"As a long time student of T'ai Chi, it came to my attention that the direction you do T'ai Chi is important, but I can't find anyone with the same answers or reasons. In the morning, you should start in the eastern direction; during the day, south; and, in the evening west because of the energy. As it was described to me, if you put a tomato plant in each window (north-east-south-west) of your home, the tomato grow less in the north window and best in the south window. Does any of it matter what direction? My next question is, what if you live on the other side of the equator ? Is this just the opposite ? I hope you can help."
- John, email, December 18, 2005
The direction is important if you are trying to teach, learn or describe the movements for another person. It simplifies the description if the teacher or writer can use compass or clock directions. I talk about this on one of my webpages.
When learning, I recommend you always start facing in the same direction. The location of your regualar practice will likely dictate the direction from which you start and move in a particualar location. After you have learned a form, you can can start in any direction and do the form correctly.
Feng Shui, qigong and taoist alchemy make a great deal about directions both literally and metaphorically. These arts might give you some ideas about the correct direction. North is yin, cool, dark, shady, and feminine; South is yang, warm, sunny, bright, and masculine.
Indeed, plants thrive on sunlight, water, and warmth, part of the day, and so do we. But, I'm not sure how this helps answer your question.
I live where the skies can be very clear and the sun quite bright and hot. This fact dictates my direction of outdoor practice depending upon the time of day - more than anything else. (I go where the glare is less and the shade more.) So, in the southern hemisphere my starting direction would be different on a bright sunny day.
What is the right direction to face when we begin the form? Answers vary widely. In my opinion, it is not really all than important ... just practice daily.