Opening and Closing
Two important concepts related to your Taichi practice are opening and closing. Many of your forms are designed to train your energy to be able to open up and then close again, concepts that are demonstrating Yin and Yang power in your energy flow. Let’s take a look at some basic forms and see how this works.
The first form we will look at is Upward Downward. As you inhale and begin to rise, notice how you open up, causing the arms to not only rise, but also expand outward. As you get to the top of your motion, you begin to bring the arms back and down, closing. Remember to expand back behind you as you open, as well as coming back forward from behind you as you close.
In Inward Outward, this is a little more complicated. At the top of your motion, as you separate outward, you are also rotating the hands outward, so your opening is a result of both separating and rotating outward. If done correctly, it will feel as if the heels are also opening outward. As the arms come back in at the bottom of your motion, the hands once again rotate and you close with the hands coming over the Dan Tian. The heels will feel as if they are closing back inward during this motion. Remember we are talking about feeling these motions in the heels, they are not actual physical motions.
In Raised Hands Stance, the opening and closing motion is in not only the motion of the arms, but also in the rising and sinking of the body. Think of a big energy sphere around the body, that expands from the Dan Tian, causing the arms to open and the body to rise on the inhale, and then, as you exhale, causing the arms to close and the body to sink on the exhale. You start from a point in the Dan Tian, and then open out into infinity, then close back in to a point in the Dan Tian.
The last form we will look at is Taichi Stance. Here you are holding a ball in front of you that you expand on the Inhale and contract on the exhale. You open and expand and then close and contract. Do not limit the ball to right in front of you, but allow it to get as big as you can imagine as it expands. Bring it into a point centered in the Middle Dan Tian when you contract.
Try and find this concept in your forms as you practice. Where do they open, where do they close? Remember that opening is related to Yang energy, which is energy that expands outward. Closing is Yin energy, which collapses inward. You need both, and must continuously balance them as you practice. As you expand outward, you will get to a point where you begin to feel a push back inward, which is the Yin energy beginning to resist the Yang. Without this, there would be no universe as everything would just expand out and dissipate. As you collapse inward, you will begin to feel resistance, which is the Yang energy resisting the Yin. This is what keeps everything from collapsing into a point.
You must go by your feeling to really understand this and practice properly. It is not something that you can truly understand by strictly physical practice. Always remember the Taichi Classics here when you read "Not too much, not too little". Only by following your true feeling can you achieve this level of awareness.