My practice of a seated adaptation to the Yang Style 24 Form began out of necessity. For most of this year I have been dealing with a broken foot. From the months before surgery to re-breaking and recovering, I was forced to reassess my lifestyle, bringing more attention foot health, as well as root development, and becoming sensitive to my foot’s needs and dangers. I like to think of it as re-developing my relationship with it.
Aside from allowing me to continue my practice at a time when I was rendered immobile, the seated adaptation to forms provided me with new and deeper perspectives to a practice I have been doing for more than a decade. The more I use it, the more useful I find it, and the greater my appreciation for it grows. Limited or not, I would encourage all Taiji practitioners to try a seated adaptation. If you are open to it, it will give you different insights to your movements.
I made video recently for one of my student who, also out of necessity, must practice a seated adaption at this time. After reviewing the video, I decided to share in hopes that others may also benefit from it.
Below you will find my personal seated adaptation to the Simplified Yang Style 24 Form Taiji Quan, as well as a few observations I’ve had, specific to the experience of practicing seated forms.
- Changing the center of gravity, in turn, changes the root.
- All variations of sitting (cross-legged, lotus, straddle, kneeling) will yield different experiences. You can even try it on your knees or in a chair!
- As a result, the supporting muscles work differently to execute the motions.
- Weak and tight areas in the hips, core, back, and shoulders will be highlighted.
- Movement of the upper body may become restricted and more challenging to perform, particularly twisting, rising, and expansive movements.
- Since you are in a fixed position, your range of motion will also be limited.
- You will have to adapt your angles to the space you have in front of you and possibly even make some motions smaller, or more subtle.
Remember that movements travels from the ground, upward and outward. Support works the same. In order for the upper body to have the space for softness, openness and mobility, it must be supported by the strength of the lower body. Whether seated or standing, always take the time to firmly establish your root. Develop your foundation. Feel it, all of it, and its effect going up the chain.
When faced with obstacles it can be easy to lose sight of the possibilities in front of you, the things that you are still able to do. Rarely are things “all or nothing”. Adaptation is the theme. Feel it out. Explore. Let go of the idea of what you think the form is supposed to look like and instead use it in a way that works for your situation and a way that is going to help you. Be open to experiencing something new and different.
Enjoy and remember to breathe.