Spinning Yarn and Tai Chi

Photo taken from our room at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska

For 15 years now, I’ve been studying and practicing T’ai Chi, that graceful flowing “martial art” you sometimes see in parks on Sunday mornings. It was recently shown in the movie “The Intern” with Robert DeNiro. It pops up in all sorts of places.

Well, this past Sunday, I got to my class a little early, in a one-time elementary school, now turned community center, and brought out my drop spindle. I’m still spinning that gorgeous Merino top from Malbrigo, and take it with me most places to spin when I have an odd moment. It’s remarkable how much I can accomplish in just a few minutes here and there.

Anyway, I’m spinning while waiting for class, and a few people came up to me to comment on my work. One person said, “this time of year, it could almost be a dreidel.” Interesting observation. Another noticed the way I was standing and I realized that I was alternating all weight on one foot and then shifting to the other.

It is a common practice of T’ai Chi, to stand with weight on one foot or the other, but not both evenly, simultaneously. It’s a good practice for a martial art, for developing strong legs, and for resting one leg while the other works. I also realized that the meditative quality of T’ai Chi translates very well to the way I feel when I’m spinning. I let my mind wander, or I concentrate on the amount of fiber I’m drafting out at one time. It’s very soothing, just like T’ai Chi.

So, I found a new T’ai Chi practice: Spinning yarn. I even think I inspired one of my classmates to take up spinning because of it. Who knew there would be a connection to these two activities?


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