This is a continuation of my Integrative Pain Management series, based on content selected from my chapter of the book Integrative Pain Management: Massage, Movement, and Mindfulness Based Approaches.
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The full pain-fighting benefits of Tai Chi are experienced when the techniques, philosophies, and forms of the practice become an integrated whole. Relaxed and graceful movements, body connectedness and structural alignment, and qi circulation and evoking the spirit. Often, the tai chi master will teach just one of these principles for an entire week, until it has become habit for the student. Only then do they move on.
I encourage you to choose one aspect from the following list each time you practice. Focus on that aspect for the entire routine, and be forgiving if you do not perform the other aspects well. Slowly but surely, each aspect will become second nature.
The Major Principles of Tai Chi Movement
- A relaxed and open body, awareness of the alignment of spine and organs.
- An relaxed and open mind, alert to the body's movements, and its own thoughts.
- A well coordinated and aligned body, in each of the major segments:
- Feet planted firmly, with active arches. The body's weight balanced between them.
- A slight bend in the knees, keeping them directly over the middle toes.
- A gentle tension in the groin and anus, retaining qi through the "small heavenly circle."
- A small drop of the tailbone and "pushing out" of the lower back (not butt). The hips are the origin of all the power and movement in tai chi.
- Shoulders and elbows sink downward, become part of the torso structure and allow qi flow through the hands.
- The chin tucks in slightly and the crown point of the head aims straight up, allowing qi flow through the neck.
- The tip of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth, connecting the main qi pathway.
This list is the guide to body balance. As we read earlier in the series, eastern philosophy diagnosis pain as an imbalance somewhere in the body. When the body can be moved and circulated through a balanced tai chi form, the imbalance that is causing the pain is naturally treated.
With continuous practice, all imbalances in the body are naturally treated and lessened by tai chi.
And that completes my blog series based on excerpts from the book Integrative Pain Management: Massage, Movement, and Mindfulness Based Approaches. Next time on the blog: all new content!