai Chi mastery.
Shoreline Tai Chi
Is Tai Chi a Martial Art?
Turning on a Dime
Our style of Tai Chi demands a few turns and spins on a weighted foot. “Single Whip” and “Turn Body, Lotus Kick” are two examples of this requirement. When performing these movements, our goal is to shrink the ground contact point (heel or ball of foot) to the smallest possible area. Preferably no larger than a dime.
Proper technique is essential. Proper footwear is important too. And on top of that, we need to choose our practice ground carefully.
The traditional Yang style Tai Chi form is optimized for a flat, hard, level, low-friction surface. Rough, sloped, or soft ground can easily stop your foot turning too early during a pivot. And if your trunk keeps turning while your foot is planted, your knee will suffer the punishment.
Always protect your knees. For home practice, I suggest you avoid grass, sand, or thick carpet. Consider your driveway, parking garage, or a nearby tennis court instead.
Shoreline Tai Chi
How to Squat like the Old Masters
Tai Chi and the Myth of Relaxation
Tai Chi Footwear
You may have noticed that I wear black cotton slippers during class. There are two main reasons I prefer these over standard athletic footwear.
Firstly, the slippers are flat. Athletic shoes often feature extra padding in the heel, which keeps you standing on a slight forward incline. This forced lean is not ideal for Tai Chi practice, in my opinion.
Secondly, these cotton outsoles have very little grip on the floor. This makes pivoting on the ball or heel easier, and reduces the chances of any accidental twisting at the knee joint. There are other benefits too.
You can find them for as little as $14 on Amazon, if you search for “cotton kung fu slippers”. Other popular Tai Chi footwear choices include skateboarding shoes, indoor soccer shoes, or just thick socks.
Tai Chi and Lower Back Pain
Tai Chi is good for health. Repeating the Tai Chi form every day, or as much of it as you can remember, will gradually build your strength, balance and flexibility, among other benefits. With that said, if you are currently suffering from a specific physical health complaint, I believe the best approach is to deal with that issue directly.
Tai Chi practice can mitigate lower back pain issues over weeks and months. But with appropriate supplemental exercises, you can often find relief and improvement within days, or even minutes!
Youtube is a great reference for physical therapy and general training tips. Here is a simple, ten-minute lower back flexibility routine that I have personally used and enjoy.
Shoreline Tai Chi