Healing Exercise: David’s Tips

An Understanding of Breath Work, Soft Martial Arts and Its Place in the Chinese Healing Sciences (Part 1)

Word Definitions:

Calisthenics – gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement

Chinese medicine is a vast system that utilizes many methods of healing, acupuncture  being the most common and widely used. There are, however, different branches to the system of Chinese medicine. One of these branches is exercise.  There is a wide range of techniques that constitute exercise in the Chinese health sciences. Typically, it is not just any normal cardiovascular exercise or calisthenics (defined above) that you would find at your local gym (although these will undoubtedly be a part of the overall system).

You are probably familiar with martial arts and, more specifically, Chinese kung fu. For hundreds of years in Chinese culture, this system of movement has been used for both its martial application and for its healing potential . Kung Fu (pronounced ‘gong fu’) translated means ‘time and energy.’ This translation can cover a lot of ground!

Bruce Lee

There are many schools of kung fu throughout China. A large majority of these schools use hard, fast and lethal posturing and movements often times mimicking the natural world. For example: the infamous tiger claw technique or the graceful crane technique. They also incorporate different weaponry into their styles. These systems are considered external martial arts. This is the type of martial arts you will see Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan using in their films. However, there is always a yin side to the yang!

The ‘internal’ or ‘soft’ school of martial arts is equally as vast as the ‘hard’ ‘external’ styles, and draws upon the natural world just as much, but the difference lies in the intention behind them. The hard, external schools are almost completely martial in their application where as the internal styles are more for the benefit of ones circulatory health. That doesn’t mean the soft, internal styles can’t be applied in a combat situation. On the contrary, most times far more effectively and powerfully than the external styles.

To learn about these styles, stay tuned. We will dive into these topics next week.

Food as Medicine: The Winter Months

Utilizing food as medicine is a powerful tool that anyone can use to not only feel their best, but to avoid ailments that correspond to their life or environmental stresses that may be present. The concept of using food as medicine is a long held tradition of civilizations throughout human history, yet sometimes can be forgotten in our fast paced and often stressful world. The following is meant to give you an idea of what type of conditions affect your body and its ability to function based on environmental factors, and how you can balance these factors by choosing the appropriate foods.

12641392491982759135Inhalation_diagram.svg.hiWe will begin with the present winter months, and how choosing the right foods (as well as avoiding some others) can help to balance your body’s function as old man winter blasts us with factors such as cold and dryness. The lung’s function is very important to staying healthy during the winter months. It acts as the “front line” of your immune system, and is also very susceptible to external conditions. This is due to the proximity of the lung to the outside world. When you step out on a sub-zero morning and take that first icy breath, your lung is literally taking in the external environment with very little to filter out conditions that are hard on it. This, coupled with our tendency to stay indoors with little outside ventilation like open windows, is why it’s not a coincidence that winter is the most prevalent season for colds and flu.

Based on the two main factors present during the winter season, cold and dryness, we can choose foods that both warm and moisturize our bodies. We can also focus a bit more on boosting lung function so that our immune systems remain strong during the cold and flu season.

cinnamongingerhoneyonionSome foods to include for winter are ginger, green onion, cinnamon, and honey (not necessarily all together!) Ginger and green onion warms the body, ginger especially for the lung. When used together they also have a powerful immune boosting effect that can ward off early stages of colds such as that tickle in your throat or a mild body ache. Cinnamon also warms the body and gently increases circulatory function, which is lessened by the colds constricting effects. Honey is warming as well but is also moisturizing, helping to keep tissues from becoming affected by the dryness factors present during winter.

There are also foods that can directly boost lung function to keep the immune system strong. Both pears and broccoli help the lung, and can utilize the above listed ingredients perfectly. Pears gently cooked with honey and cinnamon make a great winter snack or dessert to come home to after a long winter day. And broccoli lightly stir-fried with ginger and green onions is a delicious side dish for any meal.

Both of these dishes can help boost your body’s function to remain strong during this very taxing season, but some foods should be avoided during the winter months. Raw foods have a cold factor to them, as the body needs to spend resources to warm them up for digestion. We should therefore lightly cook any vegetables during the winter. This also means that cold beverages are especially taxing on the digestive function and should also be avoided.

By adding these easy to find ingredients and avoiding the cold and raw ones, we can all bear the long winter with better health and vitality.