Today was much harder than yesterday, but a quality workout. I’m still trying to obey the insight from a few days ago, that I should try to do a four-count of breath on each movement of the form in order to slow down my practice toward tortoise speed. I find that I have to breathe in-breath-out-ONE, breathe in-breath-out-TWO, breathe in-breath-out-THREE, breathe in-breath-out-FOUR to really keep things at the pace that I would like. Today’s form took from 5:48 am to 6:15 am. That’s pretty good! There were a couple of places where I was not able to maintain the breathwork, and which will require some adjustment, somehow. I would say that these are during the Golden Pheasant movements and the kicks, which I think of as being about halfway through the form. I am sweaty, but not as sweaty as yesterday (despite it being warmer today than yesterday).
If I had one serious challenge today, it would be in managing the four-point turn on the quartet of movements called Fair Lady Works the Shuttles. I just stood up as I went through this movement, and it’s actually twenty-three separate postures before it comes to the next named movement in the sequence as a whole. Some of them are very simple, like a 45° shift from the position of a foot over here to a foot position there, where all that shifts is the toe or the heel. Sometimes its a shift of the weight from right hip to left hip or vice-versa. Sometimes it’s a serious shift of body weight from this side to that side.
I THINK I could break it down to the point where each of those moves required a four-count of breathwork. But I’m not sure that it’s worth the effort. It’s probably better for me to focus on getting a four-count breath count for the four named movements. As the action is a quartet of strikes to the four corners of the room, doing a four-count for each is probably ok. But I was aware that I was… I was going to say rushing, but I realized that wasn’t the right word… moving for more movements than I actually was breathing for. And yet I was going slow enough. This one requires some more thought, and maybe I should insert more breathwork into this part of the program.
I took Lostinmist’s suggestion in the comment from the other day, to not worry (yet) about putting my nose on the floor, but simply to worry about getting the push-up form mostly correct by making sure the butt doesn’t wobble or bend too much. Today was the most successful day yet, and I felt comfortable doing 15 push-ups rather than just ten. There happens to be a mirror over the old fireplace in my office where I do tai chi in the morning, and I happened to see my arms in a new light today — the push-ups are paying off, I’d say!
Astute readers will have noted that I have started a new series of posts, about my work with Alice Waters’ cookbook, The Art of Simple Food. I worked with this cookbook a long time ago, to learn a few recipes, and now I’m ready for a few more. Even more astute readers will note that the entries are not appearing at the same time as the photographs are taken. I’m making more food and sauces ahead of time, all of a sudden, and the result is that I’m not always writing about particular foods until I’ve tasted them. Also — it’s food. I am making a point of staggering the entries in this blog’s scheduling system so you don’t get six posts in a day and then nothing for weeks. I’m thinking about the new emphasis on food, though, as part and parcel with my tai chi practice, and my druidry — it’s a way of beginning to align my practice of a martial art with what I put in my body, and how I think about my relationship with the land. Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t.