Physical Movement Principles
- Roundness, continuity, naturalness, and slowness. Slowness allows reflection and self-observation. It is an excellent approach to teaching movement, especially if a person is fearful of changing movement patterns. Clients need to challenge habitual movement patterns through continual self-assessment. There is a Japanese proverb that says, "Willow does not break under weight of snow." Stiff or inflexible branches, bones, and psyches will break, yet the pliant willow will not. Pliant bones, connective tissues, and psyches won't break: Ai Chi can help to make one pliant.
- Movements must flow (not forceful in the beginning of a move but of equal force throughout the move). Work towards continuity with a continual flow between exercise movements. Flowing movements integrate mental, physical, and spiritual energy. Ai Chi is flowing, soft, round movements executed with a profound inwardly directed focus. It requires a non-judgmental attention to self.
- Move with the water (muscles and joints will relax and eyes become partly closed). Move naturally until the motions flow easily, with no straining. Ai Chi should be done slowly, gently, and quietly. By eliminating all other thoughts, you'll achieve a unity of movement and consciousness. Awareness of the mind's presence in the various parts of the body is taught through the techniques of Ai Chi. With that training, we can acquire greater degrees of health, fitness, and longevity than through physical training alone.
- Repetition. Deep relaxation can only occur when you feel stable in the water and confident in your ability to follow the progression: repetition allows us to do this. The repetition in Ai Chi is for relaxation, not for evaluating success or failure. The challenge for those who are addicted to outward movement is a change in perspective. Jonathan Miller, famous English physician and writer, said, "In living things all restlessness is directed toward the achievement of tranquility." In Ai Chi, the focus is on tranquility, rather than the precision and rigidity of traditional exercise.
- Pelvic mechanics and alignment. Correct alignment is crucial. Twists created by the trunk stability movements are neutralizing, cleansing, and organic. They improve digestion and remove sluggishness, and are effective in relieving backaches, headaches, and stiffness in the shoulders and neck. After Ai Chi positioning is taught, natural, continual movement and slowness are taught, and then breathing is incorporated.