Tai Chi Yang Exercises

The Short Yang Form developed by Cheng Man-Ching is a modified version of the Long Yang Form and is the one most commonly practised in the West. The first four postures are shown here. All the movements are performed slowly and smoothly with no pause between the postures, just a steady flow of movement from beginning to end. Throughout the Form, the body is relaxed, breathing is deep and the mind is tranquil but alert. Before you begin breathe into your lower abdomen, and relax. Rest your tongue lightly on the roof of your mouth.

Posture one – attention, preparation and beginning

1. Begin by standing in a relaxed and upright posture, feet at a right angle pointing diagonally outwards to each corner. At the start, the body weight is evenly distributed between the feet, 50 per cent on each foot. The fingers rest lightly on the outside of the legs.

2. Bend both knees slightly and let your weight sink down, then sink all the body weight down through the right leg into the right foot, without leaning across. Step across to shoulder width with the ‘empty’ left leg, toes of the left foot pointing straight ahead. Transfer 70 per cent of weight to the left leg, while turning the waist (and therefore the whole body) to the right corner. Keeping 70 per cent of body weight in the left leg, turn the whole body to the front. The right foot comes to the front as the waist turns, making the feet shoulder-width apart and parallel. The backs of the hands face forwards.

3. Relax the wrists, let the arms float up and away from the body, as if moving in water. When the hands reach shoulder height (palms down), gently extend the fingertips.

4. Draw the hands back in towards the body by dropping the elbows. Relax the wrists and let the hands float down the front of the body, coming to rest just in front of and slightly below the waist, as if resting on a cushion of air. The majority of your weight is still in the left leg.

Posture two – ward off left

1. Sink 100 per cent of your weight into the left leg. Turn the whole body 90 degrees to the right, pivoting on the empty right heel. Feel as if you are holding a large ball, with the right hand in front of the chest, palm down, and the left hand under it, palm up. Now shift the weight 100 per cent on to the right leg, as if carrying the ball forwards. Pick up the empty left leg, and step directly forwards, toes pointing to the front, keeping the weight on the right leg.

2. Turn the waist left, to face the front. At the same time, bring the left hand up, palm facing towards the chest. The right hand floats down to just outside the right thigh, palm down. As the weight shifts to 70 per cent in the left leg, the right foot simultaneously comes round to 45 degrees.

Posture three – ward off right

1. Sink all the weight into the left leg. Turn to the right – turning the left palm face down and the right palm upwards as if you are once more holding a large ball. Pick up the right foot and step so that the heels are again shoulder-width apart.

2. As the waist turns to face the right hand side, the weight shifts 70 per cent into the right foot, and the left foot turns 45 degrees. Bring the right palm up to face the chest, with the left fingertips looking into the right palm.

Posture four- roll back, press and push

1. Turn to the right. The fingertips of the right hand point upwards in a relaxed way. The left arm moves horizontally with the left fingertips almost touching the right elbow, palm facing the body. The weight remains 70 per cent on the right leg, the remainder on the left.

2. As the waist turns to the left, begin shifting weight into the left leg. The arms follow the movement of the body until the right hand is horizontal. The left hand then begins to flow down with the movement of the waist to the left. Allow 100 per cent of your body weight to settle into the left leg.

3. Turn the waist back to the right and let the left arm follow this movement. All the body weight remains in the left leg. The left palm comes across to rest against the right wrist, opposite the centre of the chest.

4. Press forwards, keeping the left palm against the right wrist. The weight shifts 70 per cent into the front leg. Make sure that the heels are still shoulder-width apart, with the right toe pointing forwards and the left foot at 45 degrees.

5. Separate the hands and sink the weight 100 per cent back into the left foot. The fingertips are now shoulder- width apart and at shoulder height.

6. Move the body weight forwards 70 per cent into the right leg. The arms and hands remain in the same position.