Saturday, May 28, 2011

T’ai Chi Movements as a Useful Tool for Bodywork

In her recent interview Gagori mentioned that during her own training she learned to practice some basic T’ai Chi movements for better posture.  From the point of view of posture the value of practicing T’ai Chi with regard to improving a therapist’s performance during bodywork, springs to the eye as simply obvious. In this context, two benefits stand out in particular: T’ai Chi teaches the practitioner to move in a flowing, water-like manner, and to always permit the movements to originate from the body’s inherent center of gravity. 

It is clear that when your movements are flowing naturally and through the power of gravity also effortlessly, that the treatments that you give will be more enjoyable to the client.  Your flowing movements translate into the experience of a natural flow in the client.  They may jumpstart his or her own ability to be in and express life through his or her own genuine natural flow.  Whereas your freedom from belabored effort due to going with the power gravity, frees him or her from stress and allows for a deeper and more complete letting-go.  Natural power brings forth natural grace.  Flowing with gravity frees one from being the victim of its downward pull, or fall. 

The same dynamic applies to your giving a treatment.  When your movements flow out of your belly rather than being forcefully set in motion by will from your shoulders, arms, wrists and hands, you will encounter no resistance that makes it difficult to continue.  Rather than being burdened by giving a treatment, you may feel enriched, even empowered and gently exhilarated.

And then of course, you observe the secret instruction (which is not a secret at all) of always keeping your knees slightly bent in the typical basic T’ai Chi stance, while giving a treatment.  This makes sure that you remain grounded in a flowing way, and allow all negative energies to move through you and out.  Were your knees to remain locked when giving a treatment, these same negativities set free by the treatment would remain trapped in your system, your body and your mind, and instead of feeling invigorated after giving a session, you would feel drained.

As present-day master Hua-Ching Ni states, “ In all your movements, whether as a exercise or in daily life activities, the key to success is naturalness.  Nothing about T’ai Chi [or about giving a session of bodywork to a client] is artificial or superficial.  They are deeply related to your natural physiological structure, and how your energy flows through that structure…. Each movement of T’ai Chi describes a circle.  There are no abrupt or radical changes in direction, speed or style.  You just keep making circles: small ones, large ones; horizontal, vertical or slanted ones, in all directions.  All movements can be considered as one movement, because they are connected.  Whether you reach out or gather back. The pattern is cyclical.  Some circles are too small to observe, but in terms of energy flow they are a whirlpool.”

What Master Ni presents as an overall instruction as to how to practice T’ai Chi, can also be read as a perfect instruction for giving a massage or a session in another type of bodywork.  T’ai Chi and bodywork are a perfect marriage, a perfect match.

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