7 Great Reasons to Add Tai Chi To Your Life

Tai Chi Image

THE POWERFUL ENERGY AND BENEFITS OF TAI CHI

Welcome everyone to another Health and #WELLNESS WEDNESDAY! And, of course, we’re going to continue today with another discussion on Complementary and Alternative Medicine — or CAM.

Now, we all understand the importance of physical exercise in our overall program of staying fit and healthy. But, I always remind people that in order for exercise to be effective, it doesn’t have to be strenuous. After all, not everyone is capable of running five miles a day or spending several hours each week in the gym. Indeed, some of us have physical limitations that prevent us from moving freely or, in some cases, from standing or walking.

So, today we’re going to talk about Tai Chi — another ancient Chinese discipline that proves the adage, “doing less can accomplish more.” Or as the Chinese say, “four ounces can deflect a thousand pounds.”

To begin, Tai Chi is a centuries-old Chinese martial art. It originated from a discipline called “qigong” — which has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. And, while the practice has been used for self defense throughout the centuries, today it is associated with the promotion of inner peace and calm. It uses internal energy and very subtle physical movements to create “natural balance” between the mind and body.

Now, if you remember from our discussion on acupuncture, Chinese philosophy believes that our intrinsic energy travels along pathways in the body known as meridians. Indeed, traditional Chinese medicine considers human beings to be miniature versions of the universe — composed of the five elements of metal, fire, wood, water and earth. And, a state of good health is achieved when the meridians are flowing freely and the five elements are in balance.

Of course, there are many different types of Tai Chi. In fact, there are approximately 3,000 varieties! Yet, three of the most popular styles are Yang, Tai Chi Chih and Wu. The first, Yang, is perhaps the most advanced style that involves 24 basic movements. The second, Tai Chi Chih, involves 24 to 36 movements, but is a bit more gentle and easier to perform than Yang. And the third, Wu, involves 20 movements all of which help improve balance — are perhaps the easiest to perform — and, therefore, probably perfect for beginners.

No matter which style or type of Tai Chi you choose to try, however, there is something they all have in common. And, that is the beautiful, slow, rhythmic, meditative movements that define the practice. The people you see in the parks moving so gracefully with gentle, flowing body movements? They’re practicing Tai Chi!

And, the really wonderful thing about this practice is that just about anyone can do it. The movements are low-impact putting minimal stress on the joints and muscles. It requires very little space. It can be performed at your own pace in a non-competitive environment. The risk of injury is very low. And, you have the choice of either practicing it in a group setting — or privately by yourself. Furthermore, even if you are wheelchair bound, there are Tai Chi movements that can still help bring comfort and physical flexibility into your life.

So, let’s look at SEVEN GREAT REASONS to add Tai Chi to your life:

1) Improved muscular strength and endurance;

2) Improved flexibility;

3) Decreased discomfort from musculoskeletal disorders such as fibromyalgia and arthritis;

4) Improved sense of peace and calm;

5) Decreased mental and physical stress;

6) Improved aerobic capacity, and;

7) Improved balance.

Now, as far as getting started with Tai Chi — it’s always a good idea to first consult with your personal physician. Make sure she or he is onboard with your decision — especially if you have any chronic medical conditions or injuries that affect your mobility and everyday life.

After that, it’s easy! Because Tai Chi has become so popular in the Western world, including the United States, classes are almost always available. Now when you start, taking a class with a certified instructor is probably the best way to learn. This is because the movements of Tai Chi are very subtle and gentle. And, having an instructor close by will insure that every move you make will be correct. Then once you have it down, if you choose, you can enjoy the practice completely on your own!

So, why not check at your local community center or medical facility to see if classes are offered? Or, if you do happen to live in an area in which no classes are available, learn from an instructional video tape — it’s the next best thing.

Tai Chi is easy. It’s gentle. It’s enjoyable. And, it’s powerful! So, no matter what style you choose to practice — or how you learn — you too will benefit from its traditional flowing movements and its meditative wisdom. Good for the mind, body and soul!

Thanks for joining me everyone! Stay in good health and until next time,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

Image courtesy of arztsamui at Freedigitalphotos.net

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The Art and Benefits of Creative Visualization

Woman Thinking FDP Welcome back to Health and #WELLNESS WEDNESDAY everyone! It’s a new week and another opportunity to continue our discussion on Complementary and Alternative Medicine – otherwise known as CAM. And today, we’re going to talk about a mental technique that has been around for literally thousands of years.

Now, throughout these many years, this particular mental methodology has been called many different things. In the Mahabharata, the Sanskrit epic of ancient India, the Pundits referred to it as Ritam. Religious teachings over the centuries have used the phrases “keeping in faith” and “as you sow, so shall you reap.” At the turn of the last century William Walker Atkinson authored what he called “Thought Vibration.” In the 1940s Claude M. Bristol wrote about it in “The Magic of Believing” and in the 1960s Norman Vincent Peale coined the phrase in his book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

Psychologists know it as self-proclamation, affirmation and self-fulfilling prophesy. Physics established it as the Laws of Attraction and Reciprocity. And physicians, athletic directors, business professionals and people from all walks of life use guided imagery and mental rehearsal to further the dreams and desires of not only their patients and clients – but of themselves as well.

So, what’s behind this? What are we really talking about? What’s the 411?

Well, to begin, let’s review just a bit of High School science. Physics, actually. You see, we live in a physical reality. A physical world in which we interact through our five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. It is a relative world which means everything is always changing. AND, it is a world in which everything is composed of energy — molecules and atoms that vibrate at different frequencies.

Now, stay with me. Let’s use an example. Color, for instance. The seven different colors of the visible light spectrum are composed of the same energy — molecules and atoms – but they vibrate at different levels to create different colors.

Similarly, thought is energy. And, different thoughts are energy that vibrate at different frequencies. And, because “form follows idea” thought is the foundation of every emotion, action and reaction.

For example, when we think about everything that’s wrong with our life, when we’re in a “bad mood,” when we obsess with disappointment or loss or illness or pain of some kind – we feel lousy! And when we feel lousy, we can’t do our best work. And when we can’t do our best work, we can’t be as efficient or productive in our actions. And, when we can’t be efficient or productive in our actions, we can’t really be happy or enjoy the success in life that we would all love to have.

So you see, the quality or vibration of our thoughts determines the quality of our emotional state and our action. Negative vibrations in thought create negative action. And, they can create negative reaction in the world around us.

Yet, the opposite is also true. Positive thoughts create positive emotions and actions. In its simplest form, try thinking of something you love – something that makes you feel good. When you have this thought, your physical body reacts. Do you find yourself feeling better? Or, perhaps smiling? Or, laughing? You see, you have just set up a mental vibration – or thought – that began a chain reaction and set up a positive vibration or reaction in your physical body. AND, in this state of now feeling good, don’t you feel more energy? AND, mental clarity? AND, a greater desire to share it and spread it around? AND, then don’t you notice how people of a similar nature just seem to be more attracted to you?

Now, guided imagery – or creative visualization – or whatever you choose to call it – is the tool that can help you create positive thoughts and effective action in virtually every area of your life.

In sports, athletes “see” themselves jumping higher or running faster. They send thoughts of success to every muscle and cell in their body. They create mental pictures of winning the competition and receiving the trophy. They call up these images over and over again – honing their physical skill through mental repetition.

On the stage, actors rehearse every word, every movement, every reaction involved in their storytelling. They go over every detail again and again. Nothing is left to chance. And, at the end of this lengthy mental rehearsal a finely tuned physical performance is delivered.

And, of course, in medical settings in which CAM techniques are used, visualization patients “see” their strong body fighting the illness or disease. They create images of “good” cells destroying “bad” cells. They visualize white light streaming into their bodies replacing all dark areas of pain and discomfort.

Accordingly, psychologists help patients overcome fear and anxiety with images of peaceful surroundings. Pediatric wards teach children to fight their illness with mental images of tiny soldiers working inside their bodies. And, VA facilities help veterans reduce Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by “seeing” themselves wrapped in a cocoon of warmth, safety and protection.

Similarly, we can use this technique in our everyday lives. Why not spend just a few minutes every morning thinking very clearly about the things you hope to accomplish that day. Paint pictures in your mind of those things. Visualize yourself being successful. Create positive mental images and situations for yourself. Speak your desires out loud. Then see how you feel. Take note of how your day unfolds.

And when the inevitable “bad day” comes along – don’t spend your time thinking about the problem. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Don’t focus on it. Instead, use your incredible “mind power” to visualize better days. See yourself solving the problem. Imagine yourself stepping over the problem. Picture the problem dissolving in your mind’s eye.

For you see, it’s not so much, “We are what we eat.” Rather, it’s more accurate to say,

We are what we think.”

So, whatever your circumstances might be — or wherever you might find yourself in life — here’s another time-tested technique that can only help you on your path. Give it a try. There are numerous books you can read on the subject. Or, check in your area to see if a nearby medical facility or the local community center offers classes. And always remember, small steps can lead to big changes!

Thanks for joining me everyone! Stay in good health and until next time,

                                     TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

Image courtesy of artemisphoto at Freedigitalphotos.net

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The Amazing Acuity of Acupuncture + 10 Common Conditions it Can Help

Acupuncture FDPHi everyone! It’s time for another Health and #WELLNESS WEDNESDAY! And, today we’re going to continue our discussion of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Otherwise known as CAM, this approach to treating illness is based primarily upon knowledge that stems from “eastern” traditions and philosophies. In this way, it is distinguished from “western” or “traditional” medicine — and from the treatments with which most of us are familiar. Yet, the exciting news is that more and more hospitals and medical facilities in many countries are beginning to incorporate CAM programs into their health care initiatives.

For the past few weeks we’ve been discussing different types of meditation — and the health benefits they can bring to our overall well being. So, this week we’re going to focus on the increasingly popular practice of acupuncture.

To begin, acupuncture is a technique of traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for centuries in the Far East. It’s based upon the theory that the body’s energy — also called chi or qi — flows along pathways in the body known as meridians. Practitioners believe that when the energy along these pathways is blocked or unbalanced, illness or pain will result. To relieve a blockage or restore balance, thin or hollow needles are inserted into the skin at specific points along these meridians.

Acupuncture, for example, is often used by cancer patients to relieve any pain or discomfort that might be caused by the standard treatments of chemotherapy and radiation. Researchers believe that the pain reduction attributed to acupuncture may result from biological mechanisms. In other words, the treatment may stimulate the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland. Or it may trigger changes in the body’s neurotransmitters, hormones or immune system.

Now, acupuncture is a slightly invasive procedure. But, it’s virtually painless and requires no anesthesia or sedative. I know. I’ve undergone many acupuncture sessions myself! And, quite honestly, I have never felt any discomfort whatsoever. The needles are so fine that at the very most — you might feel as if a tiny fly has gently landed on your skin. That’s all!

The technique, however, does require a certified acupuncturist who is licensed by the proper regulatory boards in the state or country in which the treatment is conducted. And, of course, in order to prevent the unintentional spread of illness or disease through cross contamination, the acupuncturist always uses sterilized or disposable needles throughout the procedure.

So, that’s the what of acupuncture — now let’s discuss the why.

And here are ten common conditions acupuncture can improve, decrease or reduce:

1) Nausea and vomiting resulting from medical treatments like chemotherapy;

2) Dental pain;

3) Stroke rehabilitation;

4) Menstrual cramps;

5) Low back pain;

6) Tennis elbow;

7) Headaches and migraines;

8) Osteoarthritis;

9) Carpal tunnel syndrome, and;

10) Asthma.

Not bad at all! Now, Chinese medical traditions such as acupuncture always incorporate a holistic approach to treatment. This means that on your initial visit your practitioner will ask many questions about your entire overall health and well being. As a result, your first session may last about an hour and a half. After that, each session typically will last 30-40 minutes. Additionally, more and more insurance companies are including CAM procedures in their medical coverage.

AND, the results begin immediately — although, depending on the condition being treated, it might take a few sessions for you to really feel a lasting difference.

That’s it! Acupuncture 101 in a nutshell! Next week we’ll continue with a discussion on yet another interesting CAM procedure that might be just right for you!

So, thanks for joining me everyone. Until then,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

Image courtesy of phaendin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Transcendental Meditation

Welcome back to Health and #WELLNESS WEDNESDAY everyone!

MeditationGosh, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing many important issues regarding the upkeep of our overall health. And, by now, it’s apparent that when I speak of “health” I’m referring to many aspects of our lives including our physical bodies, our mental outlook, our emotional state and our philosophical or spiritual well-being.

Now, most of us are familiar with what we commonly refer to as “traditional” medicine. This includes the type of treatments we have come to expect from our doctors and hospitals — such as surgeries, drugs, nutrition and psychological support — also referred to as “western” medicine.

Yet, there is another side to this coin. We also have “non-traditional” medicine, which often includes acupuncture, acupressure, craniosacral therapy, moxibustion, reiki and meditation — these often referred to as “eastern” medicine.

And the really good news here is that the two disciplines are coming together in a complementary fashion that is yielding nothing short of stunning results!

Known as CAMcomplementary and alternative medicine — many elite hospitals in the United States, including Duke University Medical Center, Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago, the University of California San Francisco and the Mayo Clinic are now offering this “integrative” medical approach to their patients. And with substantial private donations, and federal and foundation research funds from organizations like the National Cancer Institute — these programs are becoming stronger and more accessible every year.

In light of this, over the next several weeks we’re going to spend some time discussing some of these CAM techniques and therapies. And, today we’re going to kick this series off with an article I wrote on my personal experience with Transcendental Meditation, which was recently published by the David Lynch Foundation based in New York City.

See it here

So, please read it in good health — and enjoy!

Until next time,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Do This to Your Food Before Grilling to Reduce Cancer Risk

FDP Barbecue Welcome to #FACTUAL FRIDAY everyone! Today, I’ve got a tip to make your BBQ not only tasty, but a bit healthier as well!

Remember our earlier discussions about the problems of cooking meats at high temperatures? Grilling, broiling and frying are all methods we use commonly to cook our dinners. But, all require high temperatures. And, when meat is cooked at these high temperatures — above 375 degrees — a chemical reaction takes place.

You see, meats contain an amino acid known as creatinine. Now, when we place a burger or a steak on a very hot grill, for example, this creatinine breaks down — and forms chemicals called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs. While the impact of HCAs on human health has been studied for years, researchers now believe there is a definite link between these toxins and colon, stomach, lung, pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers.

BUT — remember we also said that when these meats are marinated before cooking, the formation of HCAs can drop dramatically. And now, thanks to researchers at Kansas State University we may have an easy recipe for such a marinade!

It appears that certain spices are the key!  And, in this case, we’re talking about rosemary and a combination of turmeric, finger root and galangal, otherwise known as Thai Spice. All of these spices contain powerful antioxidants that block the formation of HCAs.

So, when we use a dry rub of rosemary on our beef before grilling it, we will cut the HCAs by 61 to 70 percent! And, when we use a Thai Spice combo as a dry rub, we’ll be cutting the HCAs by 40 to 42 percent! This is really great news — for not only are we protecting our health — but, we’re adding a lot of flavor to boot!

According to our friends at KSU it is important, however, to avoid using overly sweet marinades with high amounts of sugar. These, while being very tasty, can actually double or triple the HCA levels in our burger or steak.

So, this summer why not try dry-rubbing your BBQ before cooking it? It’s a method that works for fish and poultry as well. And, if you lower the heat just a bit and avoid eating the crunchy black parts of your dinner, you’ll go a long way in protecting your health while enjoying time with friends and family around the summer BBQ!

Thanks for joining me everyone! And, until next time,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

Image courtesy of zole4 at Freedigitalphotos.net

 

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