Tai Chi: Fifty Shades of Grey

Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Tai Chi: Fifty Shades of Grey

When we think of Tai Chi the first thing that comes to mind is the principles of Yin and Yang.

We know that if we can separate everything clearly into Yin and Yang, and the body moves in unison, our whole body becomes an interconnected unit of Yin and Yang energy.

However, what a lot of people fail to realise is that the Yin and Yang is relative and constantly changing.

For example:
- If you put your weight on your right foot, it and your right side are Yang, while your left side and foot are Yin.
- If you move forward, the front of your body is Yang and the back will be Yin.
- In repose however, the front of your body is Yin and the back is Yang.
- If your hand is moving forward with the palm facing you, the back of your hand will be Yang, while the palm will be Yin.
- If you add your arm to that, the hand will be Yang as it’s leading and the arm will be Yin because it’s following.
- If you relate the whole forward moving arm to your other arm, then the forward moving arm in its entirety is Yang, while your other arm is Yin.
You can add to this even further by saying that the inside of both arms is Yin while the outside of the arms is Yang.

No matter how far you break this down, the overarching principle is that the whole body must be a balance of Yin and Yang. You can’t have all your limbs being Yin or your lower body being Yang unless your upper body is Yin. Each part must compliment and balance it’s other. If you have everything in balance then the body becomes an interconnected whole.

Just remember the key concept is that Yin and Yang cannot act independently of each other. They must have an interdependence. They are constantly creating Fifty Shades of Grey.

That “greyness” is emphasised when we move. We don’t want our energy, body and mind to break into Yin and Yang. Even though there is a beginning, middle and end to a movement or action, they should flow into each other so that the cumulative effect is greater than the sum of the parts. The energy, body and mind can’t stop at any point. Like rotating the “Taiji” (the Yin Yang symbol). 

So, when you practice your Tai Chi, stop trying to divide your body into Yin and Yang (Black and White). It will cause your movements to become stagnant and too delineated. Think of it more and ebbing and flowing between one force and the other. Like “The flow of a great river”.

Tai Chi is “Grey” not only when applying Yin Yang principles. The thing to always bear in mind is that you cannot write questions in the Black nor see solutions in the White. It is only when you allow it to be Fifty Shades of Grey that you find what you are looking for.