We’re going to start the Fitness & Wellness section by posting a nice visual for you to meditate on. The quote is from one of my ‘gurus’, K’ung Fu, or Confucius as he was called by the Romans, once they had discovered his teachings. My friends in the Northern U. S. near the Canadian border will especially appreciate this image and may want to take a little virtual canoe-trip right now.
Think of a river you’ve visited or would like to. Picture yourself in the canoe, working your upper body muscles as you dip your paddle to give movement to your craft.
This is the flow of movement; the movement of your arms, guiding the paddle to move the canoe with the flow of the river. If the body does not move, energy does not flow. And neither does your canoe. However, the river never stops–it continues to flow endlessly on to the lake or sea.
Are you the river or are you the stagnated body, the beached canoe?
The Chinese were very, very well versed in anatomy and physiology. They knew how the heart worked, how blood circulated and the importance of the lungs and liver in keeping the system cleansed and balanced. They were the inventors of the motion exercises known as Tai Chi (tie-chee) and Qi Gong (chee-kung), and from these arose the many styles of martial arts such as karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, and tai kwon do, just to name a few.
Now, don’t laugh, but my life-long interest in the study of Asian philosophical and medical traditions began when I discovered the Kung Fu TV series starring the late David Carradine. I was in my teens and beginning to get interested in world cultures and traditions. They just don’t make shows like this anymore, which is sad when you think of how positively they can work to teach kids about different cultures. But that’s a topic for another post.
So–our studies of Fitness & Wellness will include ventures into not only Asian but the traditions of many world cultures, covering physical fitness, body care, and natural health remedies and treatments.
Popular trends in Fitness over the past few years also include dance forms from around the world–salsa, belly-dancing, ballet, country line dancing, swing dancing, ballroom dancing, flash dancing, hip-hop, sweatin’ to the oldies–there’s a style out there for pretty much everyone.
Dancing is one of my personal favorite forms of exercise and one thing I would like to do more of is check out the many different ‘dancercise’ programs available.
My personal program consists of just putting on my favorite oldies and cleaning the house. Pick up the rag, step, step, reach-up-and-wipe, boogie down to the dryer, put the laundry in the basket and step, step, turn-and-bend-and-lift-and-carry. Place the basket on the floor in the bedroom and bend-and-lift-the shirt-turn-and-step-step-and-hang then turn-and-bend-and-lift-again. Keep a steady rhythm with your chosen music. You get the picture. But when you go to do the floors, its best to dance with the broom and not the mop–mops drip on your toes. Why not start your own ‘housekeeping aerobics’ program this weekend?
The second part of our topic–Wellness–covers some of the things that come after the Fitness regimen, like massage, water therapies, herbalism and aromatherapy. There are also earth- and plant-based therapies like mud packs or leaf wraps, which are treatments used in many parts of the world. I have soaked in mud pits dug near lakes and rivers in my hometown area and I have to say it is very relaxing and therapeutic. You would not believe how soft and refreshed your skin feels after a soak in the mud and a splash in slightly cool, clear water. I really recommend trying this. Maybe when you take that canoe trip we talked about earlier, you could pull up on a nice sandy shoreline and make yourself a soaking pit.
Water Therapy or Hydrotherapy (hi-dro-THAIR-a-pee) plays a big part in the DIY Healthy Lifestyles Wellness Plan. This includes things like hot tub soaking, saunas, heat/ice packs, mud packs, and another big word, thalassotherapy (thaw-LASSO-thair-a-pee) or bath soaks using therapeutic salts. I like to use essential oils with the salts also, which does amazing things for sore muscles, stiff joints, and general body achiness. It can also clear up stuffy sinuses and help fight colds.
Herbalism and aromatherapy are two other therapies that we’ll be exploring. Aromatherapy is the study of how scent affects physical and mental wellbeing. Aromatherapy has become big business for the makers of home cleaning products, most of which use synthesized, chemical-based scents that can irritate the respiratory system.
The aromatherapy we’ll be studying is based on naturally growing herbs, florals, spices, and other sources. Essential oils come from the extraction of saps, resins, or ‘juices’ from the stems, petals, flowers, or roots of plants. Inhaling the scent is the best known way of using aromatherapy. Essential oils can also be applied topically (on the skin) by themselves or in a lotion and can be absorbed through the skin in bath oils or salts. Some can be used in food and drinks, like spices, flavoring oils, or teas. You really would be amazed at the many ways you can use essentials oils and aromatherapy to support your health and wellness.
So, this has been an overview of some of things we’ll be doing in the Fitness & Wellness centers and I hope you have found something of interest. Post your comment below to let me know what it was, or if there are other topics in Fitness & Wellness you’d like to learn more about.
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