To someone watching Tai Chi looks simple, graceful and easy to do. Just some slow moving gentle movements that seem to come naturally until you try it. Why, in practice, does it seem to feel choppy and uncoordinated?
Many times my students tell me that they are relaxed but when questioned, they are still holding tension in their bodies but are not aware of it. During each workout the movements of Tai Chi exercise every muscle, ligament, tendon and joint of the body. Like all qigong programs, Tai Chi relaxes and regulates the central nervous system, releasing physical and emotional stress, and promoting mental and emotional well-being.
Often when first learning a tai chi form you must spend many days, weeks and months simply learning the external movements. Once you have learned the external movements so that you don’t have to ‘think’ about doing them, you can then start to focus more on sensing the qi.
So how do you get past the thinking about each move?
- Practice slowly. Pick ONE posture to work on at a time. This may start with just mastering the weight shifts. It’s easier to really internalize how each movement feels when you do it slowly.
- Pay attention to every small detail, find the “feeling” of each movement. Visualize the movement in your mind as you do it.
- Breathe! Use your breath as a tool when moving or shifting weight. Notice your inhales and exhales, Are they long or short? Deep or Shallow?
- Relax. They say it takes 1000 times to learn a new form, 10,000 times to master it. So what’s the hurry? Its about the journey – not the destination.
- Patience. You didn’t learn to run until you learned to walk. Be kind to yourself, Tai Chi is never “perfect”, allow yourself mistakes, that is how we learn and master new things.
Along your journey you will hit walls and plateaus, don’t let that discourage you. When you least expect it you will have a “lightbulb” moment and it will all come together. Trust me!