I decided to open my daily practice with a pair of sun salutations from yoga. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s that I gave a large wooden Buddha statue that someone had given me, to my friend Kamala who runs a yoga studio. Maybe it’s that I remembered how valuable my yoga sessions were on vacation last winter. It felt good to energize my body that way, and my lower abdomen and legs needed the stretch of cobra pose. As I did so, I was reminded of my colleague Shelley, who attended a very serious theater school. Every morning at 7am, they held yoga classes; the school’s philosophy was that an actor’s tool was her/his body. If someone missed yoga class… they didn’t perform that night. No matter how important their role in the show, no matter how little sleep they’d gotten, no matter what else… no yoga? no performance for you.
I then proceeded to my regular tai chi workout. I suppose I was slightly more limber from doing the yoga first, but I’m reluctant to mix the two practices much. Even so, I note that a good deal of yoga’s work is in planes —up, down, all in a line; while tai chi is worked in circles and spirals. Interesting.
Today I did 25 push-ups rather than the usual twenty. My form started to give out at the end, but it’s nonetheless time to up my practice to a higher number. I plan to stay at 25 push-ups for several weeks, and then up to thirty, maybe to thirty-five, maybe to forty eventually, or even 50. It’s part of the effort — which basically begins now — to up my practice from a half-hour to an hour over the course of the second half of the fourth year.
I did the two qi gong forms first, which were OK, but not anything particularly special. Sometimes in the midst of these workouts, I ‘feel the burn’ in my flanks — the oblique muscles, which line the sides of the body from armpit to hip. I think these muscles are incredibly important; working them through qi gong is a critical part of my daily practice that I don’t acknowledge enough.
And then eight iterations of the tai chi form. In eight iterations, a lot can go wrong, and does go wrong. There were places in several forms where my balance was uneven. There were times when my level of force, or engagement was off. No matter. I worked up a sweat. I found some energy in the work. It was a good practice.