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Getting better at listening to our knee(d)s

In a recent Taiji (Tai Chi) class I was giving instructions on how we can look after our knees as we go through the form.

This is a subject that has personal relevance to me as after 15 years or so of Taiji form and Qi Gong practise my knees would hurt after each hour of training.

At the time I was in my early 30s and I knew that this was not how my knees were meant to be.

It had even started effecting me outside of Taiji practice, I had a love of hiking and I was having to be very careful especially on descents, as my knees felt fragile.

Because of all of that I came to the conclusion that there had to be something wrong with how I was training. And it was in part because of this personal difficulty that I got into the practice of Feldenkrais.

Taiji was becoming more difficult for me to practice, my knees just weren't up for all the twists and weight transitions that I was asking them to do.

So I decided to change my attention, put it on a practice that I knew didn't cause me further pain, in fact after each lesson my knees felt better, more secure, more capable.

And over time I stopped worrying about them, walking was easier, even my taiji was improving without having to practice much.

And it was then that I came to a realisation; I didn't want to be the best at Taiji, or Qi Gong, or even Feldenkrais, I wanted to be the best at being myself.

In a recent class I told the students, if you keep pushing yourself past what is comfortable in the name of improving your taiji form, you will end up being an amazing taiji teacher, who can't even stand up.

My advise would be put more attention on looking after yourselves, and if you seek improvement, seek it in a way that is not in conflict with your own personal needs.

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