Tai Chi Warm Ups Part 2: Lower Body

Tai Chi Warm Ups are an essential part of your tai chi training. They are important to understand tai chi basic movements and they prepare you for the more advanced training exercises and forms that follow.

Benefits of the tai chi warm ups

Through this series of 12 simple whole body loosening up exercises you will:

  • Loosen up your muscles and joints
  • Increase qi (vital energy) and blood circulation
  • Relieve and prevent joint pain and injuries
  • Reverse the “normal” effects of aging

The 12 tai chi warm ups aka The Daily Dozen

The 12 Tai Chi Warm Ups are also known as the “Daily Dozen”. Here is a list of their names:

  1. Neck Rotation
  2. Shoulder Rotation
  3. Elbow Rotation 1
  4. Elbow Rotation 2
  5. Wrist Rotation 1
  6. Wrist Rotation2
  7. Finger Rotation
  8. Waist Rotation
  9. Hip Rotation
  10. Knee Rotation
  11. Ankle Rotation
  12. Three Leg Stretches

Part 2: Lower body warm ups

In Part 2, we will cover the Lower Body Warm Ups. In Part 1, we will cover the Upper Body Warm Ups.

At the bottom you will find a video link that demonstrates the entire Daily Dozen series.

Waist Rotation

  1. Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart. Exhale as you bend forward from your waist and let your arms and head hang down loosely, like a “rag doll”. Keep your hips fixed and facing forward.
  2. Inhale as you bend to the left side, and then gently extend to the rear.
  3. Exhale as you bend to the right side, and then forward to the starting position.
  4. Rotate your waist 10 times in each direction.
  5. With the final rotation, bend forward from your waist and let your arms and head hang down loosely, like a “rag doll”.
  6. Slowly roll up from the base of your spine to the standing position.

Hip Rotation

  1. Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart. Place your palms on your hips with your thumbs forward and fingers to the rear pointing down. Relax your chest and shoulders and let your elbows sink down. Keep your knees springy and your feet on the ground.  Focus your eyes to the front.
  2. Shift your hips to the left side, then forward, then to the right side, then backward, and then to the left side again, in one smooth, continuous, rotational motion. Do not roll up the edges of your feet during this movement, keep them firmly on the ground.
  3. Rotate your hips 10 times in each direction.

Special Notes:

  1. The focus of this movement is at the hip socket, where the upper leg bone (head of the femur) joins the large hollow groove on the side of the pelvis (acetabulum). Move by relaxing and allow your hips to sink into the ground.
  2. A large percentage of lower back pain and knee problems is caused by reduced motion at the hip joint, or a “frozen hip”. Most of the time, this is caused by unhealthy lifestyle and lack of proper exercise to this area of the body. When the hip joints are stiff and inflexible, a greater demand is placed on the lower back and knees to make up for this loss of hip mobility. This causes knee and back pain and instability.
  3. The hip rotation described above is an ideal method to loosen and restore the natural mobility of the hip joints. This eliminates the strain on the lower back and knees, and allows them the time and rest necessary for healin

Knee Rotation

  1. Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart. Bend your knees and elbows, and cup your kneecaps with your palms. Relax your shoulders, sink your elbows, and sink the weight of your upper body from palms through your knees into the ground.
  2. Rotate your knees inward (right knee counterclockwise and left knee clockwise). Maintain equal pressure on both knees with your palms.  Keep your feet firmly on the ground, and do not let the edges of your feet roll up.
  3. Rotate your knees inward 10 times and then change direction.

Ankle Rotation

  1. https://dochenstyletaichi.com/wp-admin/edit-tags.php?taxonomy=post_tagStand with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart. Shift your weight to your left foot and raise your right heel slightly off the ground.
  2. Rotate your right ankle 10 times in each direction.
  3. Sink and shift your weight to the right foot and raise your left heel slightly off the ground. Rotate your left ankle 10 times in each direction.

Leg Stretch 1

  1. Stand in Horse Stance.
  2. Rotate your right foot in from the heel until it is at a 45 degree angle relative to the left foot. Rotate your hips and shoulders to the left until they face the same direction as your left toes. Place your left palm on your left knee and your right palm on your right hip. Keep back straight, and do not allow buttocks to protrude to the rear.
  3. Bend your left knee to 90 degrees (maximum) and stretch your right leg. Do not extend your left knee beyond your toes. Do not lock your right knee or allow it to collapse inward. Keep the groin area open, and both feet firmly on the ground. Do not roll up the inner or outer edges of your feet. Relax your shoulders, sink your elbows, and relax your hips. Keep both shoulders and hips parallel with the ground.
  4. Hold this position for 5 or 6 breaths. Each time you exhale, relax and sink a little deeper into the stretch. After the last breath, change sides.

Leg Stretch 2

  1. Stand in Horse Stance. Cup your knees with your palms. Shift your hips to the left and squat down on your left leg. Extend your right leg but keep a slight bend at the right knee. Keep both feet firmly on the ground. Lift your head up and keep your torso upright and relaxed.  Relax your shoulders and sink your elbows. Only squat as deeply as you can while still maintaining your upright posture with good structural alignment of the knees, and feet firmly on the ground.
  2. Hold this position for 5 or 6 breaths. Each time you exhale, relax and sink a little deeper into the stretch. After the last breath, change sides.

Leg Stretch 3

  1. Stand in Horse Stance. Cup your knees with your palms. Shift your hips to the left and squat down on your left leg. Extend your right leg and point your right toes up, so that only your right heel is in contact with the ground.  Keep your left foot firmly on the ground. Lift your head up and keep your torso upright and relaxed. Relax your shoulders and sink your elbows. Only squat as deeply as you can while still maintaining your upright posture and good structural alignment of the knees.
  2. Hold this position for 5 or 6 breaths. Each time you exhale, relax and sink a little deeper into the stretch, allowing more and more of the back of your right leg to contact the ground. After the last breath, change sides.

Special Notes:

  1. Practice these leg stretches several time each day. Always stretch slowly and gently, with relaxation on exhalation. Never force your muscles and joints to open. Take your time. Stretch by relaxing and letting go.
  2. Pay close attention to the alignment of your back and knees in relation to your feet. Distinguish the difference between healthy, safe stretching and unhealthy straining of joints and soft tissues (i.e. pain!)  Be patient with yourself.  Stretch a little bit more each day. In a short time you will regain youthful flexibility of your leg muscles, and feel much renewed energy.

Click here to follow along with Tai Chi Warm Ups Part 2: Lower Body

Click here to follow along with the complete Tai Chi Warm Ups.

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