Effortless, mindful movement with tai chi - a daily primer for your busy day
In our hectic, modern world, stress and anxiety can form a big part of our lives and influence how we work, play, interact and move. As you are probably aware, with daily stress impacting our lives, we tend to tense up and move in a more robotic fashion at best, and at worse causing injury or pain due to muscles being unnecessarily activated when they should be relaxed. We may also experience pain such as tension headaches and sore shoulders and necks. And so it is important to regularly relax the body and experience gentle flowing movements such as tai chi which will allow us to move in a focused, mindful way without putting further stresses on the muscles. One way of achieving this effortless movement is by using the legs to generate power. The reason for choosing this is because the leg muscles are the strongest muscles in the body so we can generate a lot of power for relatively little effort - consider how easy it is to move across a room using our legs compared to using our arms or fingers! And because this is so easy to do, we can relax the rest of the body - core, chest, shoulders, spine, arms and hands. We can activate the leg muscles to move the torso and the other body parts will follow without needing to be activated simply by applying a bit of pressure to drive the force up from the ground. Example exercise The best way of understanding this is by experiencing it through an example exercise which can be done by anyone irrespective of physical fitness.
Find a space on flat ground where you won't be disturbed and can't touch anything or anyone with your limbs.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hands by your sides.
Keep your torso, chest and arms relaxed, your chest slightly concave and your arms hanging at the sides like rope attached to your shoulders.
Now begin slowly twisting your hips in each direction, using your legs to create the movement, rather than turning your shoulders to create rotational movement in the upper body.
Speed up the twisting to get the arms moving, making sure that you're not activating the muscles in your shoulders or arms to deliberately move/control them.
Repeat while observing what happens to your hands and arms as you increase the twisting power from the legs.
You should find that the more powerfully you twist, the bigger the arc that is created from the passive swinging of the arms. Using this exercise, you should find that you are more easily able to identify tension in your body from having muscles that are activated when they are not being used. Next steps If you would like to know more about achieving mindfulness through movement then please
visit Darren Yap's website: http://www.wimble.com
Darren and Nicky are collaborating on a Natural Movement Workshop on Sat 16 Mar. We will be exploring the principles behind tai chi and strala yoga. See the Events Page for more details and to book.