Greetings. Today we look at knee alignment. Pay close attention to this, please.
Before we consider the knees, a thought about width of stance, which we examined yesterday. I spend so much time with Tai Chi that I tend to view the world along a yin/yang continuum. We are so often presented the idea of opposites – male-female, up-down, front-back, etc. But, of course, that is not exactly the way I do it.
Take the stances. We could consider the wide stance yang, the narrow stance as yin, the shoulder width stance as neutral. Yet as in every instance I can think of, when does yin change into yang? The hip width stance is more yang than the narrow, but more yin than the shoulder width. When we look at the Tai Chi symbol, the double fish, it is easier to make a guess. But life is not so clear cut.
So, as always, think about it yourself. It is informative and meditative to examine your form through yin/yang glasses and try to understand when a move changes from yin to neutral to yang. More on all this later.
The knees are the part of the body that are most challenged in Tai Chi practice. Whether standing or moving, the knees always have some work to do. My general rule is to make absolutely sure that the knees always go in the direction as the toes. Always. The only way I know that a Tai Chi player can hurt themselves is if the knees either collapse inward or twist outward. Inward is much more common. This is the physical problem most people suffer from. How many knee replacements do you see or know about? Lots.
Through Tai Chi practice, we can align and strengthen the knees. You just need to be sure to always keep them in line. When standing straight or slight squat, make a concerted effort to align them. The muscles can be realigned and trained.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with toes facing straight ahead. The knees are soft, do not lock them, or bend too much. Make sure the toes face the same direction as the toes. You want to feel the whole foot pressing onto the floor which you can’t if the knees are locked. Soft knees are so important in the transferring of energy from the floor upward. Try jumping without bending your knees first. Locked knees also throw the pelvis out of alignment which we will examine tomorrow.