Circular Motions and Spiraling Methods in Tai Chi


A circle is round with no sides or corners.

A circle has no beginning or end.

You might say that when you draw a circle, it is never-ending. To the Greeks, the circle is a symbol of divine symmetry and balance in nature. In spiritual terms, the circle represents notions of wholeness, infinity, and timelessness.

All Tai Chi motions are based on circular movements. The circular movement is a seamless flowing continuity where a part of the circle naturally flows into the other without end. The circle represents constant movement. Therefore, balance is never a fixed state, but rather an ongoing process of awareness and motion.

You may continue on with your life and fall out of your center from time to time. Do you know where you stand in your center? Do you struggle under the impact of minor disturbances or mishaps in life?

This is where Tai Chi can help.

Tai Chi is a physical and energetic practice. You can re-center yourself almost immediately.

When you move, you constantly correct your equilibrium.

Let’s face it, you are continuously drawn out of your center and you must continually refocus. There are forces out there that distract, confuse, fascinate and terrify us. 

You need to learn to interact with the world while maintaining your connection with stillness. There is a lot of noise out there. In the practice of Tai Chi, you need to practice until you can play with all the different types of energies in this world without falling, without getting out of balance.

Tai Chi requires you to effortlessly establish circles and spirals moving at different speeds to obtain a complete connected circulation of Chi energy in your body.

Tai Chi movements are created by using very important techniques, known as twisting, spiraling, and turning. Twisting and spiraling amplify Tai Chi’s fundamental use of circular movements.

For example, the joining of multiple circles in a continuous flow creates spirals. Some spirals go up and then some spirals go down. You can see the continuous circle unraveling in a spiral. When you practice the twisting and spiraling techniques, they will maximize the health benefits of Tai Chi.

They stretch your muscles, both lengthwise and from side to side. How?

As another example, when you bend and stretch your arm forward, you do so, not just lengthwise, but from side to side. When you stretch out your arm like this, imagine that you are using a screwdriver with your hand. This establishes the twisting, turning, and spiraling effect of the Tai Chi movements.

The twisting, turning, and spiraling do a few things to your body that you normally wouldn’t do.

First, you feel that you’re using different parts of your body you haven’t used before. Twisting stretches the soft tissues in a lateral side-to-side fashion, not just lengthwise as is common in other exercises.

Second, it separates your fascia, which will give improved muscle function and flexibility. Your muscles are not bound up. They’re able to loosen up, come out and unbind themselves through these techniques.

Third, it tones your muscles more so than regular stretching exercises. Remember your exercises are mostly done lengthwise. Whereas in Tai Chi practice, they become more rounded. So you’re using a lot of other different parts of your muscles, in addition to stretching them, and loosening them up.

Fourth, the twisting, turning, and spiraling loosens and strengthens your joints. Remember you’re not twisting your joints themselves, but you’re allowing the muscles and the soft tissues around your muscles to twist and turn. This helps the joints to move, close, and open in your body.

Finally, these techniques open and stretch the parts inside your abdominal cavity. This increases blood circulation within your internal organs, and that’s very important. Twisting improves the functioning of your kidneys. It improves the functioning of your liver. It also improves your digestion and elimination as well. I’ve heard many times that when people do Tai Chi, it helps them digest.

Let’s do some Tai Chi now and explore how twisting, spiraling, and turning can help your body get into shape. Let’s start:

1. Dropdown, bend your knees. Take a step and shift the weight onto your left foot.

2. Turn in with the right foot, exhale, relax, and sink.

3. Energize the fingers up in front of you so you are raising your hands to chest level.

4. Exhale, relax.

5. Energize the fingers again. 

6. Relax back down, and lower your hands and fingers. Exhale all the way.

7. Energize, turn to your right and spin out.

8. Shift the weight onto the right, step with the left, and shift the weight. Exhale.

9. Energize, turn your body, and spiral right back up.  Ward off.

10. Then sink again, twist your body to the right and turn. Step, exhale your breath out all the way. 

11. Energize, spiral right back up. Ward off.

12. Exhale, lean back slightly.

13. Energize and open circularly. Rollback.

14. Exhale all the way.

15. Energize turn and press.

16. Exhale, shift your weight back and turn.  Then turn and circle back out.  Drop into your right foot and exhale all the way.

17. Energize and push. 

18. Exhale, spiral down.

19. Open your arms at shoulder level. Energize.

20. Drop down and exhale.

21. Cross your hands. 

22. Relax back down, and exhale all the way.

By watching this video you can see the spiraling motions of Tai Chi.

What if you can increase the flow of Chi through your energy channels?

Energy naturally moves and spirals. When you increase the spiraling movements of your physical tissues, you naturally activate spiraling energy. This causes energy to move with greater strength in your body. You get more energy and Chi.

What are some Tai Chi techniques that emphasize the twisting of your soft tissues?

What are some spiraling methods to think about when you are doing Tai Chi?

Take an Online Tai Chi Class with me and find out.

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