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Stress is bad news. Often time our psychological stress from the interactions of the day, mixed with our physical stress from overwork or sedentary positions, leads to muscle tension and pain. Learning ways to reduce stress and pain are essential to wellbeing. One simple method is found in China’s ancient exercise known as Tai Chi.
In today’s video article my friend Elena Borkland, herself a much accomplished artist and Tai Chi teacher, will show you a simple arm swinging and waist twisting motion that will help you relax, revitalize and reduce stress, pain and stiffness. You don’t need not be a tai chi master to gain the benefits from its practice, and it’s super easy so give it a try!
Begin in proper posture
Start by standing with feed slightly more than shoulder’s width apart. Flex your knees and open the space between the legs, in a position like you are sitting down (but not nearly that low). You back should be held straight, not hunched or curved. And your head should be balanced over your neck, held evenly between the shoulders, and light and upright as if being suspended by a thread (as the Tai Chi classics tell us).
The simple side-to-side swing method
From here, simply shift your weight and turn your waist as you do so, allowing your arms to swing freely in tandem. As you swing your arms loosely from side to side your weight will shift from one leg to the other. This motions should be relaxed and light and fun—not stressed or tight or forced in any way. Try your best to remain on the same plane by not letting your head raise up and down as you turn side to side.
Once you have set a nice cadence and groove with the simple side-to-side, you can help relax the body even more by adding a second twist to each end. This means, for each weight shift into the other leg, you will remain their long enough to twist twice. The first swing occurs as you are shifting your weight and the second as your weight is over the leg. See video for the details. It is easier to do than to describe.
Three swings a charm
Now we can vary to do three swings per shift. As with the above, the first swing helps you move from one side (or leg) to the other. The second and third swings happen with weight over the leg. Each time you swing in a given direction you will want also to allow your waist to turn you freely in that direction. Your arms, while remaining relaxed, will also swing freely in response to the weight shift and waist turns. Watch the video for the details.
Time and details
There is no real time limit to performing these Tai Chi arm swings; it depends on your needs and preference. However, the more frequently you do them the better you will be able to do them, the less stress you will have and the more relaxed and supple your body will become. The relaxed turning and swinging will do wonder for the spine, shoulders, and lower back. Not to mention improving balance and muscle tone in the legs by holding the stance and shifting your weight while keeping your feet firmly planted on the floor. And of course, the longer you do these the more lung power and cardiovascular endurance you will achieve. Have fun and reap the benefits of this simple exercise from ancient times.