Thursday, August 30, 2007

Watching Taichi Videos

Jenclair was kind enough to post some taichi videos on her blog recently, after a certain pesky blogger pestered her about it. I finally managed to finish watching all the videos without my internet connection breaking up on me in mid-download.(Yay!) Jenclair said to look out for the last video, a performance by Vivian. It was nicely described as "Tai Chi. Woman in pink." on Youtube. Hee.

I'm not a taichi expert, but I thought Vivian was very graceful in the video. I replayed the video a few times, all the while paying close attention to her leg movements.

Why? Because Vivian made it look easy to move like that, and it's something I'm currently having difficulty with in my own yoga practice.

My weakest poses are balance poses. I often stumble, my legs start quaking and I fall out of poses. Often during transitions from one asana to another, I am awkward, stumbling a little.

There's a lot of legwork in my Shadow Yoga classes ― and some of them are similar to certain movements I saw on the taichi videos. My struggles with these legworks is pretty obvious to my teacher, J. Everytime we have to do the legworks, J. would turn to me and say: "Your favourite pose."

I think she knows I dislike and avoid doing legwork because they challenge me the most - which ironically is the reason why I need to do them more. To build up the strength in the inner thighs.

I am still in awe of the grace Vivian exudes in her taichi demonstration. It sets me thinking about the source of grace in life. Often in class, I would watch some of the more graceful yoga teachers in their own demonstrations, the way they move fluidly from one asana into another, like a dancer. Grace springs from a reservoir of strength - something that comes only with consistent practice, from consistent effort.

So often we look at someone like Vivian, and we think, "Wow. She's so good." We forget that she's probably worked hard to be so good. Yes, talent counts, but hard work is what makes the difference between potential and reality.

Then we look at personalities like Aung San Suu Kyi, and we admire her grace under great oppression, and we think, "If only we can be like her. If only we are so strong." Again, we forget: Their grace in the midst of great suffering comes from a source of inner strength. And then we need to ask ourselves, where do they find that kind of inner strength?

I believe, from consistent practice, from consistent effort.


jenclair said...

Vivian is graceful, strong, and skilled. She is lovely to watch. However, as you say, it didn't come without dedication and effort. I do think some people have an innate propensity (physical,intellectual, or emotional) to certain activities, but as you say, "hard work is what makes the difference between potential and reality." How great is one's desire? Is it great enough to do all of the hard work involved?

Balance has a lot to do with finding your center and relaxing into it. Find your center, and your balance improves dramatically. And since you have included Aung San Suu Kyi in the idea of grace, we can see that a center emotionally provides a core of strength.

Oh, shoot, I keep thinking of stuff in relation to what you have said. Balance (and finding your center) is easier when you have a focus. In a physical sense, find a spot to keep your eye on (in ballet, student's are taught to "spot"), and balance becomes easier. It is also true in the abstract, in the emotional and intellectual sense--keep focusing on something and your efforts are more likely to result in what you are working for. Intention and Attention...

I know, I go on and on. :0

darkorpheus said...

Ah, but please go on.

My Shadow Yoga teacher always reminds me to focus back on the dantien - the core - but right now it's still somewhat elusive.

Intention and attention. Oh yes, oh yes. How I desperately need to remember them.

Focus. I can do great backbends and hip-openers, but it's always the poses that requires focus and centering that challenges me.