I have a bunch of house guests today, and my usual spaces for doing taiji are all occupied. So I did my five golden coins and my eight pieces of silk, and my form in the kitchen.
The kitchen is totally not conducive to tai chi work of any kind. There’s a lot of objects filling the space. There’s the refrigerator, for one, and a big box or two that are stuff for my yard sale later this summer. There’s the kitchen table that was my grandmother’s (yay, ancestor work!), and the four chairs around it. There’s two countertops, one loaded with dried dishes and glassware, the other filled with jars of herbs and oils for cooking. Then there’s the stove, and the rolling butcher-block thing next to it, which isn’t really very useful for anything. Yeah. So not a great space for doing taiji.
And yet there’s value in working within a space governed by limitations. I worked my shoulders more during Five Golden Coins than I usually do, because during one of the maneuvers I swing my arms around, and I had to change postures to avoid banging my fists on the refrigerator door. During the tai chi form, I had to swing my leg more firmly, to get it up over the table. And during Snake Creeps Down, I actually got the chance to see to it that the space under the table was actually clean, and not just the typical mess.
Also, on Tuesdays in particular, I always seem to notice that there’s all sorts of ways to attack and defend yourself with tai chi. Even if there’s lots of people who think it’s not very good at being a martial art. Maybe it’s not. But doing my form in the kitchen, maneuvering around the kitchen table and avoiding getting caught on the fridge or the kitchen sink, I was conscious of the Jackie-Chan-style possibilities that my kitchen afforded. “Break grip on wrist followed by Turn on burner… interesting.” So tai chi — or any practice, really, that’s designed to change your consciousness — when performed in a different room or a different space, actually causes you to see the world differently and consider other possibilities.
So. Do your practice from time to time in crowded rooms that aren’t really suited for it. See what you learn of your practice from doing it in the places that aren’t quite right, and learn what power there is in fully owning your household in all the ways you can.