Have you ever felt as though despite making all the right lifestyle choices, you don’t achieve your physical goals? How about a new approach? The Chinese view is that the whole health of the body, including what it looks like, is controlled by our organs. It’s not just about cardio, calories in versus calories out and working key muscle groups.
The thinking behind Chinese martial arts such as Qi gong and Tai chi is that encouraging good Qi and blood flow to the internal organs will strengthen them and help them to function optimally. A healthy toned body is the outward manifestation of the interior health of the organs. Basically, get the inside right and it will be reflected on the outside!
Exercise does not need to be strenuous to be effective. Believe it or not, you can do too much exercise, especially if you’re feeling tired or unwell. It only takes a few minutes of low-intensity exercise, such as walking, to trigger the release of endorphins and increase your metabolism.
A vigorous cardio workout is fine when you feel able to do it. However, it is crucial to prepare the body beforehand both energetically and physically and also to transition out of the stressed state afterwards by re-engaging your parasympathetic (rest) nervous system after aerobic exercise. Why?
*Exercise stresses the body (studies available if needed). The elevated adrenaline and cortisol increases appetite. so primal is this response it is likely to overwhelm to the point of “self-sabotage” and will thus at best make the process incredibly hard to do or at worst undermine all your best intentions. The result? You’re left feeling hopeless, dis-incentivised and demoralised.
*On the days we drag ourselves to the gym, we often do feel better after a workout, largely due to increased circulation and oxygen levels. But the increased stress makes this counter-productive, because the exercise is straining your organs at the same time. Our organs control the health of the body, so it’s vital to look after them.
Fatigue is your body telling you that your organs need nourishing and are depleted. So, the worst thing you can do is stress them further.
If you want to strengthen your organs and improve your overall health, the key is to improve oxygen and circulation whilst your body is relaxed. This is why ‘active relaxation’ like yoga and Qi Gong/Tai Chi are so beneficial – you are separating the benefit of circulation from the taxation on your body.
The ancient Taoist sages (Chinese philosophers) extolled the virtue of ‘soft’ rather than ‘hard’ exercise. Qi Gong is the use of breath work for self-healing and is one of the pillars of Chinese medicine. If you visit China, every morning you’ll see the public parks filled with locals moving as one in a languid, bewitching dance.
Tai chi is not strenuous, but it has been shown to have a positive effect on muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. It improves fitness and endurance levels of the heart and lungs. One study in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that tai chi was nearly as effective as jogging at lowering risk of death.
The Chinese masters knew this, so before exercise they would always practice an energetic and circulatory ritual to transition the body. Our Reset ritual is based on this knowledge and transitions your body before a workout and afterwards to relax the body and put it back into rest phase. This will enable your gym session to really deliver the results you want.
If you want exercise to become a regular part of your life, without it feeling like a constant battle, then you must choose a form that you enjoy. The Chinese believe that our organs have certain emotional as well as physical functions. The heart is known as the ‘Emperor of the body’. We know it pumps blood around the body – but it’s also responsible for joy. Keeping your heart happy is paramount to your wellbeing – so approach your workout with positive emotion to maximize the benefits!
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