A ‘warming up’ routine is needed before engaging in Tai Chi practice perhaps even more so then other ‘body-work’ routines. The body seems to need to slowly engage the Chi before the energy moves through it in a directed way. I do two things: (1) a routine that works every major joint in my body, and (2) a little stretching via Yoga. The ‘joint’ routine goes something like this:
Stand in a normal Yoga/Tai Chi stance – feet spread about shoulder width, tailbone tucked in (no curve at the end of the spine), knees bent slightly, and hands on hips. Feel as though a string tied to the top of your head is pulling it up straightening the spine.
Roll your head to the side, down, to the other side and back slightly; first one way, then the other. I do it six times each way as with all of the excises that follow.
Roll the shoulders forward, down, up and back forming a circle, then reverse the circle
The next one can be combined or done as individual moves: hold the arms in front of the chest. Roll the wrists in a circle first clockwise, then counterclockwise. The fingers can be moved during this exercise flexing their joints. Likewise, roll the elbows in circles
Put the arms out to the side, shoulder height, then roll them in smaller circles getting wider with each turn, first one way, then the other.
Hands on hips again. Do a hip roll similar to a hula dancer, forward, side, back, side.. Again first one direction, then reverse.
Put legs together, knees touching. Bend over and put each hand on a knee. Now roll the knees in a circle as you have the other joints, one way and then the other.
Stand on one leg, and until your balance is good, hold on to something like the back of a chair. First shake the leg you’re not standing on like you were trying to shake something from your foot. Then rotate the foot and calf the same way you did your hand and forearm earlier. The idea is to flex the ankle and knee. They can be rotated in a circular motion independently or together, first one way and then the other. Lastly, rotate the entire leg, up, side, down, then back the other way up, side, down.
Repeat the preceding leg motions with the other leg.
I follow the above with a few Yoga stretches elongating my spine and stretching my sides. Bending over from the hips like trying to touch your toes is the last Yoga motion I do. It is wonderful in stretching the hips and legs. Details of preliminary Yoga warm up exercises can be found elsewhere at this website.
Finally, before starting Tai Chi practice, I do a hip motion that swings the arms side to side. Stand as in the beginning of the exercises above, knees bent, tailbone tucked, shoulders back, head upright, then rotate the hips back and forth, but do not turn them.
You are merely motioning with the hips enough to cause your arms to swing back and forth where your hands will contact your hips as they swing. This motion sets up a vibration in the body and singles a readiness to practice Tai Chi.
All of the foregoing exercises take about ten to fifteen minutes to do. Their practice before any kind of athletic endeavor will help prevent injuries and soreness.
Tags: athletic, exercises, singles