It has been a terrible ski season here in Vancouver this winter, so far. There has been no new snow falling on our mountains since I can't remember when and the snow they make at the local ski spots gets quickly eroded away so you have to get up there early to really enjoy it.
I finally got my lazy butt up there for the first time this winter and the run I picked to start on was so "slushy" I fell over within the first minute of skiing. (So much for Tai Chi Master) As I'm struggling to get back up, one of the ski patrol folks comes over and asks if I'm ok. I was ok, but very embarrassed and I have the most ridiculous time trying to get back upright once I've fallen over if both skis are still attached. Maybe someday I'll have the necessary core strength, but what I did, and what I usually do is to just release one ski and then I can plant a foot and leverage myself back up to standing.
Ok, so he tells me the other slopes are less slushy than this one and I should check them out. So I make my way down the rest of the run without any major problems and head over to the other lift that's open. And sure enough, he's right, the snow is way better on those runs. Must be how the sun hits it.
(I know, you're thinking "What has this got to do with Tai Chi?!" Relax, be patient.... )
But I'm still not feeling the "flow" of it. I'm expending WAY more effort than I usually have to make it down a simple green run. What's going on here. And then, all of a sudden, I'm in the groove. Huh, what is the difference? I figure I'm back to ski-normal and I can start hitting the blue runs.
Nope! Well, yes, I can make it down the blue run but it was a LOT of effort and struggle. Usually I just fly down these things! And then it came to me. Time to chi-ski! (which is what I was doing without being aware of it when it felt effortless for that brief couple of moments)
What is chi-ski? I made up the word so I get to tell you what it is. And I really like how it sounds. Kinda like cheeky only with an "s" in it. Essentially, it is just like chi running only you're skiing. I get back up to start a new run and sure enough, as soon as I start chi-skiing, it's effortless again. What I do when I chi-ski is get into my Tai Chi wu-ji posture while on the skis, relax, push off and sink my Tantien into the foot that I need to weight to execute my turn. And then back into the other foot for the next turn, ad infinitum and before I know it, I'm back down at the entrance to the lift. And skiing is fun again. Relaxed. Easy. Effortless.
Of course, if you don't have the experience of using your Tantien to focus and execute your Tai Chi movements, you won't have any idea what I'm talking about. In which case, you need to ask your teacher about it and whether your Tai Chi is ready for that kind of work.
So I hope you all go out and chi-ski and let me know how it feels for you. It's just another way of practicing Tai Chi while you're out having fun.
Relaxing into my Tantien,