“What makes us stiff,” my Tai chi teacher asked.
He was looking at me, or, self-consciously, I thought he was looking at me. As a class, we were trying to learn the spin near the end of the short Yang form. It hadn’t been going well.
“Fear,” he said, answering his own question.
Besides feeling old and awkward, I was barefoot that day. Should have worn socks, I told myself, when I realized my feet were sticking to the floor, slowing my spin. Actually, I was afraid my feet were going to squeak as I turned. I wanted to go home and practice in private–where I wouldn’t embarrass myself.
A child doesn’t think like that. A child would get caught up in the idea of spinning, and just spin.
Called “tranquility in motion,” Tai chi consists of a series of slow movements that burn more calories than surfing, swimming, or downhill skiing. It is supposed to reduce stress, improve balance, and lower blood pressure–all measures of built-up fear.
How do I end this story?
With a spin . . .
“Don’t try to turn from up top, using the arms,” my teacher said. “That way, you lose your balance. Keep yourself rooted down low and just go round . . ”
So I did.