Taiji Day 270: From the Side

There’s a mirror next to the bed which I use to help me tie my tie in the mornings. It’s a “full length” mirror, but the only way it would be full-length for me is if I mounted it so that the bottom was four feet above the floor.  Ha, “full length” indeed.  Instead, it’s angled in such a way that I can see my face and body while it’s on the floor; it presents a slightly distorted view of me as I get dressed in the morning, but it’s good enough.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I happened to glance at myself in the mirror, and I thought, “that’s odd”. And I looked again.

Most of my life, I’ve had a very prominent belly.  It sticks out very far, and it has a tendency to ruin the line of my pants, or get in the way of my belt buckle, or make my shirts fit weird.  It’s noticeable, and it’s awkward, and it hangs so far out — cantilevered — that it sags.  By the standards of beauty which apply in our society, it’s ugly.  And if it’s apparently ugly on you, then it’s easy to think of yourself as ugly.

But there’s a noticeable difference between how I looked last night, and how I looked, say, half a year ago.  I’m not sure if there’s actually less weight (scale says no, there isn’t) or if I’m just wearing it differently.  The overhanging, sagging sense is gone when I look at myself from the side.  Sure, there’s still a cantilever.  But it’s much less pronounced than it’s been in a long time.  The legs are stronger, and the abdominals are stronger too (Everyone has a six-pack… those muscles are there in everyone, or no one could build them up at all. It’s just that they’re often hidden under the other weight we carry).  My belly is mostly just cantilevered now, not hanging over.

There’s a long way to go.  But as a proof of how much my shape has changed, I was able to put both hands on the floor, all the way to the heels of the palms. Not easily, mind you — trembling, and with tightness.  But it’s a great improvement for me.  A huge improvement. An improvement which has taken 270 days to accomplish.  My mother took a long time getting there with yoga — but then, she didn’t do yoga every day. That’s a three-day-a-week yoga habit for a couple of years.  I’m definitely becoming more limber and more flexible.  And it’s having an effect on my shape and my life.

The thing is — if you’d told me that I was going to get here, when I started out… I’m not sure I would have believed you.  I mean, these motions of tai chi and the related qi gong forms are so light, so easy, most of the time. Sure, there’s a few hard ones like windmill kick that you’d think were invented in the Chinese imperial department of torture, but hey, they work.  I’m nearly 75% through this year-long experiment, and as hard as it’s been sometimes, this “light” and “easy” workout is changing me, a little at a time, thoroughly.

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