Ever feel like you just need a really good deep stretch? I did over the Christmas holidays and since I know loads of yoga and hadn’t done a full yoga session in years, I decided to mix up my routine and “gift” myself a full 45-60 minute outdoor yoga session in a park. It was wonderful! All my muscles felt pulled and worked; my fascia felt less like a restrictive body suit and more like my loving flexible Elasti-Girl suit I’m used to.
It wasn’t until that night that I noticed something awry. My low back woke me in the middle of the night, not aching but downright screaming. I got up and walked around; it quickly went away and I quickly went back to sleep. For the next couple nights and days my low back bothered me, ALOT! Not the point it used to years ago that I couldn’t do stuff, but I did feel it most of the next 3-4 days and nights, especially nights.
Before I made chi arts my primary self-care routine, yoga was my go-to for over a decade. I knew so much about yoga that I subbed for some of my teachers when they were in a pinch. I know how to modify and listen to my body. In fact, when I “gifted” myself the yoga in the park, I went into it conscious that I’ve been hurt by yoga in my past, a major part of why I stopped. I was conscious of not going too far in the cobras of my Sun Salutations, or turn excessively in my spinal twists. In fact, I wanted to push myself further into some of the poses than I did, but I cautiously held back.
Even with decades of in depth knowledge and experience in learning my body, one afternoon session of gentle yoga under the oaks left me hurting not from using weak muscles, but from being in positions my body is never in unless I’m doing yoga. To me that’s it. That’s the biggest difference between yoga and chi arts.
In neither qigong or tai chi do we put the body in fully extended, compromised, unusual positions that it’s not used to. All our movements are based on how human beings use their bodies all day long, normally. In chi arts practices we train so we can live in exactly the ways we already do, just more efficiently, safely and consciously. Hopefully this will be the last time I get hurt doing yoga in an effort to feel better. I don’t want to do yoga anymore. It was great in my teens and 20s when my body didn’t have all the wear and tear it does now, when I was naturally more limber and flexible.
From here on out, I’m aging gracefully and pain-free into my chi-infused future. Learning from my mistakes sometimes takes me a few repeat failures but now I know yoga is no longer for me. Tai chi is The Way and has been called The Way for centuries. It certainly is The Way for me.
One of the best chi arts resources I ever purchased was a book called The Way of Qigong by Kenneth Cohen. I bought it over 10 years ago and still value it as a reference tool. If you’re interested in this classic of qigong literature, consider using my Amazon Affiliate link (https://amzn.to/3iiB6JL) if you decide to purchase a copy for yourself. Grateful I get to share my chi lessons and joys with you, moving pain-free into the future together. ;)