1. Opening Posture of Taijiquan
Variations of names for this movement include: WuJi, Standing Quietly, Reconnecting with Oneness and Emptiness, Quiet Standing Mediation
Beginning, Commencement, Starting Posture, Commencing (Qishi), Taijiquan Opening Movement, and 预 备 : Yu Bei : Preparation Form.
Face N 12 (1a) . For an explanation of the directional scheme used in Cloud Hands webpages, please see below.
Stand at attention for awhile in 1a. Bring more awareness to the feet and legs, sink, ground yourself, melt with gravity. In Taiji and Qigong, standing quietly in a meditative posture like 1a for awhile is an important phase. Take your time, don't rush. Loosen up and relax (Sung). Shoulders are down, hands relaxed and gently touching the side of leg, and head is erect. This is the phase of WuJi (empty state), or standing like a tree (Zhan Zhuang), or post standing, in central equilibrium, reconnecting with oneness and emptiness. Breathe easily and comfortably. Meditate as is in 1a. [Your Tai Chi practice could also end here, and you do only Wuji Qigong for an hour ... not my favorite.]
Sink weight into right leg, and then step out to the left to shoulder width (1b).
Gently raise both arms up (1c), palms facing down, to about shoulder height (1d).
Lower both arms, palms down, to Dan Tien height, while bending at the hips and lowering the knees (1e).
The lower Dan Tien is a sphere of energy located a few inches behind and below the level of the navel or belly button; the middle Dan Tien is located in the heart area, and the upper Dan Tien is located behind the eyes in the brain. The most important for Taijiquan is the lower Dan Tien. Practitioners of Kundalini Yoga might consider correspondences of the 3rd Chakra (Manipurna) [Power, Will] with the Lower Dan Tien, the 4th Chakra (Anahata) [Compassion, Love] with the Middle Dan Tien, and the 6th Chakra (Aina) [Intuition, Vision, 6th Sense] with the Upper Dan Tien. The Chinese energetic system is quite different from the Indian energetic system, so correspondences are weak in this case. [Chris Akley wrote on 4/3/2012 that "Though I wouldn't say that this is wrong, I think there is a more accurate way to describe it. You could also say that the Dan Tien is in the second charka Swadhisthana which is where kundalini resides once it is awakened. But more accurately, I would say it is between the second and third chakra as this Qigong healer says, in between the energies of fire and water.] Despite my being sometimes confused by esoteric ancient anatomy and physiology, I do include some of it anyway for reference purposes. Chinese meridian anatomy is impressive.
This is movement often called "Raising Hands and Lowering Hands."
Breathe normally as you stand, relax, and center in position 1a. Breathe in through nose, and out through the nose. Slow the respiration rate to inhaling for 4-5 seconds, holding the full in-breath for 1-2 seconds, exhaling slowly for 4 to 5 seconds, pausing 1-2 seconds before beginning the yin/yang cycle of breathing again. Breathe in at 1a, breathe out as you step to 1b.
Breathe in as arms float up 1b-1c, and breathe out as arms float down (1d-1e).
1a. Opening Posture of Taijiquan, Wuji, Standing Meditation Posture
1d. Opening Posture of Taijiquan, Raise Hands and Lower Hands
Here is a description of the beginning of the Opening Posture of Taijiquan (#1, 1b) from the book Traditional Chen Style Taijiquan by Fan Chun-Lei and A. Frank Shiery, p.37:
"1. Preliminary Stance: Stand naturally upright with the feet placed shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly inward, and arms hanging naturally at the side. The body should be kept upright with the shoulders relaxed, eyes slightly closed and breathing naturally. The body should face north. The mind should remain empty, calm and clear. This is the state of WuJi, (Negative Terminus in Taoist Teaching).
2. Commencing Form: The body should exhibit being relaxed externally while solid within. The head is held naturally erect as if pulled upward by an invisible string. Close the lips slightly with the tongue touching the upper palate. The toes firmly grasp the ground with Yongquan point pulled upward. The eyes are looking straight ahead with the chin drawn slightly inward. The hip is turned up and the coccyx turned back and upward with the waist directed downwards. The whole body should remain relaxed. A mind state of intent is maintained while the vital energy flows upward from the Dantian to the Baihui point, while the turbid energy flows downward from the Dantian to the Yongquan point. During this time, the body exhibits no external movement. Yin/Yang, for example, closing/opening, supple-firm and fast-slow are manifested internally, portraying the image of the Taiji, (Grand Terminus) (1b).
Key Points to Remember: For the beginner, the primary concern should be to cleanse the mind and spirit of tension and anxiety, removing all negative thoughts. This develops even-temperedness and an alert mind for quick movement and response. Once this technique has been mastered, the practitioner can begin to understand and practice Taijiquan more effectively."
- Fan Chun-Lei and A. Frank Shiery, Traditional Chen Style Taijiquan
I enjoy doing raising and lowering hands, being coordinated, keeping yin and yang in balance, rising up and lowering down, floating up and sinking down, breathing in on up and breathing out on down. Energized leg, controlling waist, rotating, energy up the back out the shoulders and out to the hands. Simple and symbolic.
Some people do a Tai Chi salute: 1a, step forward, right fist covered by left palm, bow, return to 1a, 1b ... A Tai Chi mudra. I think the Tai Chi Salute is very cool, but I never do it while practicing alone. Most Taijiquan practice is done while you are alone.
For more information, descriptions, explanations, and interpretations about the Commencement or Opening Movement One of the Yang Style of Taijiquan, please check out my webpage on this subject.
Relaxation (Sung, Song, Fan Song) is essential to the successful, beneficial, and full body-mind experience of openness, effortlessness, and beauty of any style of Taijiquan.
Standing Meditation: Lessons, Bibliography, Quotations, Resources. Research by Mike Garofalo.
"Up and Down Hands": The Alpha and Omega of Taijiquan Practice. By Gerald A. Sharp. Qi: The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness, Volume 25, No. 1, Spring, 2015, pp. 18-24.