What is Good Alignment?
We’re going to start your alignment training in a Tai Chi posture called “Wu Chi.” This is a very neutral posture with the feet close together and so we find it’s an easier one to learn the basic principles with.
Once you’ve got this down you need to apply this to every posture in your forms and any position you might find yourself in when you fight.
1. Hang From an silk thread
Imagine that you are hanging from an invisible silk cord cord that is lifting your body gently upwards and straightening your spine. The idea here is to feel buoyant like a ball floating on water and yet gravity is pulling your body weight down.
The cord attaches at the top and back of your head directly above the spine. Every other part of your body is hanging.
At first just stand this way and after you have practiced long enough that you can easily get into the feeling of this posture then see if you can walk around this way. Getting the feeling of the Invisible Thread is very healthy for the body as it aligns your posture and allows the energy to flow unrestricted.
2. Shoulders Hanging & Relaxed
Raise only your shoulders as high as you can so that you can feel the effort of holding them up. Then let the shoulders drop and relax as much as possible while breathing out to help to get the shoulders completely hanging and relaxed without tension.
If you are really standing with the shoulders correctly relaxed and hanging then It should be easy to swing the arms a little just by swaying the body back and forth. Also, the arms may feel a little heavy.
3. All Joints Slightly Bent & Relaxed
A simple way to help get the right position for this is to stand up straight and rigid then let go and relax everywhere just enough so that no more excess tension is being held anywhere in the body. In other words it feels like you just relaxed every part of your body.
Then sink a little and relax again the same way about another quarter to half inch everywhere. This should put you into the correct posture.
4. Eyes Relaxed & Look Slightly Down
The eyes are about half way between open and closed and very relaxed while looking slightly down. This helps to conserve energy and it actually increases the field of vision and helps make it easier to quickly perceive motion.
5. Relax & Drop Down the Lower Back
The ideal situation is to have the lower back drop so that there is no bend between the middle of the back and the bottom of the buttocks. This often takes work on the part of the beginner to get it right and may well require the assistance of another person.
It is possible to help develop this posture by stepping back against the wall so that the back of your heels are against the wall and placing your back flat against the wall and trying to get your entire back from the middle of your shoulders to the bottom of the buttocks on the wall.
After this can be done with comfort then step away from the wall and maintain the flat back position.
6. Spine is Pulled Straight by Gravity
Strive to keep your body weight under you and pulling down by keeping the head pulling up as if it is being pulled up by a bungee cord and the body is relaxed and the weight of the body is relaxed and dropping so that you feel the weight of your body as if hanging from the bungee cord.
7. Point Index Fingers Straight
Point the index finger while staying relaxed and keep the rest of the fingers relaxed and not bent but not particularly straight either.
8. Breathe In & Out From Belly
The beginning way to breathe is to breathe in and out from the belly. This may be a little difficult at first but it will become much easier with practice.
If you have never practiced belly breathing before it may be easier to learn to belly breathe by practicing the following exercise by itself first. Push into your belly with your fingers. When you breathe in use the air to push the belly out and move your fingers out of your belly with the air.
9. Tongue Lightly Touches Roof of The Mouth Behind the Front Teeth
The tongue lightly touches the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth while keeping your mouth closed.
Lightly means let the tongue rest there while keeping the mouth closed and breathe in and out through your nose.
This will connect the energy circuit between the Ren Mai and Du Mai Governing and Conception Vessel meridians causing the energy to flow without interruption. One of the first effects you may notice from this is that you will have more stamina.
10.Weight is slightly to the Front of Center over the Feet
You do not have to bend and drop into an uncomfortable position while you practice standing in Wu Chi.