My teacher used to say, “everything spirals, from the DNA to the Milky Way. Spiral your tai chi, and you will improve.”
I must admit, I always have trouble following this advice except in small spaces, like the guest room at my parents’ home. The ceilings are too low, and there’s too much furniture. As a result, there’s little floor space for floor work of the kind I do. And so moves that are supposed to move in a progression of straight lines, one foot in front of one another in that direction, curve in on themselves. Thus, it’s easy to finish a form or a section of a form, facing in the wrong direction. Yet there are advantages. As the space around you in which to perform tai chi narrows, it’s important to curve or reshape your movements on the fly so that they fit into the available space.
Yet we must also keep track of our starting direction, because we wish to end facing that direction, or at least know how to get back to that spot. Knowing such information helps us keep our balance.