The junction between the low back and pelvis can be a springing off point for the lumbars to expand and contract to effectively engage a tai chi movement. As many muscles cross a joint, a good working knowledge of anatomy is helpful for knowing which muscles may be aiding or hindering a movement due to excessive tension, hypertonicity or chronic shortening. It is essential to train a flexible, strong and resilient body. This will help in development and progress of good tai chi over time.
Sculpting motion aids the student to stabilize his pelvis. When an instructor stabilizes the student’s pelvis, he can direct alignment and this can help in correcting spinal distortions. This type of guided stabilization can be done by stabilizing the sacrum and hip joint via the anterior superior iliac spine and sacrum. Also self stabilization or assisted stabilization of the pelvis helps to orient the hips and low back into a specific shape or angle. This will create a great difference in how a student will experience a tai chi move.
This sculpting will help the movement to become more fluid and connected and will further allow the spine to stretch in rotation. This stretching will help to increase disc space within and in between the spinal vertebrae. Sometimes movement spirals will appear and reveal themselves especially when one can self stabilize the pelvis in the correct orientation. The movement will then give a wondrous feeling of almost floating and moving itself. One can experience the separation or decompression of the spine as well as the upward lifting and gentle separation of the spinal vertebrae in motion. This movement can be generated upwards as well as downwards.
Self stabilization of the pelvis entails lumbar separation. This will also allow the instructor the opportunity to palpate motion and vertebral separation of the lumbar spine as well as the muscular movement that is occurring with the tai chi motion. This palpation of lumbar separation provides the instructor the opportunity to assess and be aware of any possible distortion in the area.
One possibility would be if there is too much lordosis. Instructors can ask themselves, is the lower back frozen in lordosis during the movement? Is there any vertebrae separation during the movement? Is there freedom of hip flexion and extension in the stationary position as well as during the movement?
Further to this, one can palpate tissue movement throughout the whole vertebral column and assess the nature of the alignment of the spine from the lumbars, through the thoracic and up to the cervical vertebrae. Certain muscle groups attach to the pelvis. It is these muscles that will allow the student to fully express the orientation needed for self stabilization of the pelvis. If certain muscles are contracted and tight, then the student may be restricted from moving into an ideal pelvic alignment.
Self-stabilization of the pelvis is important because it allows the participation and element of self directing of one’s movement. A simple example of self stabilization of the pelvis would be where the student flexes his own hip flexors and lumbars so as to achieve a straight lower spine.
The interesting aspect of tai chi is that the body is always revealing strengths and weaknesses through tai chi movement. Any distortions or deviations from the ideal normal expression of the move can provide insights into the student’s prevailing problems. Sculpting and working a tai chi move can further the assessment of the body and bring out any distortions or disturbances in the way the person performs the move.
It is aways good to employ other types of modalities such as massage therapy, yoga, etc. to address these specific areas of blockages to those targeted muscles to help them achieve optimal function.