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People tend to sit a lot these days. In the car, on the sofa, at a table. Whilst watching TV. When eating. Sitting for short periods of time is fine but lengthy sitting has an adverse effect on circulation.
If you have to sit as part of your job, find creative ways to avoid sitting for too long. Discover opportunities to get up from your desk frequently.
Sitting is more dangerous than
smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than
parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. The chair is out to kill us.
(Professor James Levine, The Mayo Clinic)
Excessive standing is the same as too much sitting. Try to vary what you do and avoid being static.
Travelling a long way by train, aeroplane or car can be problematic when it comes to circulation. It is essential not to get comfortable just sitting.
Make a point of getting up at regular intervals if on a train or aeroplane. Walk around, flex the feet. With a long car journey it is quite easy to stop and get out frequently.
Walk around for several minutes before resuming the drive.
A lot of technology has been designed specifically to facilitate even more sitting. This is not good news.
Try to make walking part of your every day routine; especially if you sit a lot. Walking is inexpensive and virtually anyone can do it. Just make sure that you dress appropriately for the weather.
Addressing your clothing and living environment can significantly improve circulation. It is important to put fitness before vanity and wear clothing that fits the season.
In the North East of England the temperatures can easily get well below zero. Even if you drive a car frequently, it is prudent to wear seasonally appropriate clothing.
What if your car breaks down?
People often turn up the central heating in Winter time and close the windows. They wear Summer clothes indoors and in the car. This is not healthy.
The central heating dries the air and closing the windows means that the air quality is poor.
We weren't designed to sit. The
body is a perpetual motion machine.
(Dr. Joan Vernikos)
Washing the dishes, ironing, cleaning, vacuuming, cooking and gardening all require movement and are cost effective everyday methods to improve circulation.
Avoid muscle tension
One of the most common problems when it comes to circulation is muscle tension. This can be caused by any number of things but the worst part is that people usually don't realise that they are tense.
Muscle tension is over-contracting/holding/bracing the muscle. It inhibits circulation and prevents the joints from moving naturally.
Muscles work better when they aren't tense. Humans become tense because they sit too much, exercise badly and exert unnecessarily.
Many modern approaches to exercise do not cultivate healthy, youthful movement. In fact, they do not encourage movement at all.
Harsh training methods promote an immense amount of muscular tension which prevents the joints from moving properly.
Hitting the gym or buying an expensive drop handle bicycle will not get rid of stiffness. You need to do something else.
Rather that force and hammer your muscles, they need to be softened and lengthened. Patience is needed.
Inflexibility and stiffness restricts circulation so it is important to increase flexibility as a priority.
Exercises such as yoga and core strength will notably improve flexibility but are often too demanding for people who lack flexibility.
The aim is to open and lengthen rather than stretch and force. Something less strenuous is advisable to start with...
Soft qigong methods are ideal for improving circulation. Much milder than conventional exercise, they focus upon slow, controlled, natural movement and breathing.
Many medical trials have proven that tai chi improves circulation. One obvious advantage of tai chi is the fact that you can practice it between lessons.
Rather than doing a lengthy workout, small sessions spaced throughout the day help to move the body without exertion or the risk of muscle tension.
A comprehensive tai chi syllabus offers a wide variety of training methods in order to challenge people of different ability levels and stimulate interest.
Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. The muscles in your lower body are turned off. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent. Just getting up for five minutes is going to get things going again. These things are so simple they’re almost stupid.
Most of the movements in taijiquan require the body to be open, lengthened and expansive. This reduces the risk of compression and enhances circulation.
Free, mobile and comfortable, the body moves spontaneously and without impediment.
Closed joints and tense muscles inhibit circulation by trapping fluids; so this is assiduously avoided in taijiquan practice.
As with taijiquan, meditation affects circulation. It is easy to incorporate into everyday life.
Massaging the body can really help to release stored tension and improve circulation.
Our routine starts with the head and works down throughout the entire body, paying special attention to problem areas such as the spine.
In time, the massages will feel easy and natural - it is not about remembering a routine - it is about moving down the body looking for tension.
Many of the exercises are passive - the area being worked does not perform the work itself. By manually-releasing the tension you avoid adding extra stiffness.
We teach two sets of leg stretches that are great for releasing tension. The second set contains several exercises that are great for long journeys.
They are similar to the circulation exercises recommended when flying.
Oxygenate your blood
Breathing adds oxygen to your blood stream and this helps to keep you alive and healthy. Pay attention to the act of breathing and the quality of the air.
Rather than force the breath, feel it instead. Once you can feel the air going into your body, leave the muscles alone and let your body breathe by itself.
The less you tamper with the breath, the better.
If you are tired and out of breath after a few minutes of exercise, then you are simply not fit enough. You must improve your fitness considerably if you want good circulation.
This means training qigong and form regularly.
Mild cardio work
Our syllabus contains mild cardio work. Nothing strenuous but just enough to get the heart beating faster.
How often do you truly rest? Do you consciously, deliberately let go of held tension in the muscles and joints, in the spine?
Shoulders, hips, elbows and knees are normally very tense in most people. The habit of tension is so ingrained that you are completely unaware of it; believing yourself relaxed despite being far from it.
Constructive rest enables the body to relax completely and comfortably, and this improves circulation.
Legs up the wall
There is a good yoga posture which involves resting the legs vertically up the wall whilst lying on your back. This is great for helping leg circulation. Just avoid lying for too long.
A body brush is believed to be good for aiding circulation. Do some research on-line?
Heavy, large baoding balls are best for improving hand movement and increasing circulation. These are not usually found in the shops.
Most shops stock cheap, gaudy imitation baoding balls that look nice but do not adequately exercise the hands. Look on-line. Read the description. Large. Heavy.
Within reason you want the largest balls that you can fit into the palm of your hand.
Drink more water
If you want your bodily fluids to circulate then you need to hydrate your body.
Cigarettes & alcohol
Cigarettes and alcohol are both very bad for circulation. Aim to cut them out. Alcohol dehydrates the body and ages it.
Cut out salt
It can be very useful to research diet and how it affects circulation. There is a lot of free information published on-line.
e.g. changing your diet so that you eat plenty of greens and cutting out salt is a good starting place.
Being overweight adversely affects circulation. If you're fat, don't try and run it off. Lose the fat first or risk hurting your knees and back.
See a dietician and/or follow a measured, gradual diet carefully and consistently.
People read about the antioxidant benefits of green tea and go to their local supermarket, purchase a box and expect results. This is not likely to occur.
When books such as Green Tea Living make reference to green tea, they are talking about premium grade matcha tea powder or loose leaf green tea.
Products like these need to be bought from a tea specialist (usually on-line).
21 May 2000
Last updated 02 September 2021