The following is an excerpt from my book Sunset Tai Chi: Simplified Tai Chi for Relaxation and Longevity.
Once you finish with the arms, move to the ankles and try to pulse through the ankles. Pulsing the leg joints will create different sensations. The arms do not bear weight but we do bear weight through the legs, and that totally changes the sensations.
Alignment and weight distribution are the keys to accessing all the ligaments in the ankles. First, we have four major ligaments that we want to create an even stress on between the foot and the bottom part of our leg; two ligaments in the front and two in the back. If you have the weight on the ball of the foot, you will feel the stress on the front ligaments while the back ones will be loose or free of stress. Now if you shift your weight to the heels, you will change the sensations of stress. The heels will now bear the weight that will generate stress on the back ligaments and will loosen the two front ones. If you allow the soles of the feet to collapse sideways, you will lose the alignment and lose the ability to isolate the pulsing in those four ligaments.
Make sure you distribute the weight in the middle of each sole of the foot. Do not collapse inward or push outward. Maintain the alignment, and then enjoy the pulsing, pumping, and shaking to a much higher level. While doing so, you also will be preventing injuries. Alignment of the ankle is very important. Much practice and work in the different postures and movements needs to be done to understand and experience the ankle.
Next, move into the knees. Make sure you bounce the weight through the knees, right into the floor, and not into the knees. If you do it right, and your weight moves through the knees into the floor, you may be able to vibrate the whole floor of the room. You need wood floors to make this happen. If the weight moves into the knees, you will not be able to create that vibration of the wood floors. Moving weight into the knees is not good for them. The knees are not meant to be weight-bearing joints.
Then move to the hips. They, like the shoulders, have many strong and different sensations. The reasons are first, both the shoulders and the hips are the biggest joints in our body; second, the hips and the shoulders have the most range of motion in contrast to all the other joints in the body. The three major postures or positions that allow us to sense the various different sensations in the hips are as follows:
First posture: While pulsing and pumping, bring the pelvis forward by tucking in the tailbone.
Second posture: While pulsing and pumping, stick the tailbone back and slightly out. You are coming out of alignment in this posture but in this case it is okay.
Third posture: Once you pulsed and pumped with the pelvis back and in the front, find the middle between the two, dropping the tailbone down but not tucked in like the first posture, and not pushed back like the second.
Of course, again, like the shoulders, each hip joint can be isolated by itself. By shifting all your weight to the left leg, you can isolate the right hip joint or you can direct the pulsing to the left hip joint with the weight on the right leg.
These exercises give you a way to create different sensations in the hips. Over time, you should find and explore other postures that lead to other sensations and new experiences.
Next week, we will give you the how-to for shaking the spine, neck, and jaw.
Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!