The first video contain instruction similar to how this tai chi form is taught during my classes, the 2nd video is of all the movements joined together filmed from front and back to make it easier for you to learn.
83. Step Forward Side Loops - step forward left leg as your hands loop to the right84. Sink Back, Block & Punch - sink back into right leg, right hand punch85. Step Forward Grasping Birds Tail - hands from left side to right side, then push to cnr, hook right hand86. Single Whip - left hand foot towards left side, balanced87. Cloud Hands- right side, left side, right side, left side, right side88. Single Whip- left hand foot towards left side, balanced
During individual practice it is quite different, you can move at whatever speed is comfortable, you can find and follow your own breathing rhythm. The biggest hurdle here is the misunderstanding on how to breathe; it is common belief that your breathing should be timed with your movements. The problem with this thinking is that it gives a fixed timing to your tai chi movements, in other words they are controlled by your ego. Controlled by your belief that the form should be performed this speed or that, with this thinking it is easy to get into a competition with yourself or others as to who is the slowest, who’s slow form takes the longest to do.
If you are taking one breath per movement, the reality is that you can only go so slow before you either have to hold your breath or use more then one breath per movement. As soon as you do this your movements and breathing is separate, you are not following tai chi principles. Breathing, movement and mind need to be combined as one to get maximum benefit. This sort of control over the form does not allow your tai chi to follow the flow of nature, it is man made and in that it falls short. The reality is that our breath naturally changes throughout the day and we can take advantage of that Article Continued Below.
Our breathing has its own rhythm, when we are stressed it is short and shallow, relaxed, long and deep. Our tai chi practice is designed to make us relax, so naturally during our forms as we relax, our breathing will relax also. This means that the very act of trying to control the length of our breathing stops us from entering deep relaxed states because in itself it is causing inner tension.
To allow our tai chi to follow the flow of nature we need to take a different approach, one that allows our forms to adjust to the natural changing flow within them. To do this we shouldn’t change our breathing to suit our form but our form to match our breathing. This means that the timing of our postures follow the length of our breath, one yin posture follows a complete breath in, the next yang posture follows a complete breath out.
In this way as we naturally relax doing our tai chi, our breath will become deeper and longer, this will then affect our postures which will naturally slow down in time with our breathing. In this way our movements and breathing will always correlate to each other and at no time will the movements become so slow that our breathing and movements become separate Article Continued Below.
With this as a basis we can start to observe how our tai chi itself is constantly changing, as you practice at different times of the day, dependant on your stress and emotional levels, your forms will directly reflect this. Sometimes they will be faster, other times slower, this doesn’t matter because your timing will be correct so you will get the benefits.
The changes in speed in your forms throughout the day then can be used as a way of observing yourself, your relationship to the world and your desire to control. It can be used as a way of observing and coming to understand the interplay between yin and yang. All we have to do is let go of control and let the breathing be. The only interaction we have with the breathing is our observation of it and whether it is normal breathing or reverse breathing. As we become sensitive to the two we can learn to switch between them depending on our energy levels and whether we need to pump up more energy or need to let our mind settle down.
Correct breathing is one of the main supports for our tai chi practice, its function is to pump up and circulate energy, and without it our forms will stay an external exercise and never go internal. We need to learn to combine our breathing, physical movement and mind as one, they become “one timing.” All start and finish together. In this way we will get proper movement of chi, develop understanding and get the maximum health benefits.
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This article was written by Stephen Procter, instructor from Tai Chi Health for Life, Australian College of Tai Chi & Qi Gong and Meditation Instructor from Meditation in the Shire, Kirrawee NSW, Australia. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference / link back to this website, thank you