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3 Breathe In Willi your wrists and fingers loose, raise your forearms, as if floating in water, until they become roughly parallel to the ground. Take care that your shoulders do not rise up as well - this would only introduce tension. Be aware of how even these fairly simple movements might affect other parts of the body: the loose wrists, for example, inform your body straight away that you intend to relax your arms. All this makes a difference to the way you feel about the movements.

4 Breathe Out Slowly straighten your fingers. Imagine the energy coming from between your shoulders to straighten your fingers as you exhale. As you do this, however, make sure your palms do not lift or appear to push forward. In this instance, it is sometimes more helpful to think of the wrists dropping rather than the fingers rising. Dropping the wrists is a letting go' kind of movement, which is preferable to the more tensile operation involved in raising the fingers.

Opening (continued)

You can actually repeal this brief opening sequence of raising and lowering the arms as often as von wish - especially if yon feel it helps yon lo relax and adjust lo the slow rhythm of movement required for the rest of the form. Beginners often find this helpful. fust lo gel started.

right hand
right hand

5 Breathe In Draw your elbows back a little - not too far. otherwise the-area behind, between your shoulder blades could become tense. Do not lean back as your elbows withdraw; only your arms should move. Also, make sure you keep space between your arms and sides. Tliis allows the breath to flow easily in the chest and is pari of the whole concept of recognizing your own personal space. Make room for yourself! Remember that tai chi works oil all levels: physical, mental and emotional.

6 Breathe Out Lower your arms and sink down, letting your knees bend a little more. Relax your shoulders, chest and arms, and imagine your weight sinking into the ground. Think of pushing a ball down through water as you do this, although remember - whenever you hear the word 'push' in lai chi it is always meant to be without muscular tension, with die arms remaining light at all times. Continue to keep that straight back. Bear in mind that sinking down is not the same as leaning forward. Never lean.

Turn Right

For those with stiff knees, or who - at this early stage - might find it difficult to get the right foot around ninety degrees, don 't worry! Just turn as Jar as is comfortable and then set your foot down. In time you will become more flexible, and your knees will be able to let your J'eet follow the indicated position.

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7 Breathe In limply the weight horn your right side by sinking into your left foot. Then slowly pivot on your right heel to point your toes west. At the same time raise your right forearm and begin to cup your right elbow with your left palm as your waist turns towards the right: your right hand should be loosely curved. Remember the terminology here: in cupping the elbow (seepage 15) the hand does not literally make contact with the elbow or support it in any physical sense.

8 Breathe Out Bend your l ight knee to align with the tip of your foot. You might find that your left knee wants to bend a little too. Let it go. Relax! By now. your head, hips and shoulders have turned towards the west, and your hands have moved position slightly so that they are holding an imaginary ball - the right hand curved over on top of the ball, and the left hand supporting the ball from underneath. Meanwhile, your gaze becomes directed outwards, looking ¡list over your right hand, as if towards a far-off horizon.

Ward Off

During the Ward Off. the hands do what is sometimes called palming - that is. the surfaces of both palms figuratively stroke' each other at a distance.

one rising as the other Jails. The subtle energy connection between the hands, that yott should eventually/eel. is therefore maintained.

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left hand left hand right hand right hand

9 Breathe In Prepare to step ahead, towards the south, by bringing all your weight into your right leg and drawing in your left toes just a little towards your right heel. This drawing in of the toes is a typical preparation for moving into a wide stance and helps to test your balance before stepping - which you will do in a moment by extending your left leg out towards the south. At this stage, the right palm turns just a little forward, ready to 'stroke' downwards.

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