Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
One of the things I love about warmer weather is the ability to work outside. Doing Tai Chi in the morning on a bright sunny day is a great experience and one I recommend to anyone doing Martial Arts. Even if you’re not involved in Tai Chi, do one of the various kata or forms you might know in slower motion and absorb the sunlight of the early morning. The key to take full advantage of this time of day is to relax and open yourself up to the new day. This is a time of revitalization and energizing the body. Thus, pick movements that are meant to energize and build your energy rather than burn you out.
Even if you don’t do Martial Arts, there are some simple Martial Arts movements which can help you achieve a similar feeling. Here are two simple Chi Kung exercises which you can do:
Picking fruit embodies the image of someone picking cherries or apples from a tree, again more images associated with warm weather and summer. To do this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands loosely at your side. With your right hand, reach upwards towards the opposite side as if picking a fruit in a high branch. Stretch all along the side to the point where your right foot comes up to a point. Bring your right hand back to resting position and then repeat the movement on the other side. Movement should be slow and controlled, meaning taking the same amount of time up as you do down. Your breathing should be exhaling as you reach up, inhaling as you return to resting position.
Shifting weight is again a very simple set of movements that can be a good way to start the morning. In this exercise, stand in a long bow stance. For those unfamiliar with Martial Arts, the stance is quite simple. Step forward with one leg as if you’re taking a big step across something. Then bend the lead leg forward to make a 90-degree angle at the knee. Adjust the back foot at an angle until you’re comfortable. (You can normally achieve this with your back foot at around a 45-degree angle outward.) Now, to shift your weight, simply straighten your front leg and collapse your back. Your body should naturally turn to one side. Turn back to the forward position as your weight shifts forward. Again, keep the movement slow and controlled, taking as long to move forward as you do back. Imagine your arms in a pool of water and they are floating around you as you move. Inhale as you collapse back, exhale as you move forward. When you’re ready, step forward with the other leg and repeat the exercise. Make sure to do the same number of twists on each leg to keep your body balanced.
So if the weather is nice, starting thinking about incorporating these and other exercises in the early morning. These are great ways to start your day and keep you energized throughout.