There is a technique I use to increase the strength of the legs, as well as the connective tissues of the ankles, knees and hips. I call it Robins or Bobbing, and it involves standing with all the weight on one leg, touching the other toe, and moving the body up and down in a bobbing fashion. I also call this exercise “drilling an oil well with my sit bone (coccyx)”.
A couple of important things. At all times, make sure to have the knee in the same direction as the toe. Don’t let the knee collapse inward or outward.
Two, be sure to keep the spine and upper body straight – don’t bend or lean. A way to test if you are doing this correctly is to stand in a door way, placing you back on the door frame, weight on one foot, foot close to the frame, and run your back up and down on the frame (this is also a good way to scratch your back). And be sure not to shift the weight onto the leg with the toe just touching. All the weight is on the sitting leg.
As an exercise in the morning class, we do 80 Bobs on each leg. We have done as many as 500 in the class, but not usually. This movement is meant to bring dynamic quality to your legs and kua – a quick gather and release movement.
Once you get this bobbing up and down in a light fashion, then you can test your stances and stepping using bobbing. All movements have three parts – gather or neutralize, control, and attack or release. In this exercise, we bob in all three parts. For instance – Ward Off Left. Following Commencement (one can bob for Commencement, but we usually don’t), shift the weight slightly to the left foot (you can bob on the left leg), turn out the right foot and shift the weight onto the left foot and roll up onto the left toe (bob on right – gather), then step forward with the left foot, only touching the left heel (do not shift any weight onto the left foot yet -bob on right – control), and finally shift the weight onto the left foot (bob on left – release).
Ward Off Left Into Ward Off Right. Roll up the right foot, touching the right toe (bob on left – gather). Opening the body slightly to the right, step out the right foot, just touching the heel (bob on left – control). Shift weight to right foot (bob on right – release). On and on through the form. I usually do three bobs for each part of each movement. That’s 15 for Ward Off Left, 9 for Ward Off Right. Start with a few movements and work your way up. The Long Form takes around 40 to 50 minutes.
This exercise will train the body to keep the weight on the standing leg until the other heel establishes a new location to move towards. You will develop strength and dynamic flexibility. And be careful not to overdo. Stop if and when you get tired. Be very mindful of the relationship of knee and toe. Do this either very lightly, or with more intention.
Speaking of intention, one can increase the workout and mind/body connection by imagining doing this exercise with weight. You can imagine weights hanging from your waist and as you Bob, you imagine lifting the weight on straightening the leg, and setting the weight down on the bending phase. Or you can imagine the opposite. The top of the head is attached to weights and you pull down to bend, and you push up as you straighten. You are doing the same movement, but your intention makes your body use different muscle groups do most of the work. Try it. Enjoy the workout.
Somebody just sent me a comment on the video I call Inner Secrets. It covers the three dantiens and how they relate, and how to use this knowledge for health and Tai Chi enjoyment. I haven’t watched this video for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. I hope you will watch it, and that it will encourage your continued practice. 8 parts – This is the first part. 60 minutes total.
New Tai Chi classes at the Studio in Port Townsend start week of Feb.1. Short form Senior with John Considine – Fridays 12:30 to 1:30. Long Form with Stephanie – Thursdays 5:30 – 6:30 PM. Check out the web site – www.gilmanstudio.com for full details.
Sequim Short Form Class with Kevin Pedrey – Tuesdays 8:30 AM. Starts Feb. 6:
Blue Mountain Yoga
803 Carlsborg Rd., Suite D
Sequim, WA 98382
Contact Kevin at: Kpedrey@gmail.com or call 360-477-8553