"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-recognition of what has become known in my classes as the "I-Hunch" I wish I had coined this term, but alas, I did not. It was coined by New Zealand physiotherapist,Steve August, in recognition of the posture we take when we lose ourselves in our iPhones (or whatever and I will be the first to admit I am not immune. I spend way too much time lovingly bent over my iPad) Walking or sitting, staring into our tiny screens, our heads fall forward, putting enormous stress on our necks, and according to former Harvard Business Professor, Amy Cuddy it's the equivalent of dangling five gallons of paint from the top of your spine. ouch.
And this posture, these five gallons of paint -- what is the effect? Ms. Cuddy claims that it's dire. You will have decreased ... just about everything. But the one thing she focuses on is your mood, even your self esteem. You may ultimately feel somewhat depressed. I've tested the theory in reverse. If I'm feeling down, will I feel better if I pull my head, oh so grudgingly, into a more upright position? The answer is -- resoundingly -- yes! It has worked for me and it's been a very useful, important even, discovery.
And so I'd like to suggest in this post that you try this simple, action whenever you feel slightly down. Imagine a long thread attached to the crown of your head (which is the back of the top of your head) and stretching towards the heavens. Actually, with the thread sewn to your crown, your chin will angle just slightly in towards your neck, your eyes will search out the horizon, just below full on level.