Recently I was working with one student in one of our Tai Chi classes, and she was expressing how she was “stuck” on a certain move in the health set. More specifically, she couldn’t keep her balance when standing on one leg in this one spot in the set. She could balance on that leg in other spots, but just not in this one place, about half way through the set.

This sort of thing usually screams out to me that her posture is off for some reason. Taking a closer look I was able to confirm my suspicions. We usually adhere to the rule of stacking the head, shoulders and hips over a foot when trying to balance only on that leg. This student was not stacked properly, which was causing her to be out of balance.

Over time the strength in our stabilizer muscles will increase, which will allow us to muscle through the balance in something like the above. The proper way of balancing though, is to be stacked as described above. This allows us to use our muscles as little as possible, and it uses the alignments of bones, and the strength of the tendons to support our body.

Tai Chi may not be alone in this, but we use this rule throughout the health set. Making this a normal daily practice creates a lasting feel of controlling our balance. Once we can replicate this regularly in the set, we can then incorporate how we move in Tai Chi (stacked and balanced at all times) into the rest of our lives. 

When we’re standing in a line, we are thinking of our head, shoulders and hips stacked over our feet, with our knees slightly bent. Or, when we walk down a side walk, we can feel that fluid stacked-ness of our body while moving. Once we start enjoying this, we can start relaxing through it, making it easier and easier to succeed at this each day.

Shifu Daniel Cimino

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