Keep Beautiful Ladies Wrist – This is the fifth principle as I learned it from my teachers and in the T’ai Chi Ch’uan form it means that the wrist is not bent from side to side nor front to back but is in a straight line down from the elbow through the wrist and to the fingers. The main reason for the wrist to remain straight is to allow the free flow of chi throughout the body and through the hands. The fingers are neither curled up nor held straight and tense but are opened softly to allow the chi to extend through to the finger tips.  In Chi Gung For Riders, I call it Keep Soft Hands.

Hands are a direct reflection of the quality of chi that flows through the body. If the body is hardened and overworked the hands will be stiff and cold to the touch and the bones will feel prominent and hard. A warm supple body that has a free flow of chi through it will also have warm supple hands with the bones cradled gently within the muscles. When the hands are soft the wrists, elbows, and shoulder joints will also be soft and supple and open to the flow of chi. A relaxed body is a supple and warm body.

Take a moment and look at your hands. They are your tools for expressing yourself in the world. You create with them, communicate with them and touch other beings with them. Your intentions shine through your hands.  Soft supple hands are very sensitive receptors and can sense texture, temperature, and intention. Intention is sent through the hands and the quality of the signal reflects the inner voice of the sender. I hope you love what you see in your hands.

Think for a moment about your hands and their job as a rider. Since they are a direct link to communicating with your horse through a bit to his mouth, it goes without saying that softness within the wrists and hands is of the utmost importance…especially to your horse. Your horse can read you like a big beacon and they know immediately who you are and what your intention is by the way you use your hands when being with them.

Your hands are dependent upon the quality of the joints before them and are a direct reflection of those joints… the wrist, elbow and shoulder. So softness in the hands really begins in the shoulder joint, to the elbow, through the wrist to the hands and fingers. The first thing you can practice regardless of whether you study T’ai Chi or not is to let go of your shoulders, let them drop back to their natural position. Don’t hold them back, or up, or down…let go of them and then trust that they know where they belong. It might feel like you are slumping but ask a friend to see if that is true or not. When you let go of your shoulders you will be more balanced over your ribcage. Shoulders like to sit quietly on top of the ribcage. This will take some practice, in fact, it is a life long practice. I tell students to relax their shoulders every time they look at their clock. When your shoulders relax, your elbows and wrists soften to your hands and out through your fingers.

Exercise: Many times during the day I will find myself holding onto my shoulders, they will be up and around my ears. I have become unaware of them through tension. I tell my clients that shoulders don’t make good earrings yet sometimes I find that is where I am wearing mine. I have to remind myself to let go of them. After 35 years of study, I still have to remind myself. They are much more relaxed and soft, but the inclination for them to creep upward is still in there somewhere and pesters me on a regular basis.

Remember to remember to relax your shoulders. When you become aware of the time…soften your elbows, let them hang from your shoulders. Soften your wrists and soften your hands. Become aware when you are using too much force to do a task and let go of the force you are using. That force is what hardens the hands and stiffens the joints in the arms. Think soft like you are touching a baby. The more you can think and practice soft the softer your hands become, and the more you will be able to listen and communicate in a gentle way through your hands. I think that you will discover a whole new world within your hands.

Keep soft hands.