Movement is essential to all life as we know it. The sunrises and sets, wind blows, rain falls, plants sprout, grow, yield their unique bounty, whither and decompose. Seasons are an essential part of life, wet & dry, light & dark, hot & cold, gestation-birth-life-death, and spring-summer-late summer-fall-winter and then spring again.
Our body is designed for movement, as we ingest nature’s bounty, digest, assimilate, process, utilize, and eliminate. Circulation of blood and fluids in the womb, growth & development of all tissues, organs, systems & everything in motion. From our birthing experience, breath of life, we change from the umbilicus for the pulsing source of our nourishment & detoxification, to our own breathing, heart beating, nervous system regulation of digestion, assimilation, utilization and then excretion. It’s a 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year ongoing job. Sounds, touch, tastes, movement, sight, feelings, and bonding with our caretaker and then individuation.
The BodyMind requires a flow of CHI, Prana, and Life Force through breath; circulation of blood & lymph, nervous system, the orchestration of organ and systems functions all involve a continuous breakdown, remodeling & repair of all the cells in our body. We require daily movement to function at the most advantageous ideal, this creates the strong foundation of BodyMind. Time tested and truly sustainable body centered movement that calms the mind, centers the heart, relaxes and challenges the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and creates improvement of the circulation of body fluids, massaging the organs and glands, and relieves stress (Latin for “drawn tight and bind up”). This improves our metabolic function of absorption, utilization, detoxification and elimination of the body.
Vanda Scaravelli (1908-1999)
Vanda wrote a book Awakening the Spine, later in life she took up yoga, undergoing a metamorphosis. Showing how aging can be grand. The pictures of her postures are self-evident and how there are different models of ideal aging in our culture. This experience led her to create & teach her own practice of yoga, living into her 80’s and the photo’s demonstrate what daily practice offer all of us, a rearranging, realignment, and revamping of who and what we are. All of this is accomplished with increasing muscle mass & density, strength, flexibility, joint mobility, balance, improved posture, mental functioning, emotional stability, and all the great benefits of a healthy BodyMind. Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Ujayii Breathing, Pulsed Interval Training (optimal fast & slow intervals), Somatics, Pilates, Gyrotonics, chop wood/carry water, gardening (daily activities), walking, hiking, slow resistance movement, postural awareness and enhancement, improve the quality and quantity of our body form & function. There are many other valuable forms of movement that we can incorporate into a healthy lifestyle, just look around and see what is the function, flexibility, and health of individuals who practice various movements for 10, 20, 50, 70+ years.
Jack Lalane (1914-2011)
Jack was one of the first fitness gurus that I can remember in America and came to believe that the country’s overall health depended on the strength, vigor, and wellness of every individual in our country. His bright blue then black jumpsuit on the Jack Lalanne Show, lifestyle modification tools, diet, nutrition, supplementation, exercise, and his positive attitude were at the center of a wellness program for 34 years on TV (Guinness World Record!). His TV shows are on YouTube, & his DVD’s are available on his website. He is very enthusiastic, informative, fun, laugh, try and try harder, he makes us want to move. He would do something special on every birthday, once towing his family on a boat across San Francisco Bay, in his 70’s! There is a story that on his birthday he was offered birthday cake and refused, his wife said “no one will know” his response was “I will”. Tried, tested, and true we see the fruits of our movement choices, manifested in the physiology, psychology of each individual. Our posture is influenced by joint wellness, strength, flexibility, endurance, stability, cognitive functioning, and are mirroring the decades of repetitive movement, trauma, stress and our adaptability. We must come back to our “center”, in a more balanced approach to life, stronger reserves, increased metabolism, optimal body chemistry and functioning on all levels.
Cheng Man Ching (1902-1975)
Cheng, the Tai Chi Master, was born in China and emigrated from China to Taiwan, then to New York City, where he instructed our Tai Chi teachers, Bataan & Jane Fiago (www.rockymountaintaichi.com). You can watch the Cheng Man Ching Tai Chi Short Form on YouTube, his flow and artistry are amazing. Notice the difference in his form from his youth to his later years is quite different. We have studied Tai Chi, Tai Chi Sword and Push Hands, it is a wonderful movement to optimize the QI throughout the body and you can do it anywhere without props. Utilizing the Heart Rate Variability Monitor, we are able to see changes in decreased stress and improving physiologic functioning of the BodyMind. We tested our teacher before and after the Tai Chi form, it reproduced the same results that we experienced. Decreasing stress in our over stimulated world and improving physiologic functioning; this is the goal, a truly sustainable lifestyle, which is unique for everyone.
Cheng Man Ching wrote several books including Master of the 5 Excellences, a truly Renaissance man and believed that we must cultivate and master several different facets of who we are providing an opportunity to live and cultivate a well-balanced and rich life. His 5 were calligraphy, painting, poetry, Tai Chi, acupuncture and herbal medicine. He practiced acupuncture and Chinese Medicine and once shared with our teachers that daily Tai Chi practice was his most powerful medicine. I have observed this in my own personal practice and my patients have confirmed that a daily practice which cultivates Chi, moving Chi and blood through the meridians, organs, muscles, tendons, joints, & all of the body systems, promotes a healthy lifestyle. His books & DVD’s on Tai Chi are readily available, for reference, I recommend personal study to perfect the form and then the resources for fine tuning are at your fingertips, while continuing corrective class. He also felt that if someone was sick and depleted just observing the form and being in presence of the group doing the form was healing. In 1994 we had the privilege to visit Taipei, Taiwan to study and visit many acupuncture and Chinese herbal clinics, hospitals and the governmental regulator of Chinese Herbal Medicines (their FDA). Samuel Chang was our guide & we immersed ourselves in a culture rich in history, biodiversity of foods, flavors and textures. Once lost in translation we were having “snakes” which were tasty little fishes with big eyes, but turned out to be “snacks”. We ate a wide variety of animal & vegetables. Other cultures have had mono-crop micro-vision only to be wiped out with blight, or pestilence. Biodiversity is a treasured gift for both the consumer and the world that we share. We visited many Buddhist temples and the National Palace Museum. When we approached the museum it looked like a historic Chinese palace in ancient times built into the mountain with an amazing teahouse on the top floor. It was a Herculean effort to attempt to take in all the displays in one visit. If we visited the museum every 3 months it would take 12 years to see almost everything they have in their vaults. Walking through the vast store of treasures in the museum, we saw Cheng Man Ching’s artwork on display, along with other amazing statures, ivory carvings, bronze sculptures, artwork and calligraphy. I would highly recommend a visit to this museum.