08 Oct My Great Love Affair With Yoga, Qigong, And Tai Qi
Qigong, Tai Qi, Yoga and martial arts are not merely systems of exercise; they’re friends that help you through life.
Qigong, yoga, and Tai Qi aren’t scientific in the sense that theories change as quickly as some new data comes in. Tai Qi, yoga, and Qigong have developed over many centuries; they’ve been empirically studied for hundreds, if not thousands of years. They evolve, but the core wisdom doesn’t change. They have a proven record of success. On the other hand, Qigong, Tai Qi, and yoga are scientific in that they’re designed to develop, clean, and open the energetic body, thus making them absolutely invaluable in any health or rejuvenation program. They are more than exercise; they are tools that aid in the mind-body-spirit balance.
Can’t Be Perfected
A lifetime isn’t long enough to perfect these arts, but that’s the fun of it. All we can do is move on the road towards perfection. Every day is a new day. You practice when sick, healthy, and in any weather. You may not see tremendous progress measured in weeks or months, but over years you’ll see tremendous benefits of poise, strength, balance, and joy. You’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process.
Tai QI, yoga, martial arts, and Qigong are like guardian angels in your life. At times, they almost act as living entities, taking you under their wings and protecting you. I used to run in the forest at night in the winter. I’d slip and fall on the ice and slide for yards down the hills. The ability to fall safely saved me from injury. Yoga is still saving my hide everyday in Jiu Jitsu, and all three of these internal exercises protect my biological youth and energy daily. Beyond any other benefits they provide, there is the ecstasy factor.
Joy And Ecstasy Within Exercise: An Unstudied Phenomena
I’ve yet to see the ecstasy factor researched in relation to the effectiveness of any particular exercise. Modern therapy is paying attention to the measurable results in hormone, cardio, or muscle change. The ecstasy factor is, as far as I know, an untapped area to explore. Look at people in the gym lifting weights, performing rowing, running on a treadmill, or doing most any exercise. Invariably they look like they’re doing work; they don’t look all that happy. You can see the strain, boredom, and apathy on their faces. Watch people doing Tai Qi, or Qigong. Sometimes their faces are in such bliss they look almost like they’re having sex.
To get the most from exercise…it should be this fun.
Research or not, the best exercise is what you enjoy doing. In the West, we believe vigorous cardiovascular exercise and diet will keep our heart healthy. No one disputes that diet and exercise are vitally important for the heart, but Eastern cultures know that a peaceful, merry heart is more important.
So why waste precious time on something you dislike? It just creates inner conflict. So many of my patients describe their exercise as a duty to get through. They know it’s good for them, and that they will feel better afterwards, but I can see by their faces that they’re dreading it. If anything is work, an obligation, just something to get through, it will be a burden to the nervous system.
Make exercise a celebration of being alive, something you look forward to. If you enjoy it, you’ll set yourself up for doing it throughout your life. If exercise is a chore, sooner or later it will be dropped. Step out of the mold of status quo and find something you really enjoy. It’s perfectly fine to use dance as an exercise, and often more fun. Learning Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, Jiu Jitsu, or doing a regular walk outside may be more enjoyable than straining and grunting in the gym, unless that’s what you truly love.
Why I Started Jiu-Jitsu At 53
My friends and family believed I was having a middle age crisis, like buying a sports car, dying my hair, and trying to date young girls. They told me that I’m just not willing to admit that I’m getting old, and desperately trying to prove I’ve still got it. They point to the natural cycles of life and that a healthy person accepts their age with grace. All of these could be true, but they’re not. I practice Jiu Jitsu only because I love it.