World Tai Chi & Qigong day

Saturday, April 29th is World Tai Chi and Qigong day.

These are gentle martial arts designed to get the energy in your body flowing properly. And whether you believe in “chi” or not, mindfully doing these light stretches and exercises produces and undeniable feeling of well being. The daily workout I do is part Qigong.

I’ll share with you one of the most centering Qigong exercises that I’ve encountered. I learned it as “Standing like a mountain.”

  • Stand with your legs about shoulder width apart
  • Bend your knees slightly
  • Straighten your arms so that they are pointing at an angle into the ground
  • Be aware of your breath
  • Visualize yourself as the tip of a great mountain extending downward into the earth. Your head is the tip, and your arms are the sides of the mountain
  • Feel yourself as a part of the great earth. Realize that your body is a part of the whole of the earth. Everything that your body is made up of came from the earth and thus you are the earth.
  • Being the earth, you have a sense of calm solidity.

Check out Ken Cohen’s course on qigong for an introduction:


“The Essential Qigong Training Course: 100 Days to Increase Energy, Physical Health & Spiritual Well-Being” (Ken Cohen)

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Peaceful Warrior Workout

One of the things in my “Morning of Mindfulness” routine that I do every morning is the Peaceful Warrior Workout.

I learned this workout at a seminar I took with Dan Millman. It’s a series of exercises including stretching, qigong, and yoga moves that get me going in the morning. It’s not really possible for me teach you each step online, but here’s an overview.

The first half of the routine is done standing up. It stretches and exercises all parts of the body. The second half is done on the floor and I find does deeper stretches and exercises for the larger muscles.

Throughout the exercise routine, breath is important. Breathing should be conscious, and in through the nose. Breath work is an important aspect of the mind-body relationship that I’ll write about later.

To the Dan Millman routine, I’ve added some strength training exercises. I do push-ups and crunches on alternating days. In the beginning I tried to do both push-ups and crunches every day, but found that my muscles needed a day of rest in between. So now one day I’ll do crunches (currently I do 100 of them) and then the next day I’ll do pushups (30). If you do this every day like I have, you’ll be amazed at your progress. When I started, I could only do three pushups, now I can do more than thirty!

For crunches, I do 25 straight crunches, then 25 oblique crunches (lying on my back I put both my knees on the floor on one side) on each side, then 25 straight ones again. This works the whole abdominal area. Strengthening the trunk of your body is important for balance, your spine, and providing a strong core for the rest of your body to rely upon.

I also touch my toes in the beginning of the routine (partly to make sure I can still do it, but also to do some additional stretching.) And, in the middle of the routine, I add some leg extension semicircles that help a lot with balance.

The routine is designed to exercise your whole body so that if this is the only exercise you do, it’s enough. Dan says it can be done in under 4 minutes, and his original version can, if you hurry. But I don’t like to hurry, and I’ve set aside time to do this every day, so with my additions it takes me around 10 minutes. Can you spare 10 minutes a day to be physically fit? If not, drop the things I’ve added and do it in under 4 minutes. 4 minutes a day … you’ll feel better now, and your self in 10 or 20 or 30 years will thank you.

I also use the routine to get energy any time of day. If I hit an afternoon tired slump, I do the routine (not including the pushups or situps), and am energized! Much more healthful than a cup of coffee, for sure.

It used to be you had to take a seminar, or find a rare copy of a video tape that Dan created to see the workout in action, but I see that Dan has created a DVD with it. Samples are available on his web site. It’s also described in Dan’s book, Everyday Enlightenment.



The Peaceful Warrior Workout: A 45-Minute Instructional DVD

   

“Everyday Enlightenment : The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth”

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