Sphere, not circle 10.24.15

Aedh’s been telling me for years  to bend at the hips, that’s one reason I do the wall squat–it requires this to be successful. For the past year or so he has been talking about as the hips go back that you get a rounded space.

I think I’ve got it figured out what he is talking about, and I don’t see it as a round space.  I see it as a sphere, round in all directions.  And the point of achieving that sphere is that when one pushes on a sphere it just moves.  If you get on top of it, or it somehow ends up under you, it is a particularly unstable situation and you are liable to end up sailing onto the ground or against whatever fixed object is in the way.

There is  a chance I can practice this in my standing posture (tree) and wall squat.  Been looking for a meaningful push hands exercise I can do by myself for 38 years!  I think/hope I’ve got it!

Wall squat 10.10.15

Aedh has always said the only way to successfully do this is open the hips.  It combines strength and flexibility with feet together requiring far more strength, and feet wide apart requiring more flexibility in the hips.  He compromised at 1 1/2 shoulder width. I’ve been doing 1 shoulder width cause of my CMC training, but I think I will follow him, figuring easier is better for now.  He also said an inch from the wall is a lot easier (I didn’t think it would make that much difference) so I’ll start trying that.  Finally he said just deep squatting with parallel feet and then putting elbows between the knees and stretching it out works in the right direction.  Not part of my minimum practice but something to start ASAP.  (Not today!)

But inch out and 1 1/2 width can be part of my minimum. Today!

“I can’t believe…” 9.20.15

“I can’t believe I did not show you this in the beginning!”  Aedh.

It’s a simple, and central to the every day practice of tai chi, exercise that goes, big toe, little toe, heel and then the other foot the same.  It’s a figure 8 shifting of the weight and Aedh says he never stands still!  And of course this allows for the practice of tai chi many  more hours a day than just holding postures or practicing set forms.

Now if I can just do it, incorporate it into my life!  I noticed when I first started studying tai chi and I was working in a state hospital for the criminally insane, that I used my tai chi every time I opened a door.  Hopefully with this piece of the puzzle I can further expand my practice into the wider everyday asylum.

Wall squat revisited 9.1.15

Aedh said perseverance and tenacity are two uniquely human traits, that these are what define us.

We were doing a push hands drill involving folding at the hips and sinking the tailbone.  He commented that this was just like in the wall squat when you started to lose your balance. I told him I was no longer doing it, and he said it didn’t matter whether my back could bend or not, do it for the hip flexibility and the awareness of my tailbone.

In the drill when I was able to fold and sink, and relax my arms, he would go flying.  So it is obviously worth pursuing and I will; it’s back in my minimum practice.

Wall Squat RIP 8.30.15

Having practiced the wall squat daily for almost 9 months, I find that I am not progressing in my squat, as marked on the wall.  So, I quit.

It is not just the lack of progress that causes me to quit, it is the observation that in watching Aedh do the squat that there is considerable flexibility of the back involved, and bending of the spine.  I can’t do this because my back has been fused for the whole thoracic spine, meaning the whole spine along the ribs.

So, my minimum practice is the first third of the CMC form and 6 min of cane.

Minimum Practice 6.27.15

This morning was the shortest time I have had to get ready in many years.  And I still got minimum practices in, 8 min each tai chi and Alexander.

The tai chi has evolved into 2 min of the CMC form, the first third of it, a couple minutes of wall squat (still very far behind, trying to do it right) and at least three repetitions of a cane form I am learning.

The cane is done with a classical therapy cane, probably cut a little longer than usual, but innocent looking with the usual hook.  Mine is not the usual therapy cane, it is a Ka-Bar fighting cane (they normally make high end knives, having started with supplying the US Marine Corps with their fighting knives) but that is just a little splurge and perhaps a bit of ego.  I’m not really planning on practicing cane fighting.

There are all sorts of serious Asian cane fighting techniques, and this is not one of them!  This is a satire, making fun of people mugging seemingly helpless old people, tai chi of different flavors, such as the Chen style stamping and the wave your arms prettily in the air type.  It also makes fun of Fred Astaire type dancing, ball room dancing and God knows what else.  I think it is very funny, quite precise, and a good way to learn how to handle my stick if I ever need it for self defense.  When I find a good video of it, I will post a link.

The Alexander Technique has changed to my laying down work (constructive rest) being with my legs elevated on a box to make it even more of a rest, not requiring me to keep attention on my knees toward the ceiling.  Then of course, I crawl a little and go about my day.  A big difference tho is I am laying down, usually, 10 times a day for short periods, and sometimes allow myself to fall asleep and take a nap there.

This additional laying down has, I think, made the difference between a gradual slide into pain, and my basically pain free state.  Quite an achievement, since I have no regular lessons! The fact that I am teaching helps me too, because I have to practice it while I am teaching a lesson in order to transmit it.

End Gaining and the Wall Squat 6.8.15

End gaining is going for a goal at any cost, without regard to how we get there.  It is obviously one of the purposes of the Alexander Technique to improve our means of getting to our goals more efficiently and without hurting ourselves, without end gaining.

I have been progressing in my wall squatting, as measured by marks on the wall, at about 2 inches (5cm) a month, until this month.  And this I have done this is by “trying hard,” twisting and contorting my body.

As I was doing my wall work this morning, which is an important part of my minimum practice, I realized that the contorting had limits to how far it could go.  Aedh had said there was only one way to do this, and that it was opening the hips, which means, I think, letting the knees go out and away from each other, requiring some serious stretching of the ligaments that hold the femur in the hip socket.  Contorting and twisting were not getting this.

So,it looks like going back to where I was some months ago, and doing it right.  Hard on the ego!

World Tai Chi Day 2015

Last Saturday was World Tai Chi Day and at 10 AM about 40 of us from 3 different schools all did our tai chi, or qi gung as had all the time zones before us.

It was a very pleasant morning with the different schools demonstrating one of their forms.  Of course we demonstrated the only form we do!  There were six of us in red tops and black pants and we stood out, as did the other schools with their colors.

The host group at the Via Center also did fan, sword and walking stick.  I approached a couple people afterwards and think I am going to get to learn this form which is done with a J style walking cane.  It is a funny form, a satire, and I have already ordered a cheap wooden cane from Walmart and a much pricier aluminum one from Sears.

NEW ORLEANS ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE 4.6.15

I’m coming up on my 4th week teaching in New Orleans and it has been a very pleasant experience. Lots of experienced students are coming back and staying, so my slots are filling up. I’ve yet to teach a 5 hour day, but I can see it coming.

The Uptown Holistic Center is undergoing major renovations, so I have moved to Freret Street Yoga, and it seemed to work out last week.   The room is much smaller, but adequate.  My landlords are both students of mine and seem eager to feed me students so I will keep coming around.

I like the situation.  I’m having fun!  I have a good, full day in New Orleans and then I head  home and teach another student!