Tai Chi Posture
When you study tai chi, the first thing you learn is how to stand. The requirements for your posture have one goal: to perfectly align your body with gravity.
Tai chi posture requires perfect alignment with gravity
Aligning your body with gravity will allow you to completely relax, maintain balance easily, and move smoothly, quickly and efficiently in any direction. This is also extremely important when we consider the health of the whole musculoskeletal system and especially the weight bearing joints (vertebral column, hips, knees, and ankles).
Stillness and movement
Before going into Rule # 1 regarding posture, you need to understand a very important fundamental tai chi principle:
“We practice stillness to understand how to move properly.”
This principle may seem difficult to understand at first, but after practicing fundamental static postures for a short time under the guidance of a qualified, this will make sense.
In your beginning classes you will be instructed to hold simple standing postures. Your teacher will make corrections in your posture and alignment. He/she will also teach you how to become aware of and let go of tension in your body that you may not even be aware of.
So holding static postures is of great benefit and importance, and this will also apply to your movements.
Tai Chi Posture Rule # 1
“When standing, imagine a piece of rice paper under your heels. Do not crush it!”
When you are standing, focus your intention fully on this rule, and actively apply it continuously. It will take a little time to get used to this new way of standing, but it is well worth it!
An exercise to test your posture
Below is a simple partner exercise to test Rule # 1:
Stand in a shoulder width stance with parallel feet, arms hanging comfortably at your sides. (In Chen style this known as the Tai Chi Beginning Form. Most style forms begin this way).
Your partner places both hands at the very uppermost point on the top of your head (Baihui), and exerts a slight, quick downward force (push directly towards the ground in line with gravity).
You will do this 2 times:
First, with your body weight thrown back on your heels.
Second, with the above rule in place (i.e. – rice paper under your heels and do not crush it, so weight is slightly shifted forward more to the ball of feet). Your heels will still remain in contact with the ground, just more lightly than on the balls of feet.
The person receiving the push has closed eyes and should focus on the difference in how it feels between the first and second downward push.
When weight is thrown back on your heels as in the first push, this causes a hyperlordosis of your lumbar spine (too much curve in your lower back) and a laziness and lackadaisical posture. When the downward push is applied, there will be no springiness in your ankles, knees, or legs, and you will feel a pressure/pain/shock in your lower back. The force stops in your lower back because of the accentuated curve, which is extremely harmful for your spine!!!
When your weight is as described in Rule # 1 above, your ankles, knees, hips, and spinal joints are springy and absorb the force, your lower back is straighter, and you will not feel any shock or pain in your lower back. The force is transmitted directly to the ground, which is very healthy for your spine.
Please take this Rule # 1 seriously, and try this exercise with a partner. The difference you feel will be quite evident.
Tai chi posture in your daily life
Now apply this rule all the time during practice – in forms, push hands, every aspect of training. And apply this rule also to your daily life. Pay attention to practicing this rule all the time, until in becomes automatic.
During your form practice, stop at any moment and test to see if you are applying this rule until you are doing it easily without thought. Your tai chi will change forever when you follow this simple Rule # 1.
Applying this principle during your practice and in your daily life will eliminate a huge amount of back pain. Save your back for old age!
Please send me your test results. I want to hear from all of you how this affects your tai chi practice and your daily life.
And don’t be surprised when your low back pain disappears!
To study more about tai chi posture and stances click here.
Click here to learn more about the wonderful benefits of your tai chi posture for health, healing, stress, relaxation, and longevity.