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Movement and Exercise

Exercise

For many people the very word 'exercise' brings dread. memories of school lessons, school teachers and fellow students apparently so at ease and confident in their bodies'. Relax, exercise doesn't have to be punishment. The most natural exercise in the world is walking. Humans evolved to walk, our unique bipedal design, steps powered by strong, elastic, energy efficient tendons enabled us to literally walk around the world, populating every continent.

Walking

Walking is the perfect starting point for any long term campaign to regain health and wellbeing. If you need to address additional problems such as poor flexibility, balance or concentration something a little more engaging could be just what you need. Building some walking into your day can make an amazing differene to your health. It doesn't need to be great distances, just start with a few minutes and build from there.

Tai Chi Chuan:

Most people are at least superficially familiar with Tai Chi, the “slow motion martial art”. What is not understood by most people, including the majority of people training in it, is that at it’s core Tai Chi is body training process that is designed to educate the body to move in a natural and relaxed way. It does this body eduction by over writing poor and inefficient postural habits. It is in essence a re-programming technique; a software upgrade for your body!

Dao Yin:

This is a less well known activity in the west. Although superficially similar to Indian Yoga, philosophically it is very different. Whereas Indian Yoga was designed as a spiritual pursuit, Dao Yin was from the start a more pragmatic system to help relax and train the body in order to promote good health.

Combining deep relaxed breathing and gentle stretches held for several seconds, the aim is to lengthen and strengthen muscles, relax the mind and nervous system prompting the para sympathetic nervous (the rest and digest processes in the body) system to assert its influence over the sympathetic nervous system (the fight and flight sytem).

Meditation / Mindfulness / Breath Work

In recent years mindfulness has been much in vogue. There is of course nothing new under the sun and mindfulness is no exception. Traditional meditation techniques can be incredibly powerful in helping you to cope with the pressures in modern life. The influence that the subconscious on both mind and body cannot be underestimated.

A crucial aspect of meditation is developing an awarenesss of good breathing technique, few people realise how poor breathing technique can detrimentally affect both physical and mental health. In fact few people are aware that there is such a thing as a technique for breathing; it's just something that you do!

Yangsheng Dao:

I can't claim to have invented anything that you have read above. The concepts of; holistic health, body balance and symmetry are concepts that go back over two thousand years. In ancient China the various skills were often gathered under a single heading; Yangshen Dao. Simply meaning 'nourishing life'. It really is that simple.

My aim is just to strip away some of the odd terminology and cultural specific aspects that don't help and bring to you the essence of the art. So that you can apply them in a meaningful way to your life in the 21st Century.

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Stephen Forde meditation posture

Above: A traditional meditation posture, is not essential in day to day mindfulness training and breathwork.

A walk in the hills, one of my favourite forms of exercise.

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