The Vertical Axis and You

Many lower back injuries are caused by poor performance posture. Tai Chi will encourage you to maintain good posture and will remind you when you get sloppy. Proper posture is found in aligning the three dan tien points over the soles of the feet, with the weight slightly more to the heels than the front.

This figure illustrates how the spine is lengthened as you drop into the Horse Stance, although this is an exaggeration.

Tai Chi - (Vertical Axis Posture)

As you practice Tai Chi's slow gentle forms, your back will experience discomfort whenever you forget posture and let your butt creep out too much. However, the slow, low-impact nature of Tai Chi will alert you to correct posture long before real damage occurs. This is what sets Tai Chi apart from other training. If done correctly, slowly, and gently, Tai Chi enables you to become aware of any poor physical habits long before physical damage is done. In fact, you often don't become aware of problems in high-impact sports until the doctor is telling you not to play that sport ever again.

One amazing aspect of Tai Chi is that it replicates ALL the movements we go through in our daily lives.

When your "Snake Creeps Down," you are loading the dishes in the dish washer (Thanks Liz Keith in Arizona for this clever image). When you "Push" or "Punch" you are shoveling snow, or pushing the lawn mower. When you "Pull Back" you are racking leaves, and on and on.

As you learn to move effortlessly from the Dan Tien in Tai Chi and Qigong movements, you move differently in all your daily activities, and you get more done, with less strain, and more power.

Note that the head is drawn upward toward the sky, as if a string were pulling from the center of the head. The chin is slightly pulled in, and the tailbone or sacrum is dropped down. This has the effect of lengthening the spine.