How I Improved My Kai Chi Do Practice
My experience of Kai Chi Do has always been about feeling free and having fun. I disconnect from what is going on and just let go. But sometimes I would have a hard time staying out of my head. I realized that when I brought awareness to certain aspects of the process I was able to get more out of it. After doing it for 10 year, I have learned a few things that I feel improved my experience. I thought I would share some of those here.
- I make an intention before I begin: I like to begin the process by directing my energy towards something whether as a prayer to support someone who is in need, whether it be asking for something to be resolved for myself or a way of directing my energy towards manifestation. I always remind myself that I share the purpose of each Kai Chi Do circle which is freedom in each moment and the end of suffering for all beings.
- I stand in the Root Position: Standing in root position is the initial way to begin Kai Chi Do. Root position is when you have your feet hip width distance apart, spine straight with your knees slightly bent. I feel grounded, solid, balanced and strong when in this position. In this position, I spread my toes and feel the Earth beneath my feet so I feel connected to it.
- I change the way I breathe the breaths: Their are two main breaths we use in Kai Chi Do. I used to sound out the sah and aah breaths using my vocal chords but I realized that I get more of the benefits when I use my lungs and the muscles in my abdomen to push the stale air out so I can inhale more fresh oxygen.
- I keep my spine straight: I used to bend forward when doing Kai Chi Do. I thought that it was a way of getting more into it and really pushing that energy to the center, especially during fire. What I noticed was my lower back would bother me. I decided to take what I learned from yoga about posture. I straighten my back so it is perpendicular to the ground and I push my hips forward (tuck my tailbone under) where I automatically engage my core muscles so I feel my lower back supported and there is no curve in my back at all. I bend down more when it becomes more intense but still lean back.
- I keep my arms and hands strong: I never paid any attention to my hands and arms when I was doing the movements. I would just follow along. Then I realized when Charles did the movements, his hands were strong and solid. There is something about being conscious about how you are moving the energy with your hands that is powerful. When I pushed from my lower palms and used my muscles and moved my hands and arms with intention, it felt different. I was better able to get out of my head and into the moment. I felt more connected with the energy of the process.
- I keep my focus on the present moment: It used to take me so long to let go. I would be in my head, worried about what may be going on at home or maybe something I am wanting to get done. I would easily be distracted. Then I learned when I returned to focusing on the movements and the breath, it would take me back to the present moment. I would be able to let go of the mind, the things that were bothering me, and feel the freedom.
- I take advantage that Kai Chi Do is an aerobic exercise: I have learned how to get the most of Kai Chi Do as a practice. It is a way to free blocked energy, a meditation in motion but it is also an aerobic exercise. I found ways to make the most out of it by making my root stance wider, when I bend my knees I go lower, I make all my movements bigger. My meditation became coming to my physical body, paying more attention to the muscles I was using.
- I relax my shoulders: I had a tendency to tighten up my shoulders when I was doing Kai Chi Do. I especially would tighten up when we were in fire, when the music became more intense. When I realized that I did that, I started to relax, still feeling the intensity and moving to the music, I just realized that I could do this while my shoulders were relaxed by coming back to my breath, maybe doing a couple of aah breaths between songs.
- I do Kai Chi Do barefooted: When I am outside, I now do Kai Chi Do barefooted. When I went through my certification as a health coach, I learned about all aspects of health coaching, not just nutrition. I learned about a process known as Grounding. Grounding is when you touch your bare feet on the earth, as a way to connect to it, but it actually has health benefits. I learned that by doing this simple process, it actually neutralizes free radicals in your body which lowers inflammation, promotes sleep and minimizes pain.
- I bring awareness to all the Elements: The elements of Kai Chi Do are Root, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Each element has a place in the process if you pay attention. The Root is where we begin the process. We root ourselves to the Earth. Then we move into air, when the music starts and you feel the music as light and easy, feel the wind blowing on your face and see it as it is blowing through the trees, experiencing it as the air you breath. I feel the fire as the sun, how it shines on everyone, as the heat from when the music is faster and my body starts to warm up. Then we move into water, the music becomes softer, the movements are light and we move with the flow. Also, I pay attention to whether we are surrounded by water, maybe it is raining, the sweat on my forehead, the water that I drink. And finally moving into Earth, where we live, where we reconnect, returning where we began still rooted into the Earth, declaring who you want to be in this world and what you want to share with others.