03 September 2011

Taoist Tai Chi


The main objective of the Knoxville branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society is to promote the health improving qualities of taoist tai chi. Tai chi incorporates slow stretching, weight shifting, and body turning, into a continuous sequence of gentle movement, which, after sustained practice over time, improve the health of body, mind, and spirit.
The gentleman in the image is in the midst of a tai chi set. This particular movement is called move hands like clouds, and it’s the one repetitively sequential lateral body motion in the set. Its proper name is enchanting, to my western ears, and it’s typical of many specific movement names that come from nature. I’ve learned to see, feel, and know the intentionality of this man’s hands and arms. There is no floppiness in him despite the static image. His right hand and its cupped fingers look and feel as if lifting an object. His left arm, hand open, palm out, is poised. The head is turned, opposite to the arms and hands movement, anticipating change. In a moment his torso and head will rotate and his arms and hands will move like clouds across his body in a continuous motion. Move hands like clouds is one of my favorite motions. It’s relaxing to do and lovely to see.
A person watching tai chi sees the body in a constant gentle motion. Learning tai chi movements is within a group. A person doing tai chi is aware of their body’s movement and of its motion in relation to others in the learning space. Once learned tai chi is practiced alone and/or in a group. Awareness of tai chi is taught, amended, re-learned, discussed, and practiced again and again over time.
The result of practice over time, some like it so much they call it playing, is invigorated concentration and a calm consciousness of mind. Your body feels increased circulation, improved balance, tendon flexibility, and heightened muscle strength.
The sustained and regular practice of tai chi reaches deep inside your body to benefit your entire physiology. Practicing tai chi cultivates peace of mind, restores calmness, and sustains your spirit. It facilitates your awareness of your energy inside the boundaries of your body and mind. I find these to be the benefits of tai chi as taught by the Knoxville branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society.

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