If you don’t have regular access to live instruction, getting good feedback and improving your personal practice can be a challenge.
Over the years at Brookline Tai Chi, I’ve seen how having a place to come and practice with other people has made a huge difference for our students. Having a sense of community strengthens your motivation to practice and getting feedback from an instructor keeps you moving in the right direction.
So what can you do if you don’t have regular access to an instructor?
When I work with students remotely or connect with them on an occasional basis, here’s what I encourage them to do:
Good — Describe Your Practice in Writing
Whenever I consult with someone via email about their practice, here is the information that I ask for:
- How often and for how long you practiceÂ — describe the last two weeks exactly as they happened, not “what I typically do”
- What you practiced last week — describe the actual sets or movement patterns as well as any specific skills you are working on, or a particular problem you are trying to solve
- What you’ve been practicing for the last 3 months — with the same kind of information you included in last week’s practice
- What your current practice goals are (“I don’t really know” is a totally valid one)
If you put together a written description with this information, we can then have a meaningful conversation about the direction you want to head in and I can pinpoint what you need to work on through follow-up questions and answers.
Follow-up feedback usually takes one of two forms. Either we will have a phone conversation about where to go next, or I will write a “next steps” plan that can range from what to do for the next 2 weeks all the way up to what to do for the next six months.
We’ll look at the three most important movement practice categories — depth, transfer, and new skill-building — and decide which one you need to focus on at this stage in your practice.
Better — Add Pictures
Adding a visual element to your written descriptionÂ gives me a lot more insight into what’s going on in your body. I can start to see patterns and alignments that you might not be aware of and shape your practice advice accordingly.
The follow-up is the same, a phone call, a skype video call or even a written plan, but the information coming in is better.
Best — Capture Video
In addition to the written description, video clips reveal the most about how you move and what you are working on. The problem with a picture is that it only captures one moment in time. To really get into your deep movement patterns, and I know this sounds weird, I need to see you move!
Sharing a private video online is getting easier and easier. All you need is:
- a recording device (most cell phone cameras will do the trick)
- a YouTube account — set the video to private when you upload it and send me the link — no one else will ever see it
Improving Your Practice Anytime, Anywhere
With our ever-improving communications media, sharing your practice and getting feedback on it is getting easier and easier. Even if you don’t have regular practice partners, teacher feedback, and you’re learning primarily from books, DVDs, or a few lessons you picked up at a workshop once, it no longer means that you’re on your own in your practice journey.
Ready for a little feedback to recharge your practice?