When snow turns up, my dogs’ sniffers turn on. Big time. They sniff snow like I sniff a kitchen with chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. A normally 15 minute walk could extend into an hour if I don’t put my foot down.
That’s the problem. Putting my foot down on slush and ice while two big dogs gleefully plow their face into every bit of snow.
Legend has it 70 miles per hour winds can’t knock over someone in a strong horse stance, illustrated in the picture below (taken during trip to the Shaolin Temple in China, 2002).
Great. But can it keep me upright while walking in a winter wonderland with two dogs?
The answer is, well, kind of.
The key is “rooting,” which basically means being aware of the connection between your feet and the surface under them and consciously sinking your center of gravity.
As important as that concept is to stance training, including horse stance, it’s challenging to actually feel it, even to seasoned artists. Walking mindfully is super-important. But my wonderful tai chi teacher also taught me a little exercise anyone can do to get a feel for it without having to train for hours every day. So, here it is …
- Stand facing a wall, about one foot distance away from it, feet parallel
- Place your hands on the wall as if you’re doing a push-up from the wall
- Imagine you’re holding a ball between your torso and the wall. The upper half of your torso (chest and upper abdominals) has to curve slightly up and over it while your lower half (lower abs, pelvis) has to curve slightly under it.
- If you just push with your hands, you’ll push yourself backwards and drop the ball. So instead of doing a push-up, it should feel like you’re pushing yourself down into your feet. Your thigh and core muscles will tighten to do this. Your body shouldn’t move at all.
You’ll probably have to play around, but that’s a rough feeling of rooting.
When walking over a slick surface, I try to create that same feeling. The awareness of the bottom of my feet clues me in as soon as I start to slide. And because of the muscles that must contract in order to make that curved, sinking feeling, I feel much more solid and steady.
Give it a try. And if you find yourself still off-center, check out a post about properly aligning yourself while walking to protect yourself from injury.
Thank you for stopping by today!