Simple yet effective ways to keep your energy flowing.
The ping of knee pain, the stress of work, and the responsibility of caring for a loved one who is ill can all change the course of your day. When the course of your day changes for too long, you might develop habits that accelerate aging.
When we are living optimally, we feel alive and awake, we move about our day with lightness and ease, and fill ourselves with the vital nutrient of oxygen. The reality of life, however, is that there are always things that get in the way. It might be physical limitations, it might be mental constructs, or it may just be that we’ve fallen out of the habit of taking care of ourselves.
As our bodies deteriorate, there is a tendency to look to medication to solve any issues that come up. According to Ilchi Lee, creator of Body & Brain Yoga, all disease comes from a blockage in the flow of energy in the body. When energy moves freely through the body, it is able to access its own healing potential. In his book I’ve Decided to Live to 120 Years, Lee offers 3 simple yet effective ways to keep your energy flowing:
- One-minute exercise. As a way to break up the monotony of the hours of sitting that most people do, Lee suggests setting an alarm and taking one minute breaks every hour to do “moderate to vigorous exercise that effectively works your muscles and raises your heart rate in a short period of time, such as push-ups, squats, sit-ups, jumping jacks, jumping in place, and bear walking.” He suggests starting with push-ups on the wall if doing them on the floor feels too hard. The important thing is that you really push yourself and get your heart beating for the full minute. You will flush out toxins, get more oxygen into your cells, and effectively be able to use your body-and your brain- at a higher level.
- Longevity walking. If you watch an older person walk and compare it to the way a young person walks, you’ll notice some very distinct differences. As we age, we tend to shift our weight back into our heels, to shorten our stride, and not to lengthen through our legs or hips as we walk. Lee developed Longevity Walking as a way to counterbalance this tendency. The basic idea is that you align your feet so they are parallel when you are walking and to focus your step on the area just below the ball of your foot, an acupressure point know as yongchun. By actively pressing into the yongchun and connecting that energy up through your legs and hips, into your core and chest, and then rising up into the crown of your head, you will stimulate your life force energy. In addition, “you activate your brain by tensing the soles of your feet. The toes are where nerves connecting to the brain are most concentrated.” Lee has seen people who start walking this way feel lighter and more vibrant.
- Belly button healing. Begin by lying on your back or sitting in a relaxed position. Notice how your body and your mind feel. Feel your belly expand as you inhale, and imagine life energy being drawn in through your belly button. As you exhale, pull your navel back towards you. After a minute or so, put the tips of your index, middle and ring fingers from both hands together and press them into your navel, “mindfully and rhythmically” for 100 to 300 repetitions. The benefits described by Lee, are improved digestion, increased flow of the lymph fluid through stimulating the abdominal lymph nodes, and activation of the vagus nerve, which has a calming effect on the nervous system.
These three simple exercises can unlock the power of healing in the body. When our energy is flowing, we are capable of expanding into our experience in whatever way that we choose. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or require any experience to get started. As Lee reminds us, “you can master your mind once you have mastered your body.”