By Brett Wagland, Chief Instructor at Tai Chi Academy (Australia)
Tai Chi is based on the principle of Yin Yang. These two energies – negative and positive charges – underlie the constant flux of the universe. In the art of Tai Chi, we are always applying this principle in order to maintain a state of balance or harmony.
The Tai Chi classics state that we need to clearly distinguish between Yin and Yang. Before we move, one leg must become substantial which is Yang, while the other is insubstantial or Yin. Only when we do this are we able to move smoothly and slowly without losing balance. The principle of Yin Yang is also expressed in all the Tai Chi movements. There is always one part of the body acting as a counter force for another part. The Tai Chi is designed to give the body both rest and activity. This has the dual purpose of building up and strengthening our energy at the same time.
If we apply the concept of Yin Yang to our daily life, we will learn to balance excess and deficiency. This will bring harmony and wholeness to our relationships and all our activities. It is easy to talk about Yin Yang, but not as easy to apply this philosophy to every situation. Learning to apply this principle is like practising Tai Chi. We try to use only enough strength or energy to perform the movements. Too much, we become stiff and hard. Too little, we become too soft and limp. In everyday life, aggression and arrogance make us hard and stubborn. Passivity and submissiveness make us weak and fearful. Being balanced means that we have a healthy self image, firm yet relaxed and flexible, with a warm heart.
In order to apply the philosophy of Yin Yang to all situations, we need to be 100% present in the moment. This means that we have to be aware of what we think, say and do. This involves training our mind to be aware of itself and the environment. Without an open mindedness, we will fail to see what’s really happening. It’s the same when practising Tai Chi – a lapse of concentration will affect the quality of the practice.
Another important concept which ties in with Yin Yang is change. Everything changes; nothing stays the same. If we are unable to flow with the changes, we will experience a lot of stress. Change can be frightening, or exciting and challenging. Being able to respond to changes involves self acceptance and confidence in ourselves. If we are not comfortable with ourselves, it is difficult to let go and accept change.
Tai Chi movements are fluid like water. They represent the dynamic flow of life. Once things stop flowing, they become stagnant, just as good health depends on an unimpeded flow of blood. Learning to change with life also means having a sense of humour, being able to laugh at ourselves and the situations we find ourselves in. We also learn to be happy and content, no matter where we find ourselves and no matter what happens. Strength of character is built on how one responds to a situation, whether the condition is favourable or not.
This article is reproduced by kind permission of Tai Chi Academy (Australia) https://www.taichiacademy.com.au