The Pitfalls of Engaging Your Core in Yoga and Tai Chi
Do I need to engage my core to get fit and be strong?
My guess is we’ve all heard this question, maybe for ourselves, and from the people we’re sharing with. Not so much in tai chi, or physical activities like running or climbing. But it’s super-common in hard style martial arts, and also so much in yoga.
I think in one way or the other, meeting force with opposing force – flexing and bracing for impact – is a strategy we’ve all used. It’s a strategy that sacrifices one part for another, which is why you don’t find it in tai chi. Because tai chi requires that you keep your opponent, and yourself, from harm. So probably it’s worth exploring a bit, to see where it makes sense, and where it might not.
From a tai chi perspective, part-by-part flexing or controlling leads to a lot of stress and tension, and a lesser ability to do even simple things, much less hard ones. You can discover this easily, just from trying it.
So another way begins with the foundations for how you do everything. And this always begins with the three constant practices in tai chi – mobility, connection, and position.
– Mobility. Soft enough that you’re movable, so you can first be moved easily by your breath and center. And later in tai chi practice, easily by another, so you can give another’s energy directly back to them.
– Position, that supports you easily where you are and where you want to go next. So you don’t have to work really hard just to be here, or go there.
– Connection, of your whole body as one whole body, first so your breath moves all of you, second so your center moves all of you. And again later in tai chi practice, so another moves all of you in a returning circle, rather than breaks one part of you at the end of a line.
These “later in tai chi practice” parts can be especially helpful, because connection with another person has a way of teaching you very quickly if you’re really doing something, and how you can get better.
So we have more good things coming here, including an online tai chi chuan workshop that has an early-bird special right now, and gives a good structure for exploring these foundations of mobility, connection, and position.
As with most things tai chi, it’s our ordinary everyday path to extraordinary life.