Classic writings on tai chi tell us to relax and move from the waist. But most people don’t interpret “the waist” properly from the Chinese. This will mess up your tai chi! The tai chi waist, or “yao” refers to a very large area of the body – the lower transverse section of the abdomen. It encompasses the dantian (center of qi and center of gravity) as well as the spine.
Watch this short video clip to learn what “the waist” means in tai chi:
The inside of the waist area is the dantian – it’s like the axle. Turning horizontally from a relaxed waist should make you feel like your legs and feet are like screws drilling into the floor, but not torquing the knees.
Now that you know what is meant by “the waist” and how to move from it in tai chi moves, you will gain much more power, structural integrity, peng solidity, and of course, qi flow.
Tip: To help you relax the waist, “Sit while you stand.” **All the time.**
There is lots of advice and discussion on the Tai Chi Classics covered in the content I edited in my teacher’s book: The Dao of Taijiquan (7th ed.) – by Master Jou Tsung Hwa. The “waist” – or “yao,” in Chinese – is mentioned in that text in several pages. It is my hope that this post and video clip will help you understand better what is meant by “the waist.”
Note: Special thanks to Paula of Internal Gardens for inspiring me to create this post for you!
Thanks, a clear and useful explanation.
I was a clear and easy to understand explaination. I am just beginning to explore Tai Chi and wanted to get the most information I can before joining a group/class. Thank you for putting me on the correct path.
That’s great! Hope you found something that has led to some good changes for you.
Can you explain why the Chen stylists do separate their waists from their hips and break the rule of keeping the shoulders and hips together, please?
In this style the legs do power the waist but different to Yang, in that you can move your hips sideways with leg screwing and this sideways movement can allow a relaxed waist to turn.
I’d be grateful for your thoughts on this matter.
Thank you and best wishes,