Sixteen Days until the end of the third year. Will I make it? Probably, but I have to admit this feels like the longest end-game; like I’m dragging something out. Maybe not, though. There’s usually a rush on completing a year, that gets me started on the next.
Today’s practice was about 8 minutes of qi gong followed by the tai chi form twice: once with legs and arms, once with legs alone. I had to make very few corrections of my stance either way — my body is beginning to adjust to the wider stance, and it likes the wider stance a lot more. Some of the issues that I’ve had with hips and knees go away when my feet are correctly placed. The body mechanics work better, and the result is a higher-quality practice.
There has been a definite improvement in the arm and upper-body work from the qi gong, though. I don’t do it every day, and I need to add it back into my practice. The arms and legs are supposed to feel like one is “moving through water.” This is a high standard: it means engaging the opposing muscles to a movement, and ‘pulling back’ against the desired action. It’s a form of isometric exercise. It’s not easy to do well; watching Dr. Yang and his students doing it two weeks ago; Dr. Yang made it look effortless, while his students were in various states of ease or challenge with it. I’m more at the challenge end of the spectrum at this point, but I feel that I’m making progress.
Breathwork: I’m noticing that I don’t breathe with both lungs all the time. I tend to breathe easier on my left side than on my right; and my breathing usually shifts between right side and left side once during a morning practice. It used to be jarring; now not so much. This morning was a right-side day. When I followed qi gong with meditation, as today and the last few days, I find that the quality of my breathing, right or left, improves. The reverse-breath, where one tightens the belly on the in-breath and relaxes the belly on the out-breath, has really given me a mental workout. This is probably the biggest shift I’m trying to make in my practice; and I think it will take the longest.
I followed up tai chi with a short druidry practice. I’m in the final weeks of my Bardic Grade: I have three path workings left to do and the meditations that follow them (about a week each), followed by my examination and my initiation into the Bardic grade. I prepped for the Ovate grade for more than nine months; now I’ve been an Ovate for something like 14 months. I was hoping to finish for Equinox, but life happens sometimes.