Tai Chi Y3D50: Correct Posture

Correct Posture. That’s a verb, that word correct, not an adjective.

What I mean is this: every single posture that you adopt, it’s important to adjust a few things:

  1. stance: are your feet in the right place?
  2. Knees: which knee is supposed to be straight? which one is bent?
  3. pelvis: is your pelvis tilted in and is your spine straightened?
  4. head: where is your head relative to your body?  Is that where it’s supposed to be?
  5. shoulders: now that your head is in the right place, are your shoulders hunched or relaxed? Relax them.

I find that doing the breathwork that I’ve been able to do for a couple of weeks now, has given me the capacity to work through the form with these five things in mind. They’re the big rocks in the glass jar — you know the metaphor?

A philosophy professor has a big glass jar in front of his class, and he has some big stones, some pebbles, some smaller pebbles, some tumbled stones, some sand, and two cups of coffee.  He asks the students if the jar is full.  They say no; so he puts the big rocks into the jar.  IS it full now? No? put in the pebbles. Full now? No? Now the smaller pebbles, and then the sand, and then finally the two cups of coffee.  “the big rocks are the big things in your life,” he says, “the pebbles are the major projects, the smaller pebbles are the weeks-long efforts, the sand is the daily grind; don’t forget to make time for a cup of coffee with a friend.”

Besides being a terrible metaphor, and the sort of thing that my philosophy professors would never have done, EVER IN A MILLION YEARS, it’s also true that it’s taken me a couple of weeks of really slowing down to realize that I now have the time to check these four things on every posture.  And when I do, I have a qualitatively different experience.  It’s harder to do so, but it’s more deliberate and more specific.  And I get much clearer results — my energy feels cleaned out and ready to face the day.

It’s ironic how close this is to the old children’s rhyme-game, Head, Shoulders, Knees and toes, knees and toes! It does seem to be that you should check the head posture first, though, and then do the shoulders.  Otherwise, when you move the shoulders, and then the head, you have to readjust the shoulders to the new head position.  Tricky.

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