Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 397

Yin/Yang of Clean-Up

As I’ve said many times, these Tips are not designed to teach the physical movements of Tai Chi, but to give you motivation to practice what you know, or to seek out an instructor, online or in person.

I feel the Kua (hip area where the leg joins the torso) is a key to enjoyment and excellence in inner directed movement. The chi that the body/mind takes in, and/or converts from stored chi, is compressed (yin) into the legs and Kua, and then released (yang) from the Kua to some other place in the body. This is the basis for Tai Chi as a healthful exercise and effective martial art. The longer one practices and studies, the more the Yin/Yang interaction becomes the over-riding philosophy.

The weather change to Fall in Port Townsend, causes leaves to let go of their connection to the tree and make their way to the ground. Around my house, with it’s many trees, it is my job to clean up the leaves and take them to the compost area. As I was doing that the other day, I had one of those “ah-ha” Tai Chi moments.

The two main actions I used were raking and sweeping. Raking is a yin action. One reaches out with the rake, with the weight on the forward foot. Then one uses the bow stance (forward leg) to move to sit stance (rear leg) to pull the leaves towards the body. In Tai Chi we call this yin phrase “gather”. It is not the arms that do the pulling, but the front leg pushing down which moves the body back, resulting in the leaves moving towards the body or leaf pile.

The other action is sweeping, which is yang. I use a corn or straw (standard kind) broom. I put the broom behind the leaves and push or flick the leaves away from my body. I start in sit stance, with the body behind the broom and then shifting the weight forward, push the leaves away – “release”.

Raking uses “pull – gather” while sweeping uses “push – release”. Perfect Tai Chi.

I had a wonderful Tai Chi practice, got a lot done, and really enjoyed my “lesson”. Can you think of any day to day activities that can benefit from Tai Chi philosophy in action?

One other ah-ha about cleaning leaves. My gentle raking and sweeping can be compared to internal martial arts like Tai Chi. There is also another idea to ponder – using external or “hard style” to deal with the task at hand. The soft style uses rakes and brooms. Controlled moving of the leaves. What about the hard style? My thought is that the use of leaf blowers is similar. Makes a big mess and usually moves the leaves into the street or onto the neighbors property. Usually causes an argument. Hard style.