Just this breath and the movement that flows from it.”

I was practicing Ai Chi in my neighborhood outdoor pool last summer and my new filmmaker friend asked if I was staging “Performance Art”.

I describe Ai Chi as similar to Tai Chi – slow, deliberative progressive movements with an emphasis on breathing and flow – in water up to one’s shoulders.

Ai Chi was developed in 1993 by Jun Konno of Aquadynamics Institute, Yokohama, Japan.
> link to definitions, benefits, posture diagrams and video. (at the bottom off the page is an excellent video introduction (from Brazil) with titles of the movements in Portuguese)

This gentle exercise is all about letting go, releasing tension, improving flexibility, perceiving body awareness and relaxation. All sorts of benefits have been attributed to this practice, however I know it allows me to meditate in a water setting that alone is relaxing and puts my mind and body at ease.

I use a 50 minute recording by my Ai Chi teacher on my waterproof MP3 player. It begins:

“Wiggling your toes into the sand, your feet feel heavy, your body feels light and floating with the water…”

Yes, decreasing stress and increasing energy are essential ways to enhance inner vision and prepare to practice creativity.

“…you have good balance and posture, the crown of the head’s up tall…”

“…muscles returning to their peaceful spots as you float and rest”

“Exhale shift, deep breath here with the front foot, the right foot, rising on the inhale, landing front on the letting go.”

I have relied on Ai Chi in the past to get through stressful times, and recently I am practicing it to relax, stretch and strengthen a strained back. I am fortunate in New Orleans to have access to an outdoor pool that is heated all winter. Cloud spotting overhead, sunshine on my face, and a light wind in my hair only add to the exhilaration of being in the water.

A day in the painting studio after Ai Chi is a blessing.

Above: © Daryl D. Johnson, Shifting, Oils on Canvas, 32 x 54″

© Daryl D. Johnson, Ripple, Oils on Canvas, 10 x 20″