Today is day 32 of my 100 days of Tai Chi program. I have to say, it’s getting easier to master the form. The trick is to go slow, rather than fast. If I go slow, the second half of the routine is chi-infused. I start to sweat, my hands and legs tremble, and I genuinely experience the force and power of the exercise. When I go faster, I don’t get that energy rush. While the effort isn’t wasted, it is less effective.
Today I was able to go slow for the first half, and so I did start to sweat. However, I was unable to retain that level of concentration past Box Ears With Fists, which I’m guessing is more or less the midpoint. There has been some definite improvement in my physical coordination: it used to be very hard to do Needle on the Sea Bottom and Snake Creeps Down, but both actions are becoming much easier.
I still have some wobble in my posture on a movement as simple as White Crane Spreads Wings. It’s kind of exciting and worrisome at the same time to notice the tricky slip that comes as the hands change position; if you don’t have control over your weight distribution over something as basic as that, you need work. I still need work, apparently.
For the first time in a long time, I tried doing the reverse of the form: the left hand path. This was trickier, and I had to go slow enough that I could make sure my hands were in the right position, but fast enough that I could easily remember what came next. This came out of my conversation with Jay on Wednesday, when we talked about how the form could be one’s teacher. While doing the form over the first month, I’d noticed how all the exercise seemed to accrue to the right-hand side, and I should also do the left-hand side. So today is day 1 of trying to do the left-hand side, and I’ll keep at that; but it will be hard. My hands feel ‘wrong’ when they’re doing Press with right hand pressing on left. That will take some effort to even out.
There have been some definite benefits to doing this workout every day. My arms seem stronger; I know my legs are. Posture has improved. I think the biggest improvement has been in my core. Running every day (or most every day — I skipped yesterday because of the weather) certainly helps with that, but I also know that the lateral muscles on either side of my torso are stronger, because I have more control over whether my belly hangs in, or out.
Maybe I shouldn’t talk about this part, but it’s interesting to me. Dr. Bloom pointed out that fat cells store all sorts of toxins, and that when we burn fat we have to rid ourselves of those toxins. Some of them come out through the kidneys and then into the urine, because the body doesn’t push junk back into the intestines. Many of them come out through the skin, either in our sweat or as pimples. About two weeks ago, I had a huge number of pimples — not on my face, but on my body: arms, belly, back, and thighs were most prevalent. Exactly the places where I tend to store a lot of fat. Imagine that. At the moment, they’re all cleared up. Why? Apparently I’d burned some fat, released some toxins from storage, and pushed them out. The more of this exercise and this work I do, the less often it will happen. This is especially true if I also combine my exercise with dietary changes, which — barring the holiday overeating — I’ve been doing.
So, the summary of the first month of tai chi is — “this is going great, there’s definite progress… keep going.”