Now that signs of warmer weather are upon us it’s time to think about wakening up! Nature provides us with daily signs of new life and we can smell and feel it in the air. So what are you doing to bring new life to your body? If you have ever visited China and walked in any park just after sunrise, you will have seen hundreds of Chinese performing taijiquan and many other forms of qigong, all in pursuit of good health and longevity. Do they have the secret to prolonging youth? Well, if the flexibility of their bodies, and faces that defy their age are anything to go by, the answer would be yes. Try starting your spring mornings with one of these rejuvenating exercises.
Walking with nature
Foot reflexology and acupressure are a great way to stimulate energy and increase qi flow throughout the body. There are many tools on the market today that can be used to massage the feet. The best massage however, is to walk with nature. Forget the shoes and get in touch with the earth again by walking on a sandy beach, a grassy lawn, or – as is now popular in China – on cobblestone paths. The uneven stones will press into the soles of the feet similar to an acupuncture treatment. For best results wear socks or thin soled shoes and walk slowly. Avoid the stones, however, if you have bone spurs or similar foot problems.
It is said that tai chi is one of the best exercises for improving balance, in particular because some of its movements involve stepping backwards, a motion not usually done in every day life. This helps physically strengthen the posterior muscles of the back and legs, and ligaments and joints of the knees, hips, ankles and feet. It also helps prevent a hunchback and lower back pain and increases overall flexibility, as well as promoting blood and qi circulation throughout the body. Walking backwards increases function of the cerebellum which coordinates and balances bodily movement. Before starting to walk backwards
– make sure the road you choose is fairly even
– warm up knees and ankle joints by shifting weight from side to side in a swaying motion
– step in one place with the body relaxed and arms gently swinging backwards and forwards. Raise heels from the ground to begin with and step in place for a minute. Then raise toes and heels as you step, bringing the leg higher, for a couple of minutes.
When it feels comfortable, begin walking slowly backwards with arms swaying to help with balance. If you suffer from arthritis, walk backwards two or three times a day, 100-400 steps each time. For weight loss, increase the distance and the speed at which you walk.
If you don’t want to walk, try stomping in place instead. Stomping, or stamping, your feet will increase blood and qi circulation and stimulate all the pressure points in the feet. Imagine you are crushing grapes to make wine!
Similar to stomping, clapping hands will increase blood and qi flow in the palms and stimulate acuppoints. Begin lightly, then slowly increase pressure. Finish by rubbing the hands together, as if washing them. Hand clapping can be done standing, sitting, or even lying down.
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