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Place both hands lightly on your hips. Keeping your head up, begin by spiralling your hips slowly outwards, feeling for any restriction, tightness or lack of ease.

After completing all the warm-up exercises, and having a moment or so quietly standing to see if you can find a point of equilibrium, a few minutes of t’ai chi walking may now follow.This is- known as walking with an “empty step”, rather in the manner of a cat tentatively putting out its paw before committing its full, weight on to the front leg.

In fact, it is well worth studying an adult cat that is gracefully walking, or gliding forwards when it has spotted its prey. Long haircuts for women Its whole movement is one of ceaseless flow, of elegant, unforced movement when every part of its body seems to be an extension of another part, and nothing is hurried or rushed.

As you progress through the form, use the following pages as an aide-memoire for your practice, especially for the transitions from one posture to the next. Remember to keep your movements slow and smooth, like clouds drifting gently by on a summer’s day, and relax. If you worry about this new exercise, you will not succeed.

In many ways that is the key problem for the new Western practitioner Doing these exercises initially means that you will be highly self-conscious because there is nothing like it in our culture.Yet gradually, after a few lessons, and above all after watching expert t’ai chi practitioners, it becomes clear that this is something which you can do successfully, and without having to ‘worry about what you look like.

Once you launch into the first few movements, the rest follow, and you find that an awkward state of self-consciousness is quickly replaced by an inner calm as you become less aware of the outside world, and more aware of inner ones. The key to t’ai chi is being able to make seamless flowing moves, with the emphasis not so much on specific poses as on the linking means of getting there. Ultimately, you too may be able to go into a park in the early morning, as they do in the East, and carry out t’ai chi utterly unselfconsciously, gaining spiritual refreshment.

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