“One of the Three Free Therapies...”
When we are young, growing, and full of energy, it is appropriate to do more physical activity then in our mid to later years. This is a great time for physical challenges, sports, etc.
However, as we enter the second stage of our lifespan, we should tone-down our activity level a bit and pay more attention to maintaining our strength. “Less is more.” “Quality over quantity.” These become our mantra. This is the stage of peak strength and ability.
In our last 30 years of life, more emphasis is placed on maintaining our flexibility and strength by very gentle, and slow movements, especially those coordinated with the breath. In this stage, our breath becomes more important than ever before, as maintaining good oxygen in the blood improves all bodily functions, increases our energy and promotes good blood circulation. As it has been said since ancient times, “Proper breathing is the fountain of youth.”
Limbering is the Foundation
Keeping your body limber is the most important aspect of any physical conditioning program. As Lao Tzu states in the Tao Te Jing, “Suppleness is the mark of life; that which is hard and inflexible is truly the mark of death.”
Therefore it is of great import that your daily exercises be founded on movements that maintain and improve on your body’s flexibility. By doing this, you keep your natural range of motion intact, strengthening joint movement, protecting yourself from injury, and maintaining good blood flow to all areas of your body.
“A busy hinge never rusts.”
Keeping your body flexible in this way makes your mind flexible as well. For if you think you have a open and flexible mind but your body gives you a different message, this is a signal that you have a lot more room to grow into a more flexible way of thinking.
Maintaining your natural strength
Your natural strength is important for stamina, both the mental and physical. Being overly stressed reduces stamina, and physical strength reduces stress. Our mind and body works together in this way. The best way to effect our mind is to change our body movements.
Exercising our muscles allows full range of motion while performing our daily work and makes the impossible possible. Keeping our body strong is also the best way to ensure good digestive function and assimilation of food for good nutrition. It also improves the circulation of old blood back to our heart for re-oxygenation. Consistent exercise also improves our confidence. And lastly, it allows us to maintain good posture and proper movement in order to prevent disease.
Things to Avoid
Soreness: if you feel sore after exercise, this means you over did it. It is possible to strengthen without tearing muscles, despite what you hear people say.
Stretching beyond your range of motion: this is the most common and tragic mistake people are making. Stretching within your range of motion not only improves your flexibility faster, it improves your body movement and functions.
Always doing the same exercises: this is another form of stagnation as your body become accustomed to the same movements. Vary your exercises for best all around health. The easiest way to do this is to taylor your activities to the season’s natural tendencies.
Set exercise programs: everybody is different and your practice must be tailored to you and by your abilities, stage of life, and season.
Workouts that add more stress to your life: if it is difficult or you have negative feelings about your practice, it will be difficult to continue and will create more stress. This is a common reason why some people, although they exercise frequently, often have difficulty loosing weight.
I hope this article has given you some new ideas to think about. Remember to keep a light heart and have FUN! Try to emulate the heart & mind of a child... Find rapture in your everyday life.
all good medicine,