Taiji Day 198: Trembling Legs

I did not sleep well last night. I had a lot of school work to do and catch up on, so I made the mistake of having coffee. Overestimated the dose of caffeine I needed, and tossed and turned all night. (Also discovered that evenings are not very productive for verbalized thinking — I can do much visualization, in the form of drawings and designs, but have a hard time with writing and reading, which is what I do for most of the day. I’m already waking at 5 am, and I don’t wish to adjust my schedule any further into the morning; it’s difficult enough as it is…).

But this morning I was out of bed and doing tai chi within minutes of the alarm going off… which means that I did about 45 minutes of tai chi and other exercises this morning. By the end of that 3/4s of an hour, my legs were trembling. Why?

In my office there is a mantlepiece. Over the mantlepiece is a large oval mirror, with the long ends stretched out to the edges of the mantle, and the widest part of the narrower direction is directly over the old fireplace. There’s a bunch of stuff on the mantle — photos of my cousins and grandparents, a photo of my parents, a key fob that belonged to my great-grandfather when he lived in Japan… call it junk, call it ancestor shrine, call it friends and family… what with one thing and another, this stuff cuts off the bottom third of this mirror…

And for most of the floor exercises, I was invisible in this mirror. During one of the first motions of Five Golden Coins, I dropped into horse stance, and found that it was comfortable, so I sank lower. That was comfortable too. So lower I went. And then my head vanished off the bottom of the mirror. Where horse stance is supposed to be.

So I kept on doing the form from there. Sure. Sometimes my head rose into view, usually during the exercises where I’m standing on one foot and kicking with the other. No one learns a Bruce-Lee enter the dragon kick overnight, least of all a 40+-year-old guy with an indifferent 20-to-40 minute practice routine. But even a guy like me can learn a few things, with almost a hundred days of practice.

We can also develop some muscle tone and tendon strength. By the end of Five Golden Coins, Eight Pieces of Silk, and the form, I was trembling nearly all over: body, arms, hands, but especially legs. I worked myself hard this morning. I’m still quite a bit more tingly than I usually am. I’m also, finally, tired.

Just in time to go to work. A lot of breathing exercises may be necessary to get me through today. Wish me luck!

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