Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tips # 445
Tai Chi Body
We want to take a look at the Tai Chi body and compare it to the more traditional Western view of beauty and health.
The Western ideal for a man is sometimes represented by Hercules. Huge, powerful arms, chest and shoulders. Tools to grab something or beat it into submission. The waist is small and very tight. Other aspects of this “ideal” incorporate a suppression of feelings or emotions, and shallow breathing, indicating emotions that are always right on the edge. The legs are usually not very important as 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 originates 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 dissimilar ways. The West tends to reach out and grab for things 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 in 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.