This months blog is inspired by an article that came out from Harvard Health about Tai Chi, and the benefits to your health from working with your energy to prevent ill health.
I've noticed in recent months that they are writing more and more articles on the benefits of lifestyle changes as much as the medical stuff. This is great because they are now doing research into more of these areas and especially into Qi (also known as Chi, and in my discipline - Ki), and how this works to prevent ill health, here's a snippet of what Harvard has to say:
"The Secret to a Happier, Healthier, More Vital Life Is Now Yours!
With so many scientifically backed benefits, we just can’t keep it under wraps any longer. The ancient Chinese practice of tai chi has become widely recognized as one of the most powerful ways to improve both physical and mental health.
In an increasing number of recent studies, tai chi has been found to heal–almost everything, from lowering blood pressure … to managing stress … to building strength and balance.
And, better yet, everyone can benefit–no matter your age or fitness level. No wonder it’s the tried-and-true practice of top-tier professional athletes, weekend warriors, and the elderly!"
So they're testing Tai Chi, but the main point here is that they are looking at eastern ways of promoting good health and preventing ailments, and in my book this is Shiatsu too.
Here are the 5 benefits Harvard are stating:
No More Pain
A Sharper Mind
A Boost in Mood
Plus if you do practice Tai Chi or Qi Gong (my similar discipline) you'll be more confident in yourself and in physical balance - this can ward off a future of Osteoporosis, broken bones from awkward falls and calm anxiety/ reduce overwhelm, amongst so many other things.
They cite that a growing number of clinical trials are showing that practises like Tai Chi, Qi Gong and in association Shiatsu are offering significant relief from back, neck, arthritis, and fibromyalgia pain too.
WHAT IS QI AND HOW DO YOU USE IT?
Talked about in the west Qi is your energy, but it is so much more than that in the oriental concept. It is your lifeforce but it is also what it does, how it moves, and how it connects everything, and when strongand free flowing how it keeps you in good health.
I'm not one to write poetically about Qi, so many people do this better than me, but I am pretty good at translating it into western terms, the nuts and bolts that you will understand, so I've borrowed this quote, which simplifies the discipline to one handy sentence:
"Using traditional Chinese philosophy and medicine–mind and body. The two central concepts are yin and yang (opposing yet complementary forces) and qi (vital energy). When your qi freely flows, you are balanced and healthy. "
One of my favourite phrases that I learnt at college and have applied every day since is:
"Ki follows mind, blood follows Ki"
(Ki - Japanese Shiatsu spelling of chinese medicine Qi)
And this is what is pivotal to your health in my opinion as it means that your mind plays an important part in resolving your physical issues, and unfortunately plays a massive role in your ill health too.
You don't realise you're getting ill. Life plays out and emotions come out, but emotions also get stuck in your body, and believe it or not each emotion can affect a different body organ (this is the absolute basis of chinese medicine). This starts an energetic imbalance, think about how you can get worked up and then you get shoulder tension, this is where emotions have affected your muscles, and tense muscles contract and impede blood flow. It's a cause and effect, you had an emotional response, you most likely held onto it and now its trapped and has become a physical imbalance. Some people tend to trap these types of emotional responses into their muscles and joints, and for others it can penetrate further into the body. This is why it's pretty important to stay on top of your emotions, look for balance and calmness, rather than angst and irritability!
Irritability is a great one, this really is a sign that your emotions have caused blockages in your energetic system. We call it 'Liver Ki' and we call it 'stuttering' and shiatsu can unblock this quite easily (as can Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga) Irritability is a sign that things really aren't right, but it's also a great sign as it means things aren't too bad, but quick... get me sorted out before things get worse!
Notice that I suggested all physical types of exercise to release irritability, that's because the way to release it is movement. If you're feeling irritable and tetchy asking you to sit still and silent and meditate isn't going to work for you. Irritability (and frustration/resentment) all come from a group of emotions that need to be released by opening, unwinding and releasing.
If you don't release emotional tension then what's going to happen?
Issues are going to dam up, small blockages become bigger blockages, these can cause hot spots and cold patches, one becomes inflammation, the other can become chronic pain. This is being quite mechanical and western about it but it's happening on subtle levels throughout your body at all times, the balance of Yin and Yang is ever changing but if its blocked then the disparity between them becomes increasingly noticeable until you have a real pain point that sends you to the doctors for tests.
HOW TO SHAKE IT OFF
I once heard a quote 'shaking cures a thousand ills', and this is true, but you don't realise this as these ills can all be tiny little things that when left unresolved, some will grow and cause you pain. Shaking loosens the body and really can release emotions and toxins that get trapped in muscles and soft tissue - shaking is great - if you want to shake properly, as in the west we have lost the art of doing the simplest physical things, you can check out Qi Gong shaking here.
Have you ever wondered why your dog shakes after an interaction with another dog or after something has frightened it? Have you seen animals on nature programmes that 'shake it off' just after they've out run a wild cat?
They're shaking off the adrenalin response and the attached emotion to the situation. If you've had a run in with someone, say on the phone, and you get off the phone, do you physically shake it off? Or do you go talk to someone, sit down, make a cuppa and obsess about it for the rest of the day? If you say yes to the latter you haven't let go of the situation. Our civilised western brains have learnt that it needs to be talked over, analysed and picked apart; and then still probably not entirely dealt with. This becomes stuck Qi and is pushed into some place in your body to build up and be saved for a later ill.
Coming back to my quote of ' ki follows mind, and blood follows ki' this is how we undo all those little ills. You need to think about your health, or the area of concern, the tension you are feeling, but in a positive way. Worrying only embeds more issues, but to think 'I feel tense', so let's shake it off, or maybe something feels cold and fragile, massage with warmth and TLC. This is 'Ki follows mind'.
The second part is 'Blood follows ki', you've had the intention and you've instigated a physical solution, then if you're lucky you're feeling a buzz or some warmth, especially in your hands if you're using them to massage, this is your Qi flowing back to an area. You may have unblocked something or just drawn attention to an area that was depleted and needed help. It doesn't matter what it was you've made the change, and now blood and physical fluids are moving again!
We want movement in the body, this is what keeps you healthy, once blockages and stagnation occur, pains and problems arise. Keep you Qi flowing and you're preventing ill health.
THE KI TO YOUR HEALTH
Of course I'm going to recommend that you have a monthly shiatsu, I do and I wouldn't be without, and don't trust a shiatsu practitioner that doesn't have a regular session. We have to offload our emotional cr*p too!
A shiatsu is a fantastic preventative treatment once a month, its a fabulously relaxing hour, and the after effects will be felt for a week or two. However if you really want to stay on top of releasing all those little 'ills' then a regular practise , even if only 5 minutes every other day is invaluable to staying on top of your health.
Treat Shiatsu like a massage and attend reguarly,you'll leave feeling deeply relaxed, calm, clearer headed and with clarity. You'll also relieve aches and boost your immunity, putting you in better shape for being proactive in your health.
Don't think of Shiatsu as a treat, think of it as a part of your own health care, self care is incredibly important it moving forwards with great health in longevity. Supporting your health with Qi Gong/ Tai Chi / Yoga is also incredibly beneficial too; there is a place for both in your life!
Contact Andrea for a treatment or book in here . To support you in your regular health there are 2 membership options that save you over 10% a month - Monthly membership and Relaxed membership , both designed to help you in preventing ill health and gaining your optimal vitality in life!