In ChiRunning and ChiWalking, we practice getting aligned. Alignment applies to many aspects of these techniques:
- Your posture is aligned with a straight line between your shoulders, hipbones and ankles.
- Your left and right sides are aligned and moving symmetrically.
- Every part of your body is aligned in the direction you are headed.
- Your upper body doesn't sway side-to-side.
- Your hips don't move laterally as your foot hits the ground.
- Your body does not bounce up and down.
- Your arms don't cross your centerline.
- Your legs and feet are pointed forward as they swing.
- Your goals need to be in alignment with your own potential and desires and not with other people's ideas of what you should do.
We have one more component to add to alignment that helps pull it all together. Align your eyes with your destination. It sounds too simple to be meaningful, but you'll quickly see (and feel) how amazingly effective it is.
In T'ai Chi, it is called y'chi (pronounced ee-chee). It is best to understand y'chi with the example of a cat hunting its prey. I'm sure you've seen a cat that has just spotted a nearby bird. The cat fixes its gaze on its prey and seems to become frozen in place. Then, without breaking its gaze, the cat begins to slowly and quietly creep towards the bird in a motion that can only be describes as "a cat doing T'ai Chi." It's limbs are soft and its feet seem to be touching the ground ever so softly, so as to not make a sound. The one thing that doesn't change is the visual contact the cat keeps with the bird. That's y'chi. The visual focus of the cat is informing the cat's body how to move. It's not a thought process for the cat. The cat's y'chi is what is "pulling" the cat towards the bird.
All the great athletes utilize y'chi whether they know it or not. In soccer, the players never take their eyes off the ball. In hockey, it's the puck. You get the idea. When Tiger Woods stands over his golf ball, he first looks at his goal. Then he looks down at the ball. Before he begins his swing, he gathers all the focus he can muster on all levels. And then--while holding all that focus--he begins his swing and does not take his eyes off the ball until his club makes contact with it. That's y'chi.