Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip #345
East vs. West Bodies
   I want to share with you a look at the Tai Chi body and compare it to the more traditional Western view of beauty and function.
   The Western ideal for a man is sometimes represented by Hercules. Huge, powerful arms, chest and shoulders, tools to grab something and control it using strength. The waist is small and very tight to emphasize the abs. Other aspects of this ideal incorporate a suppression of feelings and emotions, while the breathing is shallow, indicating emotions that are always right on the edge of uncontrolled release. The legs are usually not very important since most of the lifting and strength activities are done with the arms. The step is usually heavy as the body falls forward from step to step.
   Now compare that to the Tai Chi body. It is heavier on the bottom, as most of the work is done with the legs. The waist is larger in relation to the upper body, as the breathing and essential movement all originate in the waist area, allowing free expression of emotions. The muscles are softer on the outside with a firm core inside. The arms tend to have a sinewy quality. In the West we view the head as the center of control for the body, whereas in the East, the belly is the center.
   This difference makes for bodies and minds that relate to time and space in different ways. The West tends to reach out for what it wants, while the East sits back and waits for the situation to evolve and come to it. The West is more like a tiger on the prowl, while the East is more like a spider waiting on the web.
   Be aware that your body reflects your cultural, mental, and spiritual ideas. If you want to change your body, you’ll probably have to change how you relate to the world.