How we stand, sit or walk about in the world says a lot about our energy levels and our sense of personal power. Depending upon how you hold your body, you are either giving away or conserving your most vital life energy or Qi.
But there is more to it. You also have the ability to regulate your most powerful source of energy—your core—with your posture.
Poor posture not only causes your skeletal muscles to become misaligned. When you are slouched over, dropping your head and shoulders, you close down your diaphragm and restrict your breathing, impede circulation of oxygen, blood and lymph. Slumping posture can also cause the abdominal organs to sag, making the heart and lungs work harder.
Poor circulation also affects your joints, nerves and can cause sluggish digestion. Posture also sends signals to your brain that determine your emotions, heart rate and even your hormones.
While it's important always to get good sleep, proper nutrition and exercise to keep your body running smoothly, here are some secrets to your anatomy that you can use every moment of the day to keep yourself aligned, awake and powerfully alive!
Not only does toe tapping exercise feel extra wonderful, it's super easy. It can be done sitting at your desk or lying down on the floor, takes very little movement and no equipment.
- Lie down comfortably with your feet together or sit with your legs uncrossed with your feet lightly touching the ground. Close your eyes and take a few breaths. Make sure your back is straight and your shoulders are relaxed.
- Keeping your heels together, swing your feet outwards and inwards so that you are repeatedly tapping the sides of your big toes together and then let the outer edges of your feet drop to the floor.
- Move your feet as rapidly as you can without straining yourself, and tap as hard as is comfortable. Soon you will feel energy start to circulate in your feet.
- Starting with at least 50 repetitions and gradually build the number of repetitions as you practice.
- Stop tapping and let your body rest. Feel the subtle vibrations and sensations of the energy you've accumulated in your core running throughout your entire body.
If you have poor circulation, injuries or other blockages in your lower extremities or feet, this exercise may be more difficult at first. You may not have full range of motion in your ankles and the outer edges of your feet may not reach the floor at first. Don't worry. Just keep flexing back and forth. Eventually you will increase your range as your leg muscles relax.
Burning sensations are an indication of stuck energy. If you feel too much pain slow down or even revert to gently rubbing the sides of your feet together instead of tapping until you feel the energy moving freely.
Toe tapping can relieve headaches, insomnia, tension, fatigue and poor circulation. Also, try toe tapping for just a few minutes every night to promote deeper sleep.
Align the Spine in Line
Whenever you find yourself waiting in line—at the grocery store, at the bank, at the airport—make use of your energy with this simple trick to align your musculoskeletal system and send a pleasant buzz through your feet, legs and to your brain.
- Curl tail bone inward.
- Place your feet parallel to each other with your big toes turned slightly inward.
- Tuck your chin in slightly.
- Focus on the acupressure points on the soles of your feet.
- Let your breath come naturally and let your jaw and eyelids hang loosely.
- Imagine the energy in your tailbone slowly rising, from the tip of your coccyx, up the entire back of your body and culminating at the crown of your head.
- Take another breath and send the crown energy down the front of your body, pausing at your core or Dahn-jon to gather more power.
- Continue to circulate the energy from tailbone to crown in a continuous loop.
- Stop when your name is called or when you're next in line!
This exercise is so subtle no one will notice you doing it. It's a great way to pass the time and, instead of stressing over long lines and delays, you have a chance to take an energy break instead of breaking down in frustration!
You can change your (body) talk by changing your walk. Although our gait is mostly dictated by our genes, our age and the way our anatomy is put together, putting more energy into your step can make a big difference in how you perceive the world, and how the world perceives you.
Vitality or 'Jangsaeng' Walking is a deliberate way of walking that encourages physical and mental habits that help people look and feel younger, healthier, and happier.
A form of Qi energy walking, it follows the principle of “Water up, Fire down” by creating the conditions for ideal energy circulation in your body.
While any form of walking can keep you fit and feeling energized, Vitality Walking especially helps to reduce stress, improve digestion, and promote clearer thinking and emotional balance.
Vitality Walking involves walking with your body in a certain alignment while maintaining focus on the soles of your feet and strengthening your core vitality which is especially affected by posture. It corrects your posture so that our bones and muscles are optimally aligned and balanced.
- Begin by wearing well-fitting, comfortable shoes or walk barefoot.
- Set out on your path, whether you live in a quiet setting or a busy city, tune in to your own energy.
- Walk with your spine as straight as possible. You might even try using the postures in the Align the Spine In Line exercise.
- Bring your awareness to the soles of your feet; the "yongchun" acupressure point, which is located just below the balls of your feet. This point marks one end of the kidney meridian, which is important for vitality and courage, or according to the translation for jangsaeng, “youthful longevity.”
- Increase the distance you walk every day. The more mindful walking you do the more time you give your body to adjust to its proper alignment and experience the Qi force walking accumulates in your core.
A key element in Vitality Walking is mindfulness. Walking is something we do all the time, but how our brain perceives its importance can make all the difference in the world. Keep at it for a long and healthy life!
This pose is called "One" or Ilchi Pose
not only because it's as simple as holding up one single digit, your index finger, it's also one of the simplest ways to unblock and circulate your energy.
This pose is extremely effective at circulating energy and aligning your physical body.
- Lying on the floor, raise your arms straight above your head, with your index fingers pointing straight out while your other fingers are gently curled toward your palms. Your outstretched fingers act as a sort of antenna to gather energy from the environment.
- It's important in this pose to not force anything or hold your breath. Just lie quietly with your finger pointing out for as long as it takes to let your breath come and go effortlessly, your muscles to unwind and your mind to relax.
- At first, try to hold this pose for at least five minutes. Soon you might work up to 15 or 30 minutes.
- Finish with several long, deep breaths, closing your eyes and bringing your arms down to rest at your sides.
You can do One Pose anytime you need to stretch and catch your breath. Even a few seconds a day can make all the difference to your energy level.
These exercises are meant to correct bad posture and open and strengthen your core at the same time. All of them involve subtle movements that are designed for you to conserve, accumulate or energize your core. And the best part is, the only equipment you need is your own anatomy.
As with any physical exercise regimen, seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner before
trying these postures.