How to release tension in the back? Take a warm shower during your form!
Long sitting or standing tends to produce tension in the back. We all experience that when working for hours at a desk or being on our feet all day. Taking a warm shower helps – and it is even more practical if you do not even need actual water!
Taking a warm shower to release your back
Just imagine warm water running down the back of your body. – Perhaps you are in a cool place, standing in a waterfall or being on holiday in a spa. Wherever you are now, the warm water is running down your back all the way down to your feet, constantly, washing away any tension there might be, creating a feeling of warmth and fullness. Just do the form with this image and experience the resulting release in your back.
Intensifying the release
Without added focus, we will normally feel a natural lengthening of the lower back, around the mingmen area.
Targeting specific areas – during each preparation
If you feel it necessary, you may focus on special areas of your back to release them more. This is best done during the preparation move before every posture. Just let the water wash away the tension in this area. If you work on this Tai Chi Aspect repeatedly, you will get better access to your body over time and learn to target the desired areas more easily.
Actively supporting the release – during each activation
Each time when you go into a posture of the Tai Chi form, you may release your back even a bit more. All we need for this, is a slight change of focus. The warm water continues running down our backs – down our entire body. And now, with every activation, we imagine fish swimming upstream, against the current. They come our of the ground between our feet and are swimming upstream in front of us along the full length of our body. The fish help us to form our posture against the ground: they fill our movement. – While our back continues to release and the water continues running down to our heels, our front and inner side of the body thus build the posture.
The image of the fish also supports an upright posture for those involving their mind so much that the head tends to drop. – Just imagine the fish to swim all the way up the front part of your neck, under your chin closely behind the ears up toward the crown of your head (baihui) to lift your head up.
Continuous release as flow meditation
Once we have mastered the release in two stages, we may now combine these into one continuous release. In this flow meditation we do the Tai Chi form as one continuous stream, in which only the shape of our postures changes in a slow rhythm. In this advanced practice, the fish are impulses during a continuous sensation of water running down your back. The challenge is to develop a slight, but clear change (fish), without disturbing the continuous flow (water). With some luck, you will feel like a fish in the water – free and happy.
Profile: Tai Chi Aspect – Taking a warm shower
- Difficulty: easy
- Goal: release your back, do the form as one stream
- Method: imagination, flow
- Element: Water
- Related Tai Chi Aspects: Letting go, Grounding/Continue Grounding, Create a base
Video Taking a warm shower – Tai Chi Aspects
Image: Megan Johnston
- Always move “just enough” (passive stepping)
- Tai Chi stepping 9/10 – Always leave the line of attack
- Tai Chi stepping 8/10 – Match your steps
- Tai Chi stepping 7/10
- Tai Chi stepping 6/10
- Tai Chi stepping 5/10 – Watch your back
- Tai Chi stepping Rule 4 – Keep connected to the ground
- Tai Chi stepping rule 3
- Tai Chi stepping rule 2