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Tai Chi
Morning Ritual

17 May 2010
Do you have a morning ritual? Aside from the obvious daily preparations - showering, shaving, dressing, applying makeup - do you have a morning regimen of meditation or exercise? If you are intent on making Tai Chi Chuan a pillar in your life, then you will find great benefit from starting first thing in the morning.

Some people rely on Tai Chi in the evening to de-stress, to unwind after a difficult day at work. There is great value in using Tai Chi in that fashion. But if you can find time to do even a little Tai Chi, or qigong, or standing meditation first thing in the morning, you will discover that the need to de-stress in the evening will be much less.

An important part of your morning ritual should involve stretching. Yoga asanas are useful for this, but you have a lot of choices. Your choices should be based on your need: while you practice Tai Chi, notice what parts of your bodies are the tightest and least giving. Focus your stretching on these areas. This can include your neck, calves (hamstrings), thighs (quadriceps), your arms, your fingers, your hip tendons, your lower back, your kua, and even your feet - all depending on you. We all have different sets of challenges, but with a lot of commonalities.

Another important element is breathing, standing postures, and some light qigong designed to quiet your internal energy. Of course, you want to practice your form as well, once you learn how to make time.

Another part of anyone's training regimen should include strengthening and conditioning, whether with weights in the gym or Chinese poles or something else. It is not so important for this to be part of the morning ritual - just as long as you fit it in somewhere.

If you are naturally a morning person, someone who retires and rises early, creating a morning ritual may not be difficult for you. It is tougher for the folks like me who are naturally inclined to stay up late and sleep until the last moment. If you sleep until the last moment, there is never time for a morning ritual! Something has to give.

I solved the problem by paying attention to my body's signals. I realized that often I stayed up late as a sort of compulsion, not because I was still feeling awake and energized. I learned to pay attention and take sleep as early as my body told me to. As soon as I did that, I started rising early and easily finding time for training. Anything is better than going to work early!

And so it begins. Program your mind, and your body will follow.


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