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T’ai Chi in a Chair: Easy 15-Minute Routines for Beginners is now available at Barnes and Noble.
Stress can have a positive effect on our lives or a negative one. In moderate doses, stress may motivate us to do our best work, stimulate our creativity or push us to complete a task in the most efficient manner possible. On the negative side, stress may lead to psychological and/or physical ailments. Repeated stress over an extended period of time creates a vicious cycle of anxiety leading to tension-building thoughts that bring on the symptoms of stress-induced disease. In a worst case scenario, the result may be the onset of a serious and prolonged illness. Dr. Hans Selye, founder of the International Institute of Stress in Montreal, Canada states, ”If only stress could be seen, isolated and measured, I am sure we could enormously lengthen the human life span.”
It may not be possible yet to isolate or precisely measure our individual levels of stress but we can take steps to reduce our daily anxieties by using exercises designed for just that purpose. At the end of a hard, stressful day at work, we want nothing more than to go home, sit in our favorite chair and relax. Yet we all know we should find time to exercise, too. What better way to accomplish both what we want to do and what we know we should do than to make this stress-reducing, seated exercise program a part of our daily activities?
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.”
Tao Te Ching, #27
Breath is essential for life, yet we breathe without conscious thought. Unless we make an effort to practice deep breathing we don’t benefit as much as we should from our respirations. Deep, conscious breathing cleanses the body and boosts the immune system while calming the emotions, reducing stress and heightening our spiritual and intuitive state.
Exercise #1 – Balloon Breathing
Posture: Begin by sitting with your back against the back of the chair, allowing for the natural curve of your spine. Legs should be shoulder-width apart, feet flat on the floor. Hold your head lightly on your neck as though it was suspended by a string from the ceiling.
Benefits: You will be cleansing your lungs and strengthening the muscles of your diaphragm.
Close your eyes. Hold both hands over your diaphragm so that you can feel the muscles expanding and contracting as your breathe in and out.
Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your diaphragm. Your physical energy (ch’i) is located in the lower abdomen about 3 finger widths below your navel. It is your mind that determines where the energy will be sent so imagine the energy sparks traveling upward through your abdomen and into your chest where the energy or ch’i will circle in and out and around your lungs.
Exhale through your mouth and as you do so, envision the toxins that have collected in your lungs exiting through your mouth and out of your system.
Repetitions: Three sets of nine breaths each.
Warning – Always breathe only as deeply as is comfortable for you. The depth of your breaths will increase as you practice the exercise.
Make fists with both hands, placing them on either side of your breastbone.
Using your thumbs, press firmly on the two indentations below your collarbone.
Take six deep, cleansing breaths.
Repeat as often as you wish.
This pressure point is helpful in relieving chest congestion, asthma, coughing, anxiety, and stress.
—The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a physician or medical practitioner. Please see your health care provider before beginning any new health program.—