There are three basic postures applied in standing exercise in Tai Chi Chuan. These exercises are taught to beginners and also act as auxiliary exercise for every level of students.
BENEFITS OF POSTURES IN TAI CHI CHUAN
As a person gets older, the part of the body that weakens first is the lower limbs - the legs. Elder people with fragile legs are prone to slipping and falling which more often than not causes injuries.
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, published in one editorial a scientific research supporting that the practice of Tai Chi Chuan provides ample benefits in reducing weakness and falls in older persons and helps in maintaining balance and strength.
The practice of stances in Tai Chi helps develop toughness to the lower appendage of the body and at the same time provide the “rooting” necessary for maintaining balance. Although postures seem to appear simple and basic, it is certainly one of the most difficult exercises to master. In each posture one goes thru the path of self-discovery and awareness of the mind; understanding of one's physical imperfections and eventually, leads a person to the compatibility of the mind and body.
There are three basic postures applied in standing exercise in Tai Chi Chuan. These exercises are taught to beginners and also act as auxiliary exercise for every level of students. Even at the advance level of exercise, one begins with a period of a calm standing - the position of primal energy. When the person stands still in this position, with his body correctly aligned, he is absorbing chi energy from the earth and accelerating its flow throughout the body.
The three basic postures of stances are Standing Posture, Holding Posture and Empty-Hand Posture.
In the Standing Posture - one must take into consideration the following guides:
? Your eyes should stare forward and a little downward
? Drop your chin a little so that your throat is not pushed forward. No tension in your neck.
? Let your arm hang loosely and relax. Drop your shoulders and elbows.
? Relax your hips and stomach in. Let the bottom of your spine unfold downward so that neither your belly nor your bottom is sticking out.
? Stand with your feet at least a shoulder width apart.
? Inhale and exhale gently through the nose. Do the diaphragm breathing. Your mouth should be closed but not tightly shut. Exhale completely and allow your chest to drop. Always remember to touch the tip of your tongue to your upper palate as you practice Tai Chi.
? Relax your fingers. Allow them to curved gently and remain slightly apart.
? Unlock your knees and bend them slightly.
In the Holding Posture, it forms the basis for many of the more advanced movements, and speeds the inner circulation of energy through the feet, up through your entire body and to your hands and head.
In this posture one should take note of the following;
? Slowly bring your arms upward and forward to form an open circle in front of your chest at about shoulder level. Your open palms facing your chest.
? The tops of your thumbs are not higher then your shoulders. Your wrists are as wide as your shoulders. Your elbows are slightly lower than your wrists and shoulders.
? Imagine that you are holding a ball between your hands, forearms and chest. You are gently keeping it in place without stress. It is resting naturally on the inner surface of the circle formed by your fingers, palms, arms and chest.
? Maintaining this position helps build up physical and mental stamina.
? Both legs are slightly bent. Now, your lower limbs carry your weight and you will feel tension on your leg muscles. Hold for a minute and adjust accordingly how you can manage, but remember not to strain your leg muscles.
? This position strengthens, brings stamina, balance and “rooting” to your feet that reduces unnecessary falls
The third standing position s the Empty Step Posture. This position assumes one of the movements found in Tai Chi form. Hands play the Lute. The formation of this posture gives one a feeling of how to shift your weight properly from left to right and vice versa. This posture is also the basis for defensive and offensive movements of Tai Chi Chuan.
In Empty Step Posture one should consider the following guidelines;
? Your forward leg should be slightly bent and only half step away from the supporting legs. The heels of the forward leg touch the floor, while the toes are slightly raised.
? The left arm should be raise at the level of your nose with open palm inward. The right arm is slightly raised with the right palm open inward. Both palms are open inward.
? The principles applied in Standing Posture are likewise used for this posture. The entire weight of your body drops down to the supporting leg. An imaginary triangle forms your left palm, left toes and the tip of your nose. Your shoulders, elbows and hand are aligned to your waist, knees and foot respectively.
Teachings from Sensei Mann - my Tai Chi teacher