Taiji Day 31: Tuck the Tailbone

My mother the artist, bless her heart, is always reminding me to stack the spine, one vertebra on top of the other, and tuck the tailbone.  She’s right of course.  In her yoga as in my taiji, it’s easy to leave the tailbone dangling out there — letting it all hang out.  But there’s power and strength in all the muscles around the hips and thighs.  You can’t put that energy to work if you don’t tuck the tailbone.

All sorts of things happen when you tuck the tailbone.  The energy spot that might be called the Tan Tien starts to come alive.  The breath invigorates the self.  The hip twists become easier.  The muscles of the core … curiously enough… stack the lower spine.  The belly starts to pull in, finding a natural wall between pectoral muscles and the crease of the hips (which is not to say the belly won’t get in the way if it’s – ahem – overfull, but the belly wall does tighten).

Keeping track of all of this when moving through the form is difficult.  But by moving through the form with the tailbone in mind, the arms and legs slide through the postures in remarkable ways. They feel like they BELONG in specific spots, as opposed to your shoulders and pectorals putting  them there.  And you can feel when they’re not in the right place.

The body complains about focusing on tucking the tailbone.  Muscles that aren’t normally used get tired.  They want to give up partway through the form.  But in truth, the muscles don’t want to give up. They’re delighted to work.  It’s you that wants to give up, to go back to letting it all hang out. Entropy is easy — the restful garden path to dissolution.

Tuck the tailbone. Discover vigor.

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