Yesterday in Tai Chi class, one student remarked that she wasn’t breathing. No, it wasn’t an emergency; it wasn’t a health crisis. It was an “aha”, a moment of awareness.
Our movements in class are slow and fluid. We learn to feel and know where are weight is — it is 50/50, equal weight on each leg, 100/0 when we walk, or 70/30, when we move into a bow and arrow stance. Many of us are not aware of how we stand, sit or walk, or where our weight is at any point of time. I help students learn and practice weight-shifting, becoming aware of where our weight is at any point in time. That awareness helps our balance, stability and alignment.
While we practice moves that shift weight, I mention breathing, sometimes in unison as a class and sometimes just breathing naturally, at our own pace. We focus on placing our heel down, then the sole of the foot, then shifting weight onto that leg, all before we even think about picking up the other leg to take a step forward. Sometimes, our mind is so focused on the individual movement, we forget to breathe. We hold our breath.
I often remind students, in the midst of moving, to breathe, just breathe naturally. With practice and increased awareness of our breathing, we learn to move and breathe together, in a very natural way.
Fortunately, breathing is an automatic function in our daily life. Good thing, because most of us would be in big trouble if it weren’t. However, we can increase the quality of our breathing, and therefore the quality of energy flow throughout our bodies with awareness. With practice. It is a wonderful time of year to be outside, taking a walk, riding a bike, watching a beautiful sunset. Next time you time a little time for yourself, take that walk, with awareness of your breathing. Count your breaths, coordinate your breaths with each step or just celebrate the fact that you are breathing, moving and doing something very healthy for your body and mind.