A Tai Chi Walking Exercise
Benefits of Tai Chi Walking
Tai Chi Walking can help to:
- improve one's balance,
- calm the mind,
- relax the body,
- lower one's internal energy, which the Chinese call 'chi' and which, they believe, should be stored low in the body in an area called the Dan Tien - about 2 to 3 inches below the belly buttton.
Where to Do the Exercise
The exercise may be performed indoors or outdoors, the important element is safety - the surface should be flat, non-slippery and free of obstacles and hazards. The larger the space the better, as this allows concentration on the walking without the need for frequent turning. A quiet environment free from distractions is best. Some people like to listen to gentle music or sounds of nature. This is personal preference, but should not distract the mind from becoming quiet and listening to itself.
How to Tai Chi Walk
Tai chi Walking may be performed in bare or stockinged feet (but not on a slippery surface). Low heeled footware may be worn so long as the person's weight is not tilted forward on to the front of the foot.
The exercise involves a slow, deliberate shifting of weight from one foot onto the other. The eyes should be kept looking straight ahead and breathing should be normal.
1. Place both feet together, weight evenly distributed, with the knees slightly bent.
2. Place all the weight onto one leg (this leg becomes full or Yang).
3. Slowly lift up the foot of the other leg which is now empty of weight (or Yin), slowly move the foot forward and to the side and take a natural step. It is important not to over step. The heel should be placed on the floor first, the toes pointing forward. Slowly place the rest of the foot onto the floor, but Do Not Place any weight on this foot yet. Concentrate on the sensation of the floor beneath your foot.
4. As slowly as possible, transfer weight onto the front foot until there is no weight on the back foot (keep the whole of the back foot on the floor) - the back foot and leg can now be said to be empty (Yin) and the front foot and leg full (Yang).
5. As slowly as possible shift the weight from the front foot to the back foot, until all the weight is on the back foot.
6. With all the weight on the back foot, slightly lift the toes of the front foot and turn on its heel for the toes to point about 45 degrees outward.
7. Place the whole of the front foot on the floor and slowly transfer all the weight to the turned-out front foot.
8. Slowly pick up the back foot, move it towards the front foot and then take a natural step forward and to the side - place the heel on the floor first and then the rest of the foot, with the whole front foot now pointing forward.
9. Repeat this sequence from step 4 until you meet an obstacle, then turn to face the other way, as outlined below:
With the front foot turned outward at about 45 degrees, and with all the weight on it, pick up the back foot and place it on the floor above the front foot in order to form a 'T' shape with the front foot.Transfer the weight onto this foot and turn to face the way you have just walked.Continue from number 3 above.
The exercise is far easier to perform than describe. It may help for someone to read the instructions to you.
The mind should be focused on the bottom of the feet. Movements and shifting of weight should be as slow as possible.
When to Do the Exercise
Tai Chi Walking can be done at any time, but may be better when the mind can be focused and the stomach is not too full.
This is a gentle, slow exercise that can be done by almost anyone. However, those with an injury, physical disability or medical problem should seek the advice of their medical practitioner before performing the exercise.