How To Move Like A Great River


Tai Chi practice involves drawing images from nature.

One image of nature that humans love to observe is water.

Water that flows down from a waterfall.

Water that crashes with the ocean waves.

Water that runs downstream in a river.

The Tai Chi classics teach you to move like a great river. 

The river teaches you the principle of flow. When the river flows, it ensures constant purification. When water sits still in a puddle, by contrast, it gets dirty over time. It’s important to move, flow, heal, and rejuvenate your body physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Water is used as a form of medicine.

When you drink water, you feel refreshed. When you bathe and shower in it, you feel all the soil you’ve accumulated during the day is washed away.

The imagery of a river flowing helps you to move your Chi or energy. This manner of Tai Chi practice opens the door to your insides. You might think it difficult and even scary to feel your body’s internal environment. Where do you even begin to nourish, bathe and massage your body’s internal environment?

Begin by emphasizing the belief and thought that your mind leads the energy to flow. When the energy flows, your body is moved. The energy must always flow. Flow is health and wholeness. Without flow, there is stagnation and dis-ease.

Tai Chi is a way for you to maintain and balance the flow of Chi or life force within your body through breath and movement. 

Chi is invisible, or at least immeasurably subtle. Yet, you cannot deny its presence.

Chi flows through your body as a great river flows through fertile land.

Chinese medicine speaks of meridian lines which are the channels by which your energy flows. Your health depends on the balance and harmony of your body’s internal flows. Through the mindful practice of your body’s natural wave movements, combined with the gentle rhythm of your breath, it’s possible to influence the flow of Chi in your body.

How do you transfer from the external to the internal movements to move your Chi and your body?

Your body is made of literally 70% of liquid. 

Imagine you’re filled with an inner ocean, an ocean made of water, blood, and lymph. Sense your body movement as being more like a great ocean flowing in a wave-like manner, rather than seeing your body as a solid object, changing from shape to shape or from position to position. Seeing your body this way produces external movements. 

As your external movements become more coordinated and fluid, you gradually begin to get internal sensations. You begin to become aware of the pulls and stretches where your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones meet. You’ll begin to feel your joints rather than your muscles surrounding them. 

You might feel the inside of your belly and some of your internal organs. You may feel something going up your spine through your arms, to your fingertips. You may begin to experience your lower dantien like a reservoir being filled. You may sense the depths of the great ocean within you and within your body. 

By practicing more Tai Chi, you’ll experience how outer external movements have the potential to take you deep inside your body and mind.

Let’s awaken your internal energy possibilities with some Tai Chi:

1. From your normal standing position, turn your left foot 45 degrees. Shift the weight onto the left foot, step forward with the right and get yourself into the ward off position.

2. Exhale, shift the weight back, pour the water into your left foot, drop and turn.  Energize.

3. Shift the weight. Pour the water into your right foot and exhale all the way. Energize ward off.

4. Exhale, drop, and shift the weight. Pour the water, turn the body.  Energize. 

5. Shift the weight forward. Pour the water down your right leg into your right foot.  Energize to ward off.

6. Exhale, relax, sink, drop and turn. Energize.

7. Shift the weight, exhale and energize to ward off.

8. Exhale, and relax. Rollback. 

9. Shift the weight, exhale forward and energize. Ward off. 

10. Exhale, relax into your left foot, pour the water. Roll back.

11. Shift the weight exhale and pour the water into your right foot to ward off.

As you do these movements, think about the wave and how the water moves the body in a wave-like manner as you’re shifting the weight from right to left and then from left to right.

What if you can deliberately move your energy to permeate and revitalize every cell in your body?

What if you can move your energy to wash away the sick or tired energy that you’ve accumulated and wash it away down through your feet and into the earth?

What are these meridian lines we introduced earlier?

What are the primary and secondary channels?

What’s the central channel by which you can move your energy through your body?

Learn more about these things in future blog posts. In the meantime, check out my YouTube channel to learn more about the Tai Chi wave-like movements.

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