To improve breathing, focus, concentration, visualization
• 1 (Tapping the Body)
• 2 (Moving the Clouds)
• 6 (Embracing the Tree)
• 7 (Playing with the Ball of Energy)
As you breathe in you expand the abdomen and let it contract on the exhalation. It may take a while to get the feeling of expanding the abdomen as you inhale.
If you find it difficult you may practice it lying down on your back. This is the way we first breathe at birth, but we quickly change to the more shallow chest breathing.
Abdominal breathing relaxes the body, increases the flow of oxygen and energy to the cells, and increases the level of energy we feel.
Children usually do visualization more easily than adults do and begin to feel the movement of the energy, its warmth and its color very quickly.
• 3 (The Elephant Drinks Water)
• 4 (The Birds Stretch their Necks)
• 5 (The Dragon Eats the Pearl)
• 9 (The Dragons Play in the Clouds)
These movements help to improve flexibility and smooth movement. It is very important to visualize the animal making the movement. When you begin to feel like the animal (young children say they ARE the animal) the movements become smoother, more graceful and more beneficial. As you do the movement you are loosening up all the tight areas of the body so the energy can flow freely, sending nourishment to the organs, muscles and joints. The focus of the mind on the animal improves concentration and relaxation which later carries over to other activities.
Improve Muscle Tone
#11 (The Lion Sleeps) to bring the energy down to the abdomen and calm the breath while still working the muscles in the legs.
Improve Balance and Calmness
All Tai Chi movements relax the body, improve balance, muscle tone, flexibility, concentration and focus.
Good balance is very closely related to the ability to focus the mind. When we balance we keep the eyes open to stare at a fixed spot and concentrate on a root growing from the bottom of the foot. It is not important how high you lift the leg, but the steadiness of the body. Moving slowly and concentrating on the root make a big difference.