Tai Chi Y2D304: restlessness

I’ve been out of balance with caffeine intake of late, and it shows in restlessness and sleeplessness. I woke this morning a little after 3:30 am from a vivid dream. I slept a little between four and five in the morning, but when the alarm went off I was ready to do tai chi. It’s a good-ish kind of restlessness, in that I feel energized… But it’s also bad; my lack of sleep caused me to ‘crash’ pretty hard on Friday night, and I slept in more than usual on the weekends. Maybe time to limit caffeine intake after noon?

On the other hand, my sinuses are clear. I haven’t been sick this winter or really at all in over a year, and there’s no indication that I will get sick any time in the near future. My weight remains the same as it ever was. No indication at the moment that weight is causing health problems, though.

The big issue in my tai chi these days has to do with toe-touches. There’s a continuing ‘pull’ in my right buttock and leg, which I feel as I bend over, and which causes some bounce. It’s always tight at the start of a tai chi session, and easier by the end. A number of years ago, a friend of mine recommended that I not carry my wallet in my back pocket. She said that sitting on it caused difficulty to the muscles in the area, and put pressure on things that were already under tension. I carried my wallet elsewhere for a while, but then shifted it back to the back pocket. I’ve stopped carrying my wallet there in the last few days, and it’s helped… But it’s certainly not back to normal.

The second issue is the lower part of the obliques, just above the hips. I haven’t felt that these muscles are getting much of a workout, so of late I’ve been trying to pause on bend the bow to shoot the hawk. In this posture, the arms take hold of an imaginary bow, and aim at a target out in front of you. The active hand holds the bow, while the passive hand holds the bowstring. Under ideal circumstances, the body twists so that the active hand out at the end of the rigid arm swings to aim at the hawk somewhere behind and to one side of me, and slightly up.

When I’m doing this casually, what I get is a swing from the shoulders, and the flanks and rib cage come along for the ride. But I think, based on a little experience now, that this is wrong. I think that what’s supposed to happen is that the muscles on the front side of the thigh, and the obliques, and the hips, engage. The twist is generated from these muscles, and the shoulders go along for the ride. In other words, the twist is from the hips rather than the shoulders.

I know I’ve written about this before. I’m writing on a clunky interface and the laptop battery is dead, but I’ll try to figure out where, later today. Part of the point, though, is that it is very hard to engage these muscles in this work. Especially for me, a rather chunky guy. So I have to pause on these twist exercises, and consciously put my attention to my hip, in order to make the turn start from there. It slows me down, yes, but it’s also consciousness-raising.

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