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some final thoughts about posture

Children playing,  automatically find that relaxed and alert posture.  How do we
get back there?  As an adult,  it will take conscious attention, thinking about it, and silently asking those top neck vertebrae to align themselves in an upright stack.

                              I try whenever I can remember to practice the tall, lifted head, when I'm walking
the dog,  or just walking...whenever I think of it.
Recent posts

Can a t'ai chi posture win out over the i-phone?

Again, at the risk or being repetitive, class, let me remind you,
"Imagine a long thread arising from the crown of your head and running up to the sky. "  and adding something to the effect that this is the position your head should take in taiji.  It should rise up from your spine and sit regally at the top of the last vertebra ,  aspiring to literally great heights.

I must say something along these lines once every class.   And no-one minds.  Necks for a moment seem to straighten and extend a little bit,  eyes gazing calmly straight ahead,  yet  within the next few minutes, or less,  they scrunch back down.   The eyes follow,  seeming to search the floor as the student tries to get the foot in the right position for the next move.    We joke -- is there an uneven floorboard, or even a dangerous crevasse you might fall into?  (The floors in my studio at Spoke the Hub are  those sprung wood dance floors with nary a speck of dust btw)

And then we  all smile in self-recognitio…

ruminations on posture

Standing with head gently erect, eyes straight ahead.  Why is it so hard?   
Wherever you take a t’ai chi class,  from whichever teacher in whatever town or village in the world, you will hear at some point,  imagine a long thread,  stretching from the crown of your head, to the sky.    it’s almost always something I say at the beginning of each class (after all the other postural instructions, starting from the feet).     
it’s quite an image,  though,  your crown attached umbilically to the heavens,  and we may struggle a bit trying to visualize it, let alone to enact, and then to stay like this throughout the one hour class!   Don’t feel discouraged.    I tell my class that it’s probably the hardest part of the pose and the form — keeping your eyes focused ahead, your head relaxed on the stem of your neck.   

A teaching:   Hawkes, my erstwhile teacher, would tell us,  
you can kill with your eyes!
You can't though if your eyes are cast down, searching the floor.  Kill with your eyes…

When stuff is lying around on the floor

When I started this blog, I promised to write about how to incorporate t'ai chi into every day life -- walking around,  in the house, on an icy sidewalk -- and I haven't kept my word.  I've been writing about all kinds of things --   your carrying-the-ball hands,  t'ai chi villages in China --   but not about the mundane and for that I apologize.

And I'm going to change that here, when I talk about how to deal, in a t'ai chi way, with stuff lying around on the floor.  You may have something that is always there, that you need to walk around,  occasionally pick up,  maybe curse at it a little.  Maybe you've got a small step leading into a room.

In my case, it's Violet, my catahoula leopard dog.  She was a rescue, with a sad story, and a very sensitive disposition.  How I got her.   I had had a couple of catahoulas, and knew and liked this breed, that rumor has it, was developed in Louisiana (There's a parish of Catahoula).   It's an impossible,…

Chen man ch'ing doing the form

"Tai chi and meditation are the things that make it possible for me not to flip out.”
Laurie Anderson

It's interesting that Anderson  and her husband, the great Lou Reed, may he rest in peace,  were passionate about t'ai chi.   He was sick for many years, and turned to tai chi as a form of non-invasive medical treatment.

I'm forwarding a video of Master Chen man ch'ing performing the entire Yang form, which is what you're studying.  Master Chen is accredited with bringing the Yang form of tai chi to the States, I believe in the 50s.   You'll see the light and easy way he does that first move.    It's just a formal way of moving into the start, or our tai chi stance with both feet parallel and shoulder width apart and saying ... "now we can begin"
  ~  Susan

Chen Village

the sole reason I'm posting this YouTube video, is for the literally practiced carrying the 🏀 ball -- in couples!   An actual ball, held with what looks like very light pressure.   It is so intriguing and looks like fun, doesn't it?  You'll find it about two minutes into the video, which is a short documentary about Chen Villsge, where children are taught tai chi from age 5,  and  almost all sentient adults practice it too.  In other words, just about the entire village practices t'ai chi.  Wow.  I would love to spend some time there,   With all the tradition,  those little ritual fires, all the  exercise, and then I'm curious -- does it change people?  Are they, you know, better human beings?

Anyway.   I thought we could try this duo-carrying-the-ball exercise when we're back in the studio,

BTW, re the form you're seeing in this film --   It's the Chen form, which has evolved into something SO different to what we do.  I've studied the Chen form …

carrying the ball

Should you be Picky?

When I have a class of students  "carrying the ball" in the course of doing t'ai chi form,  I try to provide a hint about how to visualize the size of said ball, and say it's roughly soccer-ball size.  And I walk around the room, casting an approving or disapproving eye on the classs as they move from the first move into the second, bringing the the right hand over the left, an empty space between the two hands,  and begin to turn. Throughout the form, we'll carry the ball again and again, maybe a dozen times. But one student asks, why does it have to be that size? What if your ball is the size of an orange?

If your imaginary ball is that small, I want to say (but I hold myself back) it just isn't right.  

Her question though makes me feel suddenly a little cranky.  So I sit with that feeling and ultimately ask myself,  is being picky OK? What is my justification, when I tell students -- hold your arms out a little farther, raise your eyes a…