Movement, Language, and Joy

Qigong and cats share an affinity. I’m sure of it. Just watch one doing the perfect spinal twist, lying on its back, legs one way and head the other. It feels so good to move and stretch. Qigong and Tai Chi are great for activating our parasympathetic nervous systems. The movements may release endorphins, increase blood flow to muscles, help reduce pain, and enhance mood. Stretching is not only great to do, it also looks good. And how free it must feel, to be so flexible that our ‘snake-creeps-down’ or ‘needle-at-sea-bottom’ almost reach the floor. (Though, however much we might long to do that, some of us have to accept the limitations of our bodies; fortunately, age gives wisdom enough to modify those beautiful movements. Right?)

Watch martial art exponents, or professionally trained dancers: ballroom, ballet, any kind of dancing, including ice-skating, and marvel at the amazing control and core strength of the movements. That wonderful stretch seems an invitation to not only admire, but to share the feeling that accompanies the movement. And movement speaks to us. Movement is language. That arm extension as it reaches for a star, or the subtle lift and turn of the body as it moves through an elegant parry, presents us with the opportunity to connect with ourselves.

Language is everywhere. We communicate with our world in so many ways and when we do, we connect with others.

Why do I think this worthy of comment? I see it as a commitment to our every movement, respecting our bodies and, by extension, honour the world we live in. Love it, and make every movement count!

Recently I heard of a wise indigenous woman who explained the reason for “goose-bumps”. She said when you have goose-bumps you are experiencing truth. Recently, my skin prickled as I watched a young Olympic ice skater, skating with feeling, his whole being committed to a beautiful piece of music. It was as though he was gifting us with the result of his hard work, his technique, and his ability to move inside the music. I could have hugged the fellow for giving me a few moments of pure joy.

There are times in a Tai Chi class when our group is in perfect harmony – individuals melding into a single entity, arms rising into one powerful ‘white crane’. As the movements flow it’s as if the group is a single lung, and for a moment it feels as though the breath of the whole world matches ours.

Perhaps we can communicate a little of this unique and hidden language through the rest of this pandemic – and beyond – with the potency of our Tai Chi.

Judith Michael
Trainee Instructor, Eltham and Camberwell Centres

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Updated: 12 April 2022