Well being

How can Tai Chi help my daily life? Flow more, Force less

I’ve always wanted to learn about Tai Chi but never found the time. I saw a great deal from TennisOne for a course teaching Tai Chi in relation to tennis. So I thought I would take this as an opportunity to learn Tai Chi while also improving my tennis game.

Continually moving towards your goals is a principle of Cell Your Sole. To do this without overloading myself I like to combine activities and achieve more things with one period of effort. Developing my tennis game through learning Tai Chi makes Tai Chi practical right away.

Tai Chi = Unforced Balance

I’ve heard that Tai Chi is about understanding your body more so you can achieve more physically yet it’s a very relaxed approach using gentle flowing movements. This is the kind of methodology I’m looking for. I need something that:

  • fits into my daily life
  • requires minimal effort: improves me yet doesn’t demand too much.
  • prevents injury
  • improves my day to day activities: Something that is useful every day.

The course is Flow more, force less: Tai Chi Movement and Principles and is provided by Tennis One.

I like Tennis One because it takes me back in time. They aren’t up with current technology but their lessons are timeless. Tai Chi is centuries old and, I hope, as relevant today and tomorrow as yesterday.

The course is a series of lessons available through private youtube videos with downloadable versions you can keep for life if you want.

Finding Neutral

First impressions are really good. Each lesson is exactly what I want. I’ve noticed how most if not all my injuries come from me trying too hard. I push my body beyond what it is comfortable with, often for too long either in matches or practise and generally over days or weeks.
So I’m increasingly interested in the value of small purposeful movements to achieve an end instead of big powerful ones. 

Instead of training just for tennis my philosophy is to use my life to prepare me for tennis and vice versa. So I prefer to use daily tasks like walking my dog, DIY and playing with my son as opportunities to strengthen and train my body so that it is strong enough for tennis.

An easier life

Very much like in Karate Kid when painting a fence laid the foundation for the boys body to understand karate. My life is getting easier and easier as I apply this concept more. I already find that walking my dog is excellent recovery from my intense Tennis matches and sessions. At the same time the walk challenges my body and encourages strong bones, proper use of energy like fats, carbs and protein and other elements like salt a walk also encourages recovery.

Muscles around your body move rhythmically massaging blood and other items to where they need to go. Synovial fluid starts bathing your joints, nourishing them so they can heal and strengthen. The gentle pressure of the walk encourages healing in the correct direction that nature requires.

it seems fantastical to describe healing in this way but it’s how we have evolved. Gentle activity is the most natural state. Being sedentary isn’t so natural. So our bodies have evolved uses for this activity like using the contraction of the lower leg muscles to push blood back up the body into normal circulation. The motion of walking is important in moving food through the digestive system, helping the process along. As an equal and opposite reaction you find that without activity problems develop because the body is no longer getting the support it requires. Bowel problems can start because food isn’t being moved around the body. Blood may also pool in the legs because it isn’t being returned by the leg muscles through movement. This can obviously cause problems in the legs.

I’ve started the course and already I’ve found it’s just what I wanted. At first glance it’s very simple but just like in Karate Kid the more you apply and learn, the more complex you realise these basic principles are. My initial thoughts are that I have found a beautiful art I can practise every day. I’m already doing similar activities and now I have direction.

Quality over quantity

I like the delivery of Gene Burnett the instructor because it is very level and calming. He doesn’t shout or rush, everything is gentle, well explained and also made relevant to real life first. Basics like how you stand, move to look at things and how to just be. It may sound a bit fanciful but having taught in gyms and had many injuries from bad posture and technique I quickly realise how everything here is about doing a lot with a little effort. Quality over quantity.

So far I’m enjoying the course so much it feels worth writing a post for each lesson sharing what I learn.

Course details

  • Overview of Course – Read this First!
  • Introduction
  • Finding Neutral
  • Springy Power
  • Turning:Bringing Your Whole Self
  • Ripple of Power: Expressed by the Hands
  • Opening and Closing
  • Grounding Opposing Force
  • Warding Off
  • Yielding
  • Rolling Back
  • Improvised Flow
  • Concluding Remarks

Exercise may slow progression of retinal degeneration

That is the finding of a study in the Journal of Neuroscience. Exercise appears to preserve the structure and function of nerve cells in the retina after damage. 

Moderate aerobic exercise helps to preserve the structure and function of nerve cells in the retina after damage, according to an animal study appearing February 12 in TheJournal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest exercise may be able to slow the progression of retinal degenerative diseases.

To find out more check out  Exercise may slow progression of retinal degeneration

Functional medicine: an alternative treatment for cancer: Fitter Food Radio episode 11

I’m listening to  Fitter Food Radio episode 11 with Jo Gamble on Embracing Nutrition.

It is quite fascinating. Focusing on Jo Gamble explaining the value of functional medicine for health.

Jo is a nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner who specialises in alternative treatment for cancer.

I’m getting to know the show so I can only comment on this episode. I’m always interested in different approaches to help and I like the way Jo tells her story. So I share for reference.

Functional medicine certainly sounds interesting but so do most approaches in the hands of a good promoter. The problems cited with the existing health system we’ve all heard before. I like the holistic approach we hear from Jo.

Though I’m still curious how much we really know and how much relies on the ability of the practitioner. The same can be said for the existing system as much for alternatives.

Jo makes the point that

doctors knowledge of nutrition is often not as good as our own

Given how much Doctors are required to know along with the lack of support to help them gain this knowledge and keep it up to date. I feel it is important to keep considering other ways of achieving the same result. Helping people gain health.

What are the things Jo says are critical to preventing cancer through lifestyle

  • enough sleep: atleast 8 hours
  • stress: too much leads to problems.

These are the things I see across all diseases. The same lifestyle factors leading to disease. Lack of sleep prevents your body fixing itself and dealing with problems. Of course this leads to disease, why would it not.

To much stress overworks you creating too much damage. It also prevents sleep and thus stops any repair.

Thanks to Matt Whitmore and Keris Marsden for an excellent show.

What is Functional Medicine?

Wikipedias introduction is:

Functional medicine reflects a systems biology approach which involves an analysis of how all components of the human biological systeminteract functionally with the environment over time. The Institute for Functional Medicine contrasts this approach with an organ system biology broken down into modern medical specialties.

Functional medicine, in agreement with modern medicine, holds that the entire “patient story” needs to be heard and understood in context in order to truly help the patient.[6] Where functional medicine differs from mainstream medicine is its willingness to employ treatments and drugs which may not be well evidenced by clinical research, including orthomolecular medicine and detoxification of unevidenced toxins.

Related links

Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You?

I just came across Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You? from the excellent Marks Daily Apple. Something I’ve wondered for a long time. Given the chance I prefer gentle cooking. I feel flavours and textures are best with this approach. My wife is the opposite. She prefers quicker cooking and loves well done steak.

The article reminded me of Advanced Glycation Endproducts produced through certain types of cooking that can cause damage. Wikipedia starts by saying:

In human nutrition and biology, advanced glycation end products, known as AGEs, are substances that can be a factor in the development or worsening of many degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis and chronic renal failure.

Mark has created a lengthy article covering all sorts of angles.  Some key topics covered are

  • Heterocyclic Amines
  • Advanced Glycation Endproducts
  • Oxidized Lipids

I never see these types of articles as a list of stuff you shouldn’t or should do and basically something to reduce fun. I use it to guide my fun. Reminding me to learn more about marinades and other ways to make cooking easier and the results more exciting.

Take Care of Yourself Before You Take Care of Business

This is the point that I start talking about the Sell Your Soul aspect that Cell Your Sole is also about. Yes the pun really is intended. The point here is that you must always understand who you are and what makes you and your life work. This site is all about learning, particularly about yourself.

Taking time for yourself and the time to learn about what you want and what makes you happy is important. The pressures of life distract us all the time but personal well being comes from knowing your own needs and feeding them. Which means not selling your soul. Not selling your opportunity for fun and happiness.

It’s much better to learn how to meet your needs without giving the chance for fun. Even better to learn how to make fun achieve your goals as well. That’s the point of food and exercise. Not as chores but as opportunities to play.

The same goes for me time. It’s not selfish. Think about it. The better you take care of yourself the better you can take care of others.

Check out Take Care of Yourself Before You Take Care of Business and let me know what you think. This applies to all of us whether we’re high flying CEOs or parents or whatever. You’ll do a better job if you take better care of yourself.