Modern living tends to disconnect us from our bodies. Most of us work at jobs that require us to sit for long periods of time, process information, and otherwise behave like floating minds barely anchored to the physical realm.
To make things worse, there is subtle messaging always being thrown at us that the body's main job is to break down over time and eventually betray us by producing disease. Alternatively, we are encouraged to treat it like a machine that is either behaving well (producing the right shape / result / numbers on a scale, on medical tests) or not, in which case it needs more discipline.
Here's an alternative: consider that your body is your vehicle for interacting with this beautiful world. Like the most patient of workhorses, it carries you where you want to go and allows you to do, make, or create anything you desire. Its needs are really few: good nutrition, plenty of water, rest, and exercise.
While any form of exercise will help your body, Tai Chi and Qigong are unique in their ability to increase body awareness so you can begin to remember how to enjoy having a body again.
As you perform the gentle range of motion exercises, you bring a focused awareness to each body part. Tai Chi and Qigong movements are initiated from the feet: that initial push against the floor is channeled up through the legs, through the low spine, and throughout the entire body to produce the wide variety of movements. This is how you can move without tension: one little push does all the work for you, so it becomes the job of each muscle group to simply relax and allow the movement to take place.
Moving in this way, you begin to understand how each body part is connected to the next, and how all move through your focused awareness, initiated by one small action. If a body part for whatever reason holds tension or falls out of line, you'll feel it, and you'll learn how to bring it back into alignment.
By learning how to attend to each body part, you'll have a greater degree of awareness when something doesn't feel quite right. This can alert you to the potential for injury, cue you to change how you are moving, or give you a heads up when you've got a cold coming on. You'll also get to experience a much more integrated sense of yourself, an awareness of what feels good and when you just need to get up and stretch.
Doesn't that sound great?
This post is part of a series called What Tai Chi and Qigong Can Do for You. Look for more parts in the coming weeks, or click "What Tai Chi and Qigong Can Do for You" at the bottom of this post.
I offer weekly classes and occasional workshops. For my class schedule and information about fees, click here. For upcoming workshops, click here.