One of our students showed me this video. It is an excellent demonstration of what my teacher Bill Ryan calls the “two-year-old dancing at a wedding,” or the “two-year-old bounce.” He uses this move to help new qigong and tai chi students begin to feel the natural springiness of their joints.
This springiness is provided by the cushion of synovial fluid in the joint spaces, and the elasticity of the ligaments that hold them together.
The joints of two-year-olds are very springy and full of fluid. So it is easy and natural for them to feel and use this springiness when they move. And they seem to find it very enjoyable.
As we get older we tend to lose touch with this springiness for various reasons. We may accumulate tension in our bodies that inhibits our ability to move naturally. We may develop habitual movement and postural patterns that compress or distort our joints.
Regardless of how it happens, if we don’t use the natural motion of our joints, we lose it over time.
If you receive proper instruction, then practicing qigong or tai chi is a great way to maintain and even regain some of your natural spring. Tai chi and qigong movements are designed to loosen and lubricate the joints, and to help maintain or improve the elasticity of the ligaments.
The first steps in this process are to learn to feel your joints, and to learn to stand and move in ways that allow the joints to move freely and naturally.
The two-year-old bounce is a simple way to get a sense of the springiness of your joints.
If you want to try this at home, please remember that you may not have the same degree of spring in your joints as a two-year old does. To feel into your joints, you need to keep your bounce pretty small and light.
Rather than propelling yourself up and down strongly with your muscles, try to relax and feel into the joints of your feet, ankles, knees and hips as you lightly bounce yourself up and down. If you relax your upper body, keep your spine gently lengthened, and keep a little space in your armpits you may feel the bounce in the joints of your upper body as well.
A nice side effect of the two-year-old bounce is that the image of a two-year-old happily bouncing to the beat often causes people to smile, relax, and soften their bodies, minds, and energy a bit. It puts people at ease. At that is exactly where you need to be to catch the feel of this.
It seems to work for the little girl in the video. Finding the right song may help to get you in a bouncing mood, as well.