Taiji day 106: move the spine

Did five golden coins, eight pieces of silk and the form this morning, but it’s the insight I had into eight pieces of silk that I wanted to talk about today. The thing I was most conscious of was my spine — as the connective and structural support for everything I do. The first exercise, reaching to heaven, stretches the spine longwise. The second exercise, open the bow to shoot the hawk, twists the spine, left to right and right to left. Other exercises, like reach down to touch earth, and neck twists, open and loosen the muscles and tendon groups at the spine’s extremities. The one called punch with angry face is a combination shoulder-and-spine twist. The other cool form, waggle tail and head, is designed to open the flexibility of the hips and neck, as well as the long connective muscles of the back.

This isn’t to say that all of this exercise succeeded today at achieving its aims: only that I felt it, became aware of it, and found myself able to comprehend it. Progress, you know. Not perfection. Or, as Plato said, “the best is the enemy of the good.” I could go into every tai chi session every morning intent on doing my best, but I don’t have to. The goal is gentle change, not awesome radical change too fast, and then a serious injury that stops me cold. No… Best to move the spine slowly, gently, with much heat and much practice. Opening up the spine should be subtle, not gross.

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