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34 EXERCISES

1. LIFTING ARMS

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Quick Links to Postures 1-17 | 1 Lifting Arms | 2 Opening the Chest | 3 Painting the Rainbow | 4 Separating Clouds | 5 Rolling Arms | 6 Cloud Hands | 7 Raise the Ball | 8 Carry the Moon | 9 Pushing Waves | 10 Loosening the Trunk | 11 Touch the Sea, Look at the Sky | 12 Rotate the Wheel and Point at the Moon | 13 Parting Wild Horses Mane | 14 Brush Knee and Push | 15 Grasp Sparrows Tail | 16 Fair Lady Weaves Shuttles | 17 Punching


STAGE 1: SEATED

It is best to sit in a chair with no arms as these may get in the way of your movements. An ordinary hardback chair will by okay for most postures.

Sit in a relaxed state with both feet placed flat on the ground directly in front of you, facing forward. Place your back against the back of the chair. Rest your hands lightly on top of your thighs, just in front of your knees.

Now to begin "Lifting Arms" posture:-

Inhale

Raise your arms in front of your body, keeping the arms straight but the elbows slightly bent, palms facing down. Raise your arms to shoulder height, at shoulder width.

Exhale

Lower your arms back to rest on your thighs, just in front of your knees, palms still facing down.

IMPORTANT POINTS

The techniques and visualisations outlined in this first exercise are applicable for all the exercises.

Developing Fluidity

The wrists, hands and fingers should be relaxed but straight. The wrists should become flexible as an expression of fluid movement. Here is how this is achieved. Imagine, as you raise your arms, that you are deep underwater and that the water pressure is pushing down heavily against the back of your hands so that your hands and fingers are forced downward slightly by this external force. Then as you lower your arms the imagined water resistance pushes upwards against the palms so that the wrists again become flexible and cause the hands and fingers rise above the wrist slightly.

Visualisation is the key to attaining the graceful pliability of movement in Tai Chi. Visualisation is not a totally "visual" experience. It involves many senses. The most important is the sense of (imagined) touch. You must imagine (feel) the resistance of the water pushing against your arms. You must "struggle" against the thick imagined water - but it's not a physical struggle; there is no tension in your arms, hands, wrists or fingers. It is a mental struggle. This imagined resistance is designed to prevent you from consciously moving your muscles. You react to an external force while moving your limbs. Follow this method and you will eventually develop pliability and flexibility. The imagined external resistance is actually real because you are creating it with your mind. If you try to consciously and deliberately move wrists from "inside" the body it will be a physical and mechanical movement, not natural and fluid.

Repetitions

Repeat this posture several times. This also applies to every other posture. There is no set number of repetitions. Half a dozen is a good starting point. Since you will ideally be performing many different exercises in a single session you will not have time to practice more than about six repetitions of any of the postures.

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STAGE 2: STANDING STATIC

Stand with feet at shoulder width, feet parallel, toes facing directly forward, hands by your sides.

You now proceed exactly as you did in the seated posture. Inhale and raise the arms then exhale and lower them. Do not move the legs, feet or hips during this stage.

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STAGE 3: STANDING WITH FOOTWORK

Many people will find great benefit from practising the seated and / or standing static versions of this exercise. There is no need to perform any footwork for the most basic benefits. However, the more energetic wishing to receive more of a physical workout with this posture can perform the "Chinese Squat". Refer to these notes for the footwork method.

APPLICATION

Applying the footwork to the posture:-

Stand with feet at shoulder width and parallel, toes facing directly forward. Legs should be straight with knees slightly bent.

Perform the torso movements as in the seated stage with these additional steps:-

Inhale and lift the arms with no movement but as we exhale and lower our arms we go into a Chinese squat.


NOTES

Lifting Arms posture is taken from Shibashi (18 Breathing Exercises).

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© 2018 Michael Davies