Here are a few images that describe alignment which can be used in both tai chi and chi kung… The tai chi classics state the following (keep in mind these are translations):
- The head is upright as if being hung by a string from above;
- Depress the chest and pluck up the back;
- The top part of the body is light and open/the bottom part full.
The first and third involve imagery – which can have a variety of interpretations; while the second is a very poor translation focusing on an “action” – Ed Young gave an exquisite lecture focused on the Chinese characters from that translation. You can see the obvious problem “what can go wrong” with the second. I will share with you how Ed Young translated that principle next week.
Method to the madness 1. The first image is referring to keeping the head upright, the back of neck (jade pillow) open, and letting your mind stretch upward so the spine is lengthened. It is the counter action to relaxing down.
What can go wrong
Be informed that although this may cause an uprightness, excessive force is unnecessary. If you notice a stiffness, holding or frozen appearance or feeling in posture, be advised that the use of this image has become lodged in the muscles and bones and is contrary to what is being “suggested”.
Method to the madness
- Similar to the first, in regards to an awareness of openness at the top and a lengthening of the spine from the bottom, this principle also includes the entire torso. The torso is open and spacious while at the same time the weight of the lower part of the body is weighted down.
What can go wrong
There is no separation between the top and bottom of the body. Both directions happen simultaneously. So although the top part is light and open, it should not be allowed to float unconnected from the lower part of the body; respectively the lower part should not sink away from the top, but acts as a grounding force.