A golden beach, the smell of salt air and bodies proceeding in unison with a dance like motion; slow, graceful, deliberate movements advancing as a gentle wave. Like the ocean with no beginning and no end – only the perpetual flow of legs, arms, hands… The perfect balance of Yin and Yang energy; glistening in the light – emanating life.
Each step brings the flesh closer to the earth. Every breath re-unites the soul with the heavens. Each figure a unique personification of the universe with an endless yearning to blend its essence with the Great Ultimate, the “Tai Chi”.
The foundation of Tai Chi
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…began with the concept of Yin and Yang, the principal energy forces making up the universe. A circle divided equally by a serpentine line represents the Yin and Yang symbol. One half is black and one white. Within each figure is a small circle containing the opposite colour.
This signifies that everything embodies something from its contrasting side. The curved line and the joining of the figures demonstrate a mutual need and interdependence of the two. It is impossible to have one without the other. When the two halves of the Yin and Yang are in balance, the Chi will be harmonious and the health at an optimum level.
Tai Chi has been described as a moving meditation. This phenomenon develops naturally with the blending of the mind and body through the practice of the slow rhythmic movements. The unique pace of Tai Chi enables the mind and body to develop a special relationship as well as embrace and become one with the flow of the universe.
As familiarity with the form increases, the movements develop a natural rhythm and the state of meditation deepens. Because of this many practitioners describe the physical and emotional exhilaration they experience after performing Tai Chi.
“In every movement the entire body should be light and agile and all of its parts connected like a string of pearls”. Chang San-Feng
There are two major styles of Tai Chi. The Chen, created by a Taoist, Chang San-Feng, can trace its origins back more than 800 years. The Yang Family style, originated by Yang Lu-Chan in the early 1800’s, is the most popular form practiced today.
Yang Lu-chan is credited with popularizing Tai Chi by drastically restructuring the form. He deleted several difficult jumps, leaps, and aggressive kicks and punches thus creating a program suitable for all ages and physical conditions. His family continued to improve the style until it evolved into its present form known as the Yang Family Style “Large Frame” which consists of 108 continuous movements.
Tai Chi Chuan – the Great Ultimate Fist, was originally created as a martial art. The Yang Style, also a fighting form, evolved into a comprehensive exercise program to improve health, cure illness and revitalize the mind, body and spirit.
“Tai Chi Chuan is an art” with strength concealed in gentle movements, like an iron hand in a velvet glove, or a needle concealed in cotton”. Yang Cheng-fu.
Tai Chi also incorporates the Taoist principal of “Wu Wei” which translates literally as “doing nothing to disturb the spontaneous flow of things”. When Tai Chi is performed with grace and intention, there is a natural rhythm that mirrors the ebbs and flows of the Great Universal, the perpetual movement of energy in the universe.
The concept of Yin and Yang, the foundation of Chinese culture, metaphysics and medicine, is more than 3000 years old. Everything in the universe can be categorized as Yin or Yang.
Examples of Yin are female, night, cold, soft, black and the corresponding Yang energies are male, day, fire, hard and white. When Yin and Yang energies are balanced, all things are in harmony.