a breath of fresh air. . .

by mulberryshoots

Last night, driving through slushy snow, I went to a Tai Chi class to see if I wanted to sign up for it. I’ve taken other Tai Chi classes and found that my interest flagged halfway through for one reason or another. So I was cautious about whether to sign up for another one but I was optimistic.

I’m happy to report that this one was just right for me: the instructor was so sincere in his enthusiasm for the practice, clear in his instructions and ran us through a number of drills after the introduction of each new movement. Early in his introduction to the ten or so of us in the room, he told us that during three seasons of the year, a group that he led did Tai Chi together from 9 to 10 in the morning in Elm Park–and that it was free for anyone to participate. Having seen so many images of people doing Tai Chi together outside together in China and elsewhere, this idea appealed to me as something that could be done communally and in the fresh air when Spring arrives.

As I moved my head clockwise and then counter clockwise, I could hear the creaking of the cartilage in my neck, informing me of how unexercised and stiff I have become in my sedentary life. Then, moving my arms in wider circles, then in smaller ones, these same movements freed up stale energy there and elsewhere as we were guided to other parts of our body. The class consists of a meditation period of fifteen minutes that we didn’t do last night but will begin next week. Then, a warm-up of stretching for fifteen minutes; then a half hour of Tai Chi movements. My goal for a long time has been to learn Tai Chi movements sufficiently so that I could do them myself, anywhere, anytime, the Asian way, especially as time goes by. Sort of like Jennifer Hudson who demonstrated on TV the other day how she could exercise the American way anywhere she happened to be by doing 25 squats, sit-ups and push-ups! Bless her heart, she really does look amazingly thin and trim!

This morning, I did the warm-up stretches again, my right shoulder making a little clicking sound that I think is due to all the knitting that I’ve been doing in the past couple of months. Then, I did the opening movement: breathing in “cool, minty air” through my nose, the tip of my tongue at the roof of my mouth, holding it, and then breathing out “hot, sticky, air” out through my mouth. Breathing in, holding and breathing out. It’s interesting to imagine one breathing in fresh air through your nose and exhaling spent hot air through your mouth. It gives me a sense of being able to effect some care on my being by simply breathing more deeply and with more intention.

The other thing that happens, I noticed, is that while you are doing these simple breathing exercises and movements, your brain doesn’t have a chance to think about all the things that it’s usually preoccupied with. So, after an hour of this, your brain and your psyche have had a break. A time-out. A little rest for awhile.

And at the same time, your being has had a chance to take in a breath of fresh air.

How wondrous. And how easy. I’m looking forward to taking the rest of the class and joining the outdoor group in the mornings at the park when the weather warms up.