Becoming Grounded for Tai Chi


Here’s a blog post I recently wrote for


We are woken up in the mornings and reach for our phones, checking messages and updates – the TV goes on to watch the morning news, weather and traffic updates. The drive or commute to work is spent listening to the radio, reading the paper or a book. Arrive at work and the laptop goes on as we sip our coffee to try to give the mind a bit of a caffeine boost. It’s then a day of emails, documents, spreadsheets, meetings…. Another commute or drive home and then the TV goes on or the iPad comes out for more mental stimulation. Or if we’re really busy, the laptop comes out and we get to carry on working.

Any (or all) of that sound familiar? It may be an extreme example but I’m sure some of it is close to the mark for nearly everyone.

There’s so much mental stimulation going on there, just writing that opening paragraph nearly gave me a headache!

The energy of the mind – or Shen in Chinese Medicine, is working double overtime in such a routine! Buzzing around the head, it’s amazing our feet even touch the ground. Probably some days It feels like they don’t.

No wonder conditions such as headaches, insomnia, stress and anxiety are so prevalent.

I teach lots of tai chi classes each week and one thing that I continually notice is the (usually) rushed and (often) stressed out states that students are in as they arrive at the class. Particularly the early evening classes if they’ve just had to navigate their way through an evening commute.

There’s a simple exercise in grounding that I like to do at the start of many classes, it’s often overlooked as “just the start of class” but it could well be one of the most important – and simple – exercises I teach.

Just taking a moment to stop and stand (preferably with the knees slightly bent) and take a few deep breaths and imagine you have a strong, rooted connection to the ground can have a profound effect on the energy in (and around) the body. I often like to get my students to focus just on the soles of their feet and the connection between them and the ground, imagining that their legs are stable and strong, like the trunks of a tree.

The difference you can feel and see in people and the energy of the class after just a couple of minutes of doing this type of exercise is profound.

Bringing the focus – and energy – down from the head to the feet has an extremely calming effect on the mind and body. We feel more connected to ourselves and our bodies and less mentally distracted – and exhausted – from all of the external stimulus we’re surrounded by each day. The benefits are tremendous.

And that’s when we’re ready to start the class!

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