My Next Step in Personal Evolution

Steven Barnes
4 min readMar 2, 2022

This year, a major milestone, will be about seeking the connecting tissue between yoga and tai chi. The largest observable issue is that many yoga poses are “closed chain” in terms that arms and legs are pushing against gravity, while Tai Chi is “open chain” in that the arms are not engaged in the same way (push hands doesn’t do the same thing. If you have as much arm stress as you have with, say, Downward Dog, you’re doing it wrong.)

Now, anything I do or say here is not based on tradition. I don’t know anyone I can evaluate who has blended the two. I’m trusting that, at a certain point on the journey you know your body and mind and energy, and can make your own choices.

I found this to be true in studying sexual magic, when I realized that what was happening in my bio-mind was similar to something I’d experienced in the flow state while running, practicing tai chi (VERY rarely, but it happened) and even writing, when utterly immersed. There was something similar. And that was enough to create a kinesthetic “Rosetta Stone” showing the connection between disparate disciplines.

To the degree that that was valid, I’m looking for the same thing here, after having practiced and taught Tai Chi for forty years, yoga for most of my life, and various meditation forms since childhood.

The FEEL of the connection MIGHT be best expressed in a few moments:

  1. A standing Chi Gung exercise where you rub your hands together, and then stand with palms close to each other, and relax enough for each palm to feel the heat from the other. You separate the hands as far as possible, so long as you maintain this connection. It can feel like spider-webs between the palms, and/or a tingling feeling, like a limb waking up.
  2. The same sensation while actually doing the tai chi form. Demands serious relaxation and focus, real balance, so that the body is “hanging” on the bones rather than supported by muscle tension. If you can take this into push hands, the level of sensitivity is extraordinary.
  3. In pranayama, if your posture is fine, you can also sense this internal connection, this “tingling”
  4. And in Savasana “corpse pose” after a series of movements, if you really relax, you can get a bit of this same feeling as you slide into the “hypnogogic” state between consciousness and dream, the “Yoga Nidra” state is on the other side of this: the mind is awake while the body is asleep. A very…
Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.