Our Tai Chi online school’s motto is “Breathe and Relax” We always start our day the Tai Chi way, but most people don’t understand what true relaxation actually is. I’ll just start off by saying what it is not. It is not flopping down on the couch with a beer and watching TV. It is not going to an exciting ball game with your buddies. It is definitely not going to see the latest horror flick. All of these activities might be fun, but they are not relaxing.
True relaxation will never include tension — nor is it the same as “collapsing.”
True relaxation resides in the middle ground. Tai Chi teaches us to find that middle ground, and how to cultivate it.
Every day before we start Tai Chi, we do an exercise that opens the joints and tissues in the body. This exercise is called the “Tai Chi Stretch and Warm Up” (jibengong and kaimengong) and is an intelligent way of getting deeper into your body, accessing your fascia (connective tissues) under the skin and tendons, and creating a relaxed, youthful body.
In our “Tai Chi Stretch and Warm Up” online classes, we emphasize these relaxation techniques. Here are just a few examples of what you can learn to do:
- Stretch from your armpits to your breastbone. This action gently massages the second largest cluster of lymph nodes in your body, thereby flushing the area to help maintain healthy breast tissue.
- Stretch from the buttocks straight down to your heels. This action changes the way you use the knees and rebuilds correct structure, changing old pathways to increase support while moving.
- Gently move your collar bones and shoulder blades together, easing that tight connective tissue located in the chest and upper back area. This action gently massages your heart, lungs, and even your kidneys — creating “rest and digest” while you are moving.
In the end, a relaxed and healthy mind and body is the goal. We all want to have fun, but do be aware of the differences between fun and relaxation. And, of course, make plenty of time every day to simply Breathe and Relax.