The summer workout madness continues and today I went to my first boxing class (since a very long time). I was quite curious to see how good a physical foundation and awareness taichi has built for me, and how I would feel trying a different kind of sports.

Like yoga presents similarities with taichi, boxing shares common aspects with taichi too. After all, both combat sports and martial arts are meant to be used in fights. Today’s class at Golden Gloves was nonetheless more about the workout than getting into the ring and breaking noses. This doesn’t mean it was less painful! However, it was quite comforting to see once again that I was neither the first one to be out of breathe, nor the last one to finish the twenty push-ups (thank you taichi! thank you my wonderful Master and teachers!).

The last part of the training reminded me of a common thing we do in taichi: practice the same move at different speeds. This is how it works: First, hit the punching bag with as much power as possible, stepping forward and backwards, turning waist when hitting. For 30 seconds. Second,  no stepping, no power, just stand in front of the punching bag and hit it as fast as possible. 30 seconds. Third, hit the punching bag and lift your knees as high as possible at the same time. Another 30 seconds. And we go 3 rounds of these 3 steps, which feel like eternity. When Chris, our instructor, at Round 3 – Step 2, accelerated the rhythm for me by drumming onto my bag in a tyrannical beat, I felt like rage was about to tear my chest open. “AAAAAARRRRGH!” I think poor Chris almost went deaf. Damn, that was hardcore!… but so good!

At the end of the session, I signed up for 10-class membership. Let’s see how it goes as the summer unfolds and how this new workout interacts with my taichi practice.

This morning my dear friend Corine, a talented dance and yoga teacher from the U.S., gave me a call: “Wanna try a Yoga Therapy class with me??”

If you know me a little bit, you might know that anything related to therapy has big chances to hook me. On top of that, since summer break has started, the workout madness is up! Taichi of course, but I’m also down for all kinds of different sports. “Sure!” I said to Corine. A few hours later I met her at My Soul Yoga, a beautiful studio close to Fuxing park, where everything, each detail has been thought through for you to feel pampered and to find your balance.

Our instructor is a gorgeous man from Argentina.

If you know me a little bit, you might know that what attracts me to a man at first is not his muscular body, but his timber of voice. Our instructor did make me lose focus, but not for the reasons you imagine. His accent is a bit confusing at some points. “Your thighs” become “your tights”. I wish my thighs were tight though.

Eighty minutes of what they call “restorative yoga”, mainly postures to realign the spine and open the chest. I was quite surprised to notice how well I was doing, when most of the other participants were suffering like hell. Despite the last months of no regular exercise, it seems that four years of taichi practice really did the job, when it comes to body consciousness.

One exercise got me thinking. We were asked us to cross our arms in front of our chest, then notice which arm was on top, and finally reverse the arms. It felt a bit strange, but the movement was an easy one. “By changing your habits, you uncondition yourself. And if you uncondition yourself, you can change on deeper levels.” This immediately made me think of taichi and something I experienced and learnt when I was training at the Yangshuo Taichi and Kungfu School: by working on your body awareness, you get access to your mind and spirit on a deeper level, one that allows you to actually change your mental patterns.

This coming Tuesday, I’ll be doing a boxing session. First time since July 2009 that I’m going to put some gloves on again. In October 2010, Taichi came into my life and (so far) never left it. It should be interesting to compare combat sports to martial arts.

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