Tai chi Y2D309: illness, footwork, sweat

I came home last night with a sense of bateriological miasma all over me, and a growing head cold settling in my sinuses. I took a shower to wash the miasma off. It sorta helped, but I’d been moving through crowds of sick kids at school for a couple of days. I wasn’t going to fit this one off just with a shower. Vitamin C, lots of water, and some mid-night trips to the bathroom, and I felt like I didn’t sleep well at all. Starting tai chi this morning was a chore. I felt terrible, and I didn’t really want to do the work.

I did it anyway. I was conscious, during Five Golden Coins, that I wanted to use my obliques to pull left and right during picking apples, and during bend the bow I used the same muscles in similar ways but to pull forward and back rather than side to side. The last steady ten days of this is making a difference; my body is responding to the effort by having an easier time with posture issues. I’ve also noted that I haven’t been able to put my hands flat on the floor in a while. My body treated it as Achievement Unlocked, and eventually stopped trying to do that. So I started up again, deliberately reaching for “hands flat on the floor”. I was able to match early efforts of “fingers on linoleum” — which I’m defining as the fingers and knuckles but not the backs of the hands or palms on the floor. So I have a ways to go before I can put hands flat on the floor again.

By the time I finished Five Golden Coins, I was tired and breathing hard, and I was sweaty. Not a little sweat, a lot. I was breaking up the miasma. But the first qi gong routine exhausted me. I had to do a couple of walks around the room to get my heart rate and breathing down to the point where I could continue with Eight Pieces of Brocade.

About three moves into Eight Pieces of Brocade, during as it so happens an obliques exercise, there was a sudden burst of sweat from all over my body, and this haze of gunk and miasma that I’d woken up in suddenly cracked and burst like a shell or a soap bubble. I had broken free of the illness that was trying to grip me. My breathing suddenly stopped being labored, and became easy. I rushed to the bathroom to cough up three sudden enormous gobs of mucus that dropped free from my sinuses into the back of my throat. A gross image, I know, but a genuine relief to me. As I write this, there are residual snuffles, but whatever was trying to gain a toehold in my body feels like its been routed on the battlefield.

I felt well enough, as I ended this second qi gong form, to try doing the tai chi form with footwork alone. This had come up in a recent comment by Lisa, where her group had gone to visit and train with another group that commits to eight weeks of footwork. Going through the footwork part of the form was interesting. I can’t recall doing something like this before under my teacher or in any of the workshops I’ve attended over the years. I had to include some of the body-plane positioning to get the footwork to be correct (or more accurately, I found that the correct positioning of the feet changed the body posture), but I tried to avoid including any arm movements. All in all, I ink it was a success: during several moves, I found that I was stepping too far forward and expanding the size or range of ground that the form covered. And when I performed the forms with body movements a few minute later, I was able to correct a few elements of the movements easily, because of the preliminary footwork run through. I’ll perform this exercise again.

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