Since I don’t often practice taiji in front a mirror, I catch myself looking down to check my stances. I have been corrected on this more than a couple of times from my Chen taiji instructor. He would tell me to try and *feel* the correct alignment instead of looking down to check.
What this ultimately means is I still have difficulty keeping the first point of the 10 essential principles of taiji as noted by Yang Chengfu. That is:
An intangible and lively energy lifts the crown of the head.
This refers to holding the head in vertical alignment, with the spirit threaded to the top of the head. One must not use strength; using strength will stiffen the neck and inhibit the flow of chi and blood. One must have the conscious intent of an intangible, lively, and natural phenomenon. If not, then the vital energy will not be able to rise.
I guess it really means that my basics are not quite there, else why would I need to check my stances? In fact, a bow stance should be ingrained within my body now, but I admit that it’s not. Sometimes, I feel the width of my stance is too narrow or the angle of the rear foot is just not right. Another thing I will check is the angle of my shin in relation to the ground (going for a 90 degree angle here). Additionally, for some reason, the angle of my rear foot in repulse monkey is never truly *right*…
For some reason, I have a problem with single legged stances. In golden rooster stands on one leg, I often check the alignment of my hips because I will usually sink into the hip of the weighted leg to compensate for my lack of balance resulting in the plane of my hip extending beyond the edge of my foot. I check for this type of thing in every balance or single legged posture.
Maybe if I practiced in front of a mirror or recorded myself on video more I would not have to check myself during form practice… Anyhoo.. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing as I am more aware of my own shortcomings, but looking to check stances must be rectified if I am to adhere to the first principle and keep my head on tight 🙂