Walking – none of us can take it for granted when faced with snow, ice, sleet and slushy roads. We know we need to be careful on snow and ice, take it slowly so we do not fall. A Facebook posting, from Willow Tree Tai Chi in Australia, depicts the proper way to walk on ice. The picture and instructions are excellent — the first shows a man walking with his weight split between the front and back leg. The second shows focus on placing the front foot and leg down flat and then centering the weight firmly over that front leg. The center of gravity is right in the center and alignment of the entire body supports standing firm and upright. The post, with a little humor says the penguins have it right. They know how to walk properly on ice.
We practice walking in every Tai Chi class, focusing on the standing leg. We pick up our foot, place the heel down, then the foot, then shift weight to the standing leg. Then we follow with the other foot. We keep our feet and legs parallel, about hi–width apart, and practice, practice walking. This practice enhances our awareness of walking, helps us learn in our bodies where our weight and keeps proper alignment.
It is common to hear my students tell a story of how they prevented a fall, regained balance when going to the outside of a foot, because of their Tai Chi training and walking.
If you are one of my Tai Chi students, I know you are thinking about and practicing Tai Chi walking when you are outside on the ice and snow. If you are not a current student, take a minute or two to try focused walking inside so you get the hang of it. Practice helps us be more mindful when we are walking. It seems one of the biggest reasons we fall is that we are not thinking about our walking. Our mind is elsewhere, not in the present. On these cold, wintery, slippery days, let us promise ourselves to focus our attention on our walking.