In an earlier blog, we talked about how real power comes from being relaxed while in motion. In Tai Chi, we learn to let the force come from the earth below, up through our bodies and into the push, pull, throw or swing. This is known as moving the body as a unit, or whole body movement. The true force of the movement comes from the DanTian or center of gravity. Tai Chi also improves your proprioception—awareness of your body in space—which will help you more quickly and efficiently.
Now, let’s look at how we can accomplish this based on classic Tai Chi teachings:
Hold your head upright naturally, without stiffness.
Lengthen your spine, which will help you breathe more deeply by using the diaphragm, instead of the lungs.
Roll the hips by dropping the tailbone slightly without moving the legs, both of which should rotate independently of the hips.
Shift your center of gravity from one foot to the other, which helps you distinguish where your weight is.
Keep your shoulders and elbows down, relaxed and open to help achieve and maintain relaxation.
Coordinate the upper and lower parts of the body so that they move simultaneously, with the eyes following along.
Keeps movements circular and continuous.
Release any unnecessary tension and keep the mind open to harmonize the internal and external flow.
Move slowly at first, gradually increasing your speed once you are able to turn lightly without using external strength.
These classic Tai Chi teachings will bring you to a state where your posture is aligned, your body and mind are open and relaxed, and your movements are continuous. The more you practice, the more it will gel and you will able to return to this state more easily. Let stillness control your movements and enhance your performance. You may also find that you will go through your day with a relaxed mind and body!
Bottom line: you can’t force internal power. It’s not a no pain, no gain in Tai Chi.