Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tai Chi Principles for Better Balance

Balance is about our relationship to the world around us and the earth below us.

Balance is more than just good posture; it is a complex system which incorporates:
    the body   the mind    and breath

Gravity is what can pull us down but it is also what holds us up.  If our center of gravity is aligned and low we keep our balance.    

The Body: Head Position
Tai chi training helps us to align the bones of the body in such a way as to stack them like building blocks.
When the blocks are correctly placed,
not only does gravity not ‘pull’ them down; in fact it supports us.                

Creating a Better Habit The body follows your vision. Tai chi Tracking or Scanning is actively looking out at eyesight level to keep the head in alignment with the spine. 

The Body: Feet Position  
The larger the base, the easier it is to keep center of gravity above it and stay in balance. Tai Chi training keeps the feet hip distance apart = a bigger base. 

The Body: Elongating the Spine 3 legs are better than 2.
Raising the top of the head and lowering the tailbone creates a triangle base of  support by moving the center of gravity to the center of our core. We are in balance if our center of gravity is directly above our base of support.

The muscles, joints and tendons are the mechanics of balance. Properly executed, Tai Chi principles of maintaining unlocked joints and not overextending stretch keeps the muscles flexible making adjusting position easier.  
The Golgi tendon organ in the muscles messages the brain to adjust our position.

Slow and continuously moving in Tai Chi
We must ‘find’ the balance in each position.
We can ‘cheat’ balance by moving very quickly, but this is hazardous and we are more likely to fall.

The Mind: Cycle of Fear
Mental relaxation = Physical relaxation
By practicing Tai Chi and feeling balance we gain confidence and this breaks the cycle.

The Breath: Holding one’s breath = physical tension = muscles tense = loss of flexibility = loss of balance. Students are encouraged to breathe gently and regularly and to use exhalation to relax physically even more. 

By following these principles, we can have better balance even when we are not doing Tai chi, this can save alot of inury and lives.