Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grasp Sparrow's Tail

You have to love a system like Tai Chi that incorporates whimsical names for its movements: White Crane Spreads Wings, Swallow Skims the Water, Grasp Sparrow's Tail, or White Snake Sticks Out its Tongue, to name a few. Just thinking about them makes me smile.

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art using slow body movements and controlled breathing to improve balance, flexibility, muscle tone, core strength and overall health. For me, it’s a moving meditation.

At home, I listen to Tai Chi music when practicing. There’s always a great sense of well-being and calmness afterwards. I feel my balance is restored.

No uniform is required (just loose comfortable clothes), but here are some things I wear when attending class.

Source: Dub Scroggin

This is my cotton Tai Chi uniform. Practitioners really don’t wear the silk outfits you see in videos or on TV, not practical. In fact, a lot of times folks in Beijing just wear whatever they’ve worn to work to do Tai Chi in a nearby park during their lunch breaks—even a shirt and tie. I like my uniform because it’s comfortable and allows me to move without feeling constricted.

Sometimes I wear my dragon pants with a t-shirt. They are simply embroidered cotton pajama bottoms found on clearance at T.J. Maxx about six years ago. People often stop me and ask where they can get some for their martial arts classes, especially guys. It cracks me up to tell them they’re pajamas.

Although I prefer going barefoot at home or doing Tai Chi on the beach during vacations, I wear cotton Tai Chi
slippers in class. I’m not comfortable going barefoot in a public facility where who-knows-what might be on the floor. You need shoes with smooth soles that won’t stick to the floor.

This video shows the Yang Tai Chi (also known as Taiji) I’m currently learning. You probably saw it being performed in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Dr. Paul Lam designed the form shown in this video especially for people like me who have severe arthritis and fibromyalgia. I took this class through The Arthritis Foundation.

Source: Photo by Dub Scroggin

Off I go to Grasp Sparrow's Tail.


Jennifer said...

I'm so happy for you. It must be such an amazing and rewarding experience.

Anonymous said...

I adore your dragon pants (er, pj's). Those are really cool. I've always had a bit of an interest in learning tai chi, mostly because it seems so gentle and soothing. One of the drawbacks of living way up here in such a remote area is that I can't take lessons in things. Thanks so much for sharing this with us (I like the dark blue outfit you wear also -- did you make that one?)

PS: At this very moment it is minus 34 (yes, 34 below C) so when I see your photos with greenery in the background, I wish I were there! :-D

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Wonderful June! I see people doing Tai Chi in my morning walk in a local park. It has very poetic movements, and as you said all ages and walks of life can join in. Very meditative also.

Thanks for all the links and videos!