Skip to main content

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-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.


This woman I saw recently in Prospect Park.   "This is what I want to walk like, and my students to look like"  I thought when I saw her, and I asked if I could videotape her.  Her head is more dancer-like than t'ai chi practitioner,  the gaze is absolutely level,  but it was striking and I thought we could gather some insights from it.  






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

By not doing nothing is left undone

Taoism, a philosophy as well as a religion Came across an interesting article in the NYT recently about Taoism’s perspective on what it means to be human and what it means to die.   Tai chi as you may know is the movement embodiment of Taoism, and I’ve been curious for most of my time studying this Eastern art to understand what Taoism is all about.  But aside from the amazing writings of LaoTze -- a must! -- I've been somewhat disappointed.  there's precious little on the books.   (Though ask me about the few t'ai chi stories that you come across now and then, including the one about the man at the drive-through Starbucks!)   ALL JOKING ASIDE,    I’ve found only simple one sentence references to what Taoism is — like being in sync with nature, or yin-yang.  ho hum.   Glibly said,  easily forgotten.    So when I came  across this  article the other day, titled  A conversation with the religious scholar Brook Ziporyn on Taoism, life and what might come after.  I was delig

Needles in Cotton

 This morning,  in my qigong class,  I introduced the classic t'aiji image  -- a needle in cotton -- that like so much of t'aiji and qigong, is delightful and mysterious.  What it signifies to me is  -- is nothing less than becoming t'ai chi.   what I mean by that is that you will change and in a magnificent direction.   One day -- after years of  waving your arms around gently and stepping firmly and turning your waist  as instructed,   one day,  you will feel this odd new ... connection.   Your breath enters and leaves, you might feel a tingling in your wrists and suddenly your limbs are weightless.   It's so hard to convey.  I feel I"m not succeeding and I'm not sure that this writer,  Danny Dreyer,   does the job much better but I"m going to let him try.      I'm excerpting from his book,  T'ai Chi Walking,  to better explain it “NEEDLE IN COTTON: GATHER TO YOUR CENTER AND LET GO OF ALL ELSE A fundamental principle in ChiWalking that has be
I just discovered an extraordinary t'ai chi artist or warrior  or dancer (or all three),  Sifu (or master) Cheung Kwok Wha.   He's doing a form I haven't seen,   Needles in Cotton,  or  Pak Hok Pai. I believe its roots are in ancient Tibet.  Anyways, Sifu Cheung's  movements are so precise,  so centered,  so ... exquisite. I watched him performing the form  straight through barely breathing.   Click on the highlighted part, and enjoy!