One of the ways I identity whether a given day of tai chi work has been good or not is how it shifts my breathing patterns. As I write this, I’m sitting on the bed, my knees at an odd angle so I can rest the tablet computer against them, and type on the screen. My belly is rising and falling just under my wrists in this really pleasing way, and the energy of movement is flowing in and out of me through my breath. I feel good.
Actually, I feel great. There was some tension and some pain, pulling sensations mostly, in my right leg as I did knee bends and toe touches during the qi gong forms. The solution to these problems is more stretching of that kind, fortunately. I should also not keep my wallet in my right back pocket, either.
But this rise and fall of breath in my belly — not in my chest and not in my throat — is one of the responses that keeps me coming back to tai chi. When I started two years ago, it was one of the hard bits: my breathing always felt labored. Now it’s starting to feel normal. Natural, even. I’m liking it a lot.