Often I am asked, "What is the best exercise I can do when I only have a little time to spare?"
There are a number of options - 8 Pieces Brocade, 5 Animal Frolics, Wild Goose Qigong, perhaps some of the shorter Tai Chi forms. But by far the highest benefits to effort ratio, are the Silk Reeling Exercises (or Chan Ssu Gong) of Chen style Tai Chi .
Silk reeling involves the shifting of weight between the legs, in combination with spiralling movements of the arms and legs. It improves the posture, loosen the 18 joints and increase the body's natural range of movement.
The name - silk reeling - is used to describe the quality of movement - like a weaver unravelling a cocoon of silk. If the movements are too quick or jerky, the silk snaps. Once this unending flow is fully understood, the movements become beautiful, powerful and deeply beneficial.
These movements increase the secretion of synovial fluid which lubricates the joints, keeping them supple. People who have been practising silk reeling have reported better coordination and an opening up of shoulders, back and waist. Silk reeling is also a Tai Chi fundamental requirement for self-defence. The Chan Ssu principles should be inherent in every aspect of the movement from posture to posture, circling, spiralling, opening and closing, advancing and retreating, powerful like a rolling ocean.