“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
Each body responds best to a different kind of workout.
What kind of exercise will work best for you depends on many different factors, which include:
Whether or not you have burned out adrenal glands and/or a damaged metabolism.
How much sleep you got the night before.
Your current stress level.
Whether or not you need to heal from any injuries.
Your current fitness level.
Your level of mind-body integration and coordination.
Your personality and personal drives – do you have a mental, emotional or spiritual outlook on life?
Personally, I prefer a tremendous amount of variety in my workouts.
By getting a tremendous amount of variation, I am always challenging myself mentally, physically and spiritually.
How you move affects the way you think.
If you repeat the same movement patterns day in and day out, you will keep thinking the same way.
It goes like this: Move the same way, think the same way.
Sit at your desk 8 hours, slump over your steering wheel in your car, slump in front of the TV, get trapped in your life.
Move your body in new and different ways using muscles you may not have realized were even there, make yourself conscious about how your spirit is actually currently inhabiting your body in any given moment, become a totally different human being.
Moshe Feldenkrais, founder of Feldenkrais, and Emily Conrad, founder of Continuum, were two pioneers in the field of healing movement who recognized the value of changing the way their clients thought and felt by breaking up habitual movement patterns.
In order to BE different, you have to MOVE in a different way.
In order to feel better permanently, you have to become conscious and wake up to what is actually happening inside yourself.
I am all about personal development, personal evolution and penultimate self realization.
As a very enthusiastic healer, kinesiologist and medical intuitive, I have often wrestled with myself about whether or not to continue offering private lessons in fitness. But I came to reaffirm my personal belief that it is not possible to be a healthy person unless you DO exercise.
Plus, exercise, intelligently administered, can be one of the most powerful healing tools of all – and I am not just talking about fixing your knees, unlocking your shoulders, strengthening your back, mobilizing your hips, uplifting your mood, normalizing your weight, improving your body’s ability to handle insulin, giving you a great self image, boosting your energy level, lowering your stress level, or aging gracefully..
Every muscle in your body is also related to a specific acupuncture meridian and specific emotions. If you learn to integrate all your muscles, you can be more integrated, strong and flexible – not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually.
That’s why I like to challenge myself by moving in all different ways.
Here’s my personal workout schedule:
DAILY: Walk my dog Belle, an 18-pound cocker spaniel mix from the Atlanta Pet Rescue, www.atlantapetrescue.org. For many people, their dog is their personal fitness trainer. For me, it’s the opposite. Belle probably wishes her mother was not such a health nut. She suffers from CPDS, couch potato dog syndrome, a close variant of HCPS, human couch potato syndrome. She does not really like to walk, but we do it anyway, because in my view, all animals, human and canine, benefit from daily walking. Some days we may walk for 1 hour, other days we may take two or three short walks while trying to avoid the tendency to bark at small girls on pink bicycles, baby carriages and other assorted neighbors.
Walking my dog is my most favourite form of exercise. I adore Belle, and I love spending time with her in nature. I would refer to this as shamanic exercise because each little walk we take is a precious journey unto itself. I never know who or what I may encounter. Over the past two years, we have surprised a fox, had a long stare at a great horned owl, looked up into the sky at countless hawks and admired hummingbirds and other forms of nature, all within a block or two of my home.
MONDAYS AND FRIDAYS: Lift weights. These are my hardest workouts. If there was one thing I wish I could get through to women, it’s that you have got to lift weights, especially as you get older. Weight lifting is at the top of the food chain in terms of exercise, in my opinion. Would we rather look the way we look with no actual effort? Yes, but that’s called magical thinking. I lift free weights and weighted bars, use bands, Swiss balls, medicine balls, power balls, various balance apparatus, a cable crossover, and practice body weight exercises. Some people I know are also under the impression that somehow weight lifting is a lesser activity on the enlightenment scale, intellectually or spiritually speaking. Many people’s views about weight lifting are the same as their views about eating. That means they think they know what a good workout is, just like they think they are eating healthy, and they don’t even really know what that means. A great weight workout is not a bicep curl, and it’s not sitting on a bunch of machines in a gym, it’s fully integrated functional movement. The best trainers in the world do not use machines. Call me if you want to experience that. I write my own programs and change them up every week or so.
TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS: Yoga. I especially love Thursdays because I get to teach yoga twice that day, which means I get to breathe really deeply for several hours. I don’t know how people age without yoga. As women, when our estrogen levels drop, our muscles and joints tighten up. Like my overall workout plan, I intend for huge variety in my yoga classes. We may stand on our head, we may do yin yoga, we may practice vinyasa, we may stretch with straps, we may focus on the core, we may practice quick stress management techniques. But we are always having fun.
Over the past 12 years, whenever I go on vacation, I always search out the local yoga classes to learn various styles and discover some of the best teachers. Some of my favorite vacations have been to park myself in a friend’s back garden, read books all afternoon and take two or three yoga classes morning, noon and evening. As a result, I have studied yoga in London, New York, Los Angeles, and in yoga retreats at Yogaville, Omega Institute and Kripalu. I teach private yoga lessons throughout the week, but you can find out about my yoga classes at http://www.totalfitness.net/classes.htm.
WEDNESDAYS: Qi gong. Wednesday being smack in the middle of the week, I always plan activities that day that rejuvenate my energy. Qi gong is gentle and powerful and a surprisingly great workout from a conventional exercise point of view as we may do hundreds of body weight squats in any given class. Everything I do for a living – training fitness, coaching nutrition and giving medical intuitive readings and healing – requires a tremendous amount of qi. There’s an unlimited amount of energy in the universe, but most people don’t know how to tap into it. Since pretty much 100 percent of my new clients complain of fatigue at least at some point throughout the day, I always recommend qi gong. A lot of people don’t get it, unfortunately for them. Qi is like air – you can’t see it, but the absence of energy is extremely uncomfortable. Qi gong will heal your adrenal glands and thereby heal your metabolism if you stick to it regularly. I used qi gong to heal my adrenals, and I know other people who have completely healed their metabolism by making qi gong a regular part of their program. It will heal pretty much anything else since it balances your acupuncture system. I started practicing qi gong many years ago when my adrenal glands were totally burned out. Qi gong provided such a boost of energy that I vowed to teach a weekly class. Bonus: We practice outside in my garden by the fountain unless it’s raining, too hot or too cold. Find the directions at http://www.totalfitness.net/classes.htm. All the five elements of Chinese medicine are present and flowing – the sun, the earth, the fresh air, the water in my fountain
SATURDAYS: Hike or walk. More fresh air, more sunshine, more trying to keep Belle from barking. One of my favorite places to hike in Atlanta is Kennesaw Mountain, which has an endless variety of trails deep in the woods, on the flat, or steeply up to marvellous scenic views. Find your way by visiting http://georgiatrails.com/features/kennesawtrails.html.
SUNDAYS: Tai chi class. I LOVE my tai chi teacher, Jeff Cook. Please visit his website, www.dragoncloudtaichi.com. Jeff has practiced tai chi for 25 years. He is very very intelligent and insightful, which a new student might miss because he is also so humble. I give all the credit for my attendance to Rick Barrett of www.taichialchemy.com. Rick had been a guest on my radio show so I attended two of his seminars in Atlanta. I protested stubbornly when he kindly suggested that I study tai chi, “I already do yoga and qi gong. All my chakras are already open and balanced. What could tai chi possibly do for me?”
Tai chi is like magic. It will teach you how to embody your own power in a graceful, understated way.
I remember recently meeting a woman at a tai chi workshop who had taught yoga for 12 years and was a professional Reiki master, like me. Unlike me, however, she had also been practicing tai chi for 10 years. Even though she was 3 inches shorter, she was about twice as strong as me.
Jeff’s class includes qi gong as well as tai chi and tai chi with swords.
As a personal bonus, I will add that tai chi has done more to help me recover from physical abuse than any other therapy. About 20 years ago, I spent two years in a YWCA support group for battered women. Although those lessons were powerful and meaningful, the stress of long-time physical abuse was still deeply hardwired into my nervous system. I was still on guard in defensive mode. Yoga and qi gong had relaxed me and healed my adrenal glands, kinesiology and healing work had released the pattern of depression, but it took practicing tai chi with Jeff to overcome the deepest vestiges of abuse.
Scientific research shows that trauma and long-term stress can rewire a person’s nervous system, making them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Initially, many people in our society turn to antidepressants and/or talk therapy, but to fully release these patterns, we must release the memories at the cellular level.
I could tell my tai chi practice had helped me make a huge leap forward when a large dog suddenly attacked Belle and bit her three times during one of our regular walks just this past month. I stayed completely relaxed and fully present while doing all I could to rescue Belle. Because I was calm, my dog recovered quickly and we were able to walk the rest of the way home with no trauma.
Tai chi does take tremendous discipline and patience to learn, but Jeff’s classes are so deep I often wish I would be taking notes. I am smart enough to realize that when he talks about winning through gentleness, he is not just talking about tai chi, he is talking about life.
AND SOMETIMES: I like to ride my bicycle at the Silver Comet Trail, http://silvercometmap.com. I grew up riding bicycles on the streets of my home town of Savannah, Georgia, but with the traffic in Atlanta, I prefer riding here on designated bike trails.
Whether you are married or single, a great Friday date night activity is contra dancing, www.contradance.org, at the Clarkston Community Center. Be sure to show up for the beginner lesson at 7:15 taught with great enthusiasm by my old friend from high school, Janet Shepherd. Contra dancing is the apotheosis of variety in movement patterns. Each new dance has a different configuration, so you are working your brain as well as having fun exercising with a different partner each new song.
What if I miss a day? Big deal. Tomorrow’s another day, another exploration.
Book Review: Orchid Essence Healing
by Catherine Carrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
As a long-term kinesiologist, medical intuitive and energy healer, I have used flower essences from all over the world. Simply put, Don Dennis’s orchid essences (www.healingorchids.com) from the Isle of Gigha in Scotland are the most powerful and rapidly effective I have ever used. They are now one of the most commonly used tools in my healing practice.
I came upon the Living Tree Orchid Essences on a whim. My studio is filled with orchids. The room is so suffused with light that if an orchid enters my space, it tends to bloom for six months at a time, if not continuously for years. I was well aware of the uplifting effects of these delicate creatures, so one day when reading a catalogue of healing remedies, I decided to order the full set of Don’s essences.
Orchids are the most evolved flowers on the face of the earth. Although many healers use vibrational remedies, few consider the importance of using current vibration. Most of Don’s orchid essences have all been made in the past 10 years. In particular, they open not just the well-known seven chakras, but also chakras way above the head, making them ideal essences for balancing our spiritual energies.
This year, Don published Orchid Essence Healing: A Guide to the Living Tree Orchid Essences.
Like many books on flower remedies, Don’s manual includes basic descriptions of each remedy. But this book takes the reader many steps further. The book also includes two incredibly useful charts. One describes how each remedy affects each acupunture meridian. Another chart details specific energy centers in the body and the orchid essences that will balance them. For example, two points that I have used for many years include the Gate of Life, or Ming Men. If this point is off in kinesiological testing, a person’s will to live is diminished. Another important point is the Shadow Point. If that point is low gear, a person will be constantly struggling with their lower self.
The orchid essences I use most often in my practice include:
Soul Shield – For psychic protection
Internal Cleansing – For the emotional effects of physical detoxification
Being in Grace – For releasing old emotions from the kidney meridian
Positive Outcome – For a more optimistic outlook
Angelic Canopy – For enveloping the aura in peace and calm
Even those who know nothing about healing would be encouraged to purchase Don’s lovely book for his 200 color photographs. Don spends 1 ½ to 2 hours every day tending the orchids in his greenhouse. His deep reverence for each flower becomes most obvious in his careful photography.