Very Important Methods of Relaxing the Waist

In classic Tai Chi literature, there are many discussions about relaxing the waist, such as “the waist drives the motion,” “the origin of movement is in the waist and spine turning through the hips and arms,” “deliberately pay attention to the waist,” and “the trick lies between the two kidneys at the life gate, which is the key pivot for the upper and lower body.”

In Yang-style Tai Chi, relaxing the waist is emphasized as a crucial point: “The waist is the master of the whole body. Only when the waist is relaxed, then the feet are powerful, and the lower stance is stable. Changes between solidity and emptiness all come from the turning of the waist, thus it’s said that the source of command is in the space of the waist. Any lack of strength must be sought in the waist and legs.”

This shows that to practice Tai Chi well, one must place high importance on “relaxing the waist.” In other words, only by relaxing the waist can one truly enter the highest realm of Tai Chi.

Through training, the waist can become as flexible as a spring, agile as a willow, and smooth as a river. If so, the function of the kidneys is enhanced, the person’s vitality is vigorous, and the waist can fully perform its function of governing the body’s movements, thereby achieving the true Tai Chi movement of “strength originating from the feet, controlled by the waist, and expressed through the limbs” where “Qi flows through the body without obstruction.”

There are at least 7 methods for relaxing the waist in Tai Chi, and this article will introduce 3 of them:

**First Method of Relaxing the Waist: Squatting Up and Down**

The Squatting Up and Down method (also known as Wall-squatting) is a key part of making the Tai Chi form penetrate the body and is a secret skill for training the agile strength of the upper body. Squatting up and down is a full-body uniform exercise and a convenient way to maintain a good mental and physical state. The most basic posture is simply to squat.

It seems simple, but the entire process of the movement includes the transformation from Wuji (the action of standing or squatting down) to Taiji (the action of squatting and rising).

**Basic action:** Stand facing a wall, feet together, body centered and relaxed, perineum lifted, toes touching the base of the wall, shoulders rolled forward, chest hollowed and abdomen tucked in, squat down by pushing the waist back. When squatting, the head should not lean back or tilt; after fully squatting, rise slowly. Repeat this several times. While squatting, think of the Yongquan point on the sole of the foot, focusing on relaxing the whole body, pushing the waist back, allowing the spine to relax segment by segment: when rising, lead with the Baihui point or first think of the blue sky, then gradually straighten and stretch the spine.

**Special note:** When starting out, many people cannot meet these requirements; adjust foot position and distance according to your own body condition. The toes can initially be away from the wall, as far as you can manage to squat down. For older or less mobile individuals, place the toes away from the wall and feet apart to reduce difficulty, or even use supports like trees, bed frames, or door handles to assist in squatting. Initially, the movements don’t have to be perfect; the key is to persist. Younger people should try to squat in the standard posture as much as possible. When you start, you might fall backward before squatting down; in such cases, concentrate intensely and use the intention of “must succeed.” After some time of training, as the spine and waist relax, you will be able to squat and rise smoothly, and then you can perform the exercise as required—feet together, toes against the wall, completing squatting and rising movements, with 30 squats in a set, at least one set per day, the more the better.

**Second Method of Relaxing the Waist: Straight-leg Sitting**

The main purpose of the straight-leg sitting method for relaxing the waist is to open the life gate, helping us quickly reach the state of “Qi clinging to the spine,” thus effectively aiding us in relaxing the waist.

**Basic posture:** Sit on a hard bed (lay a mattress or a thin quilt), eyes slightly closed, legs straight, feet together, toes curled inward (feet raised), the body straight, the angle between the trunk and thighs should be less than 90°. Relax the waist backward, but the pelvis and waist should not slant back; instead, keep the chin tucked, jade pillow slightly lifted, maintaining the head upright.

**Special note:** During the process of straight-leg sitting, always pay attention to a specific point—the Yao Yu (at the sacral foramen) located at the junction of the lumbar spine and tailbone, where the Qi of the waist flows. When bending

the body, inhale and relax the waist backward and convex; upon exhaling and after relaxing, pay attention to the movement of the femoral heads and ilium outward, and the sacrum backward. Also, focus on the hip joints, the muscles of the legs rotating inward or outward as exerted, then relax, feel which muscles are moving. Additionally, notice the quadriceps of the thighs contracting back and then relaxing; the toes can also be curled up slightly. Regularly practicing this not only strengthens the centralized strength in the waist but also helps relax the muscles around the thigh root.

**Third Method of Relaxing the Waist: Walking Relaxation**

Everyone can walk, but not everyone can achieve waist relaxation through walking. The walking relaxation method can effectively promote vital energy, achieving physical and mental health.

**Basic posture:** Keep the upper body vertical to the ground, do not lean forward or back, gradually relax the center of gravity to the back leg. As the center of gravity moves, the front leg gradually relaxes and passively raises the heel, letting the toes touch the ground. Once the center of gravity is fully transferred to the back leg and the front foot is completely relaxed, the waist forms a concave arch. Then, shift the center of gravity to the front leg, maintaining the upper body vertical to the ground, and slowly move the center of gravity to the front leg. As the center of gravity moves forward, the back leg gradually relaxes and raises the heel, toes touching the ground, until the center of gravity is fully on the front leg, the back foot is completely relaxed, and the waist is vertical. During walking, it’s best to keep moving forward without stopping.

**Special note:** During the walk, relax your mind and body, and try not to think about anything. If your mind cannot calm down, count your steps as you walk. If possible, walking in circles of 8-10 steps each is more effective. Walking in circles not only relaxes the waist but also significantly relaxes the hips. As the ancient saying goes, “walk as if blind without a cane, naturally relying on one’s inherent nature, step low and steady, progress is only possible with solid footing.” Beginners should practice once in the morning and evening, about 30 minutes to an hour each time, gradually increasing the duration. If you feel unwell, rest appropriately before continuing.

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