Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 273
Essential Elements for the Inner Journey
Tai Chi is a blending of the inner thought and the translating of this into physical action. Tai Chi is a meditative movement art. The more the mind is involved, the greater the results. I will be sharing with you some ideas to help you focus when playing your form. My title for this activity is “Essential Elements for the Inner Journey.” Many of these I have already written about, but repetition builds understanding. Some hopefully will resonate with you, others probably not. I hope you find at least one that will turn you on. I’ll be putting these out, off and on, for several months, so stay tuned. These are listed randomly. There is no particular order.
Toe Touching
Tai Chi means the interaction of Yin and Yang, the constant flow back and forth between the two, like the ebb and flood of the tides. It can also be compared to putting money into a bank account. Acquiring the money and depositing it is Yin. The earning interest and spending it, is Yang. The more Yin, the more Yang.
The point is, when playing Tai Chi, to increase your earning and restrict your spending. We earn money by loading up the kua (hip area) by placing all of our weight on one leg. That is like compressing a spring. To make sure we are putting all our weight on a leg, we roll up the other foot and just lightly touch the toe. One should be able to lift the toes off the ground or lightly touch, as a form of insurance that if you get pulled or pushed, the toe touching foot can immediately come into play. The beauty of Tai Chi Chuan is that someone else (partner or opponent) can make a deposit into our account by their actions.
So every time you step, forward or back, make sure you are fully committed to the standing foot by rolling up onto the other foot toes.
I get quite a few questions which I try to answer. This is one I think is of interest to most Tai Chi players.
Should I eat before or after practicing Tai Chi?
There are many variables to this question. Is the practice morning or evening? Are you hungry before practice, or more hungry after? How much time between eating and practice? What is your level of Tai Chi proficiency? Is your practice meditative or active?
I am an early riser. I get up around 5 AM and have my first class at 9 AM so I plan ahead and eat at least 2 hours ahead of the class. Teaching takes a lot of energy. And food takes quite a while to digest, so plan ahead so you can exercise without fear of upset stomach.
If you do a meditative form in the morning, I would suggest a glass of juice or fruit, 30 minutes before practice. For more vigorous practice – weapons, partner work including push hands, I think a couple of hours before would be appropriate. If you feel your stomach upset after or during practice, lighten up what you eat, increase the time between eating and practice, or skip eating all together and plan to eat after the workout.