Many health benefits are possible from mind/body practices such as Yoga, T’ai Chi and Qigong. These benefits are the result of alignment, relaxation, flexibility, balance, breath, mindful movement and increased energy flow. These Eastern practices promote a healthy balance between stimulus and stillness, both physically and mentally. In the West, lifestyle choices often challenge this state of balance. We go from place to place and task to task continuously; often overextended and disconnected between our body and mind.
What if it is possible to practice eastern principles in balance within our western world of (over) stimulation; and at the same time create a safe and effective fitness program? One approach is one you might not expect – and that is to focus on technique, perhaps walking or running technique.
At first, you may think ‘technique? C’mon, I know how to walk.’ Or ‘I know how to run.’ But improving technique can enhance every other sport or fitness activity; why would walking or running be any different? Plus, walking and running are repetitive motions where technique can make a significant difference. Much of the discomfort, aches, pains and injury that occur in walking or running are due to subtle repetitive strain or impact that builds over time. Walking and running are also two of only a few fitness activities that involve terrain changes. Technique adjustments on hills can dramatically reduce both effort uphill and impact downhill.
When you focus mentally on technique:
– You can improve postural alignment, relaxation and balance to increase efficiency, and reduce fatigue, discomfort, aches/pains and injury on any terrain.
– You focus on one thing, which settles and clears the mind.
– You develop the skill of body sensing. Body sensing is the ability to sense position, effort, tension, impact or any other aspect of your movement. With body sensing, you form a strong mind/body connection.
Two specific examples of ‘mind/body fitness in motion’ are called ChiWalking® and ChiRunning®. These programs combine the principles and inner focus of T’ai Chi with walking and running. The result is motion consistent with the body’s design, simple principles of nature and basic laws of physics. The ChiWalking and ChiRunning approaches to fitness have been published in best selling books, and also featured in numerous news, fitness and health periodicals.
We are designed for motion, and our mobility directly affects our longevity. Whether you are beginning a walking program or running a marathon, or somewhere in between; a mindful approach to your fitness program can add life to your days and days to your life.
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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About Me, Contact page or his website at http://www.eChiFitness.com.
ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.