Most of us secretly wish we could just sleep in and move like molasses during cold and gloomy winter days. But our need for exercise and healthy circulation doesn’t stop just because our body clocks are set to “energy savings time” in winter. If your exercise routine takes a snooze in the colder, darker months, try out Dahn Mu Do.
Dahn Mu Do, an energy based martial art, actually works with your body’s energy centers to redirect and distribute Qi to regain an optimal state of balance. Whether your body clock is set on overdrive or slug-time, Dahn Mu Do offers some easy training exercises that pay out big energy dividends for just a small physical investment.
Although martial arts are best known for its vigorous physical movements, Dahn Mu Do also integrates the slower movement and breathing exercises of dance, tai chi and Qigong.
What makes Dahn Mu Do different from most other martial art forms is its focus on the body's natural rhythm. This includes not only our circadian rhythms, but also our energy flow and the state of ourenergy centers or Dahn-jons
The key to this practice, says Dahn Mu Do instructor Soo Ahm Lee, is that you are not exerting energy that you have to create from outside yourself. You are using your mind to access energy that has already accumulated in your body. Dahn Mu Do shows you how to access it— express it—especially when your mind is telling your body a story of fatigue.
Here are some energy saving ways to wake up and recharge when it’s cold and dark.
Body Buzz Breathing
If getting out of bed and on the treadmill or out to the gym in the morning is a challenge for you, here’s an energy building exercise you can do the moment you get out of bed and swing your legs onto the floor.
The stretching and deep breathing of this exercise will get your blood pumping and your energy buzzing in just a few breaths.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides. Inhale deeply, lifting your hands, palms facing up, slowly up to your chest. As you breathe in, imagine you are drawing energy up from the bottom of your feet to your Dahn-joong (Heart Chakra).
Send the energy back down with your palms facing down from your heart down to the bottom of your feet as you breathe out.
Then lower your stance slightly, draw the energy up, breathe out, send the energy back down and this time lower your hips a little more. Continue this grounding circular breath 10-20 times.
Practice drawing upon your energy with your intention, not with your muscles. Your muscles might contract slightly, but the important thing is to move your energy with an open and receptive mind to create a concentration of energy to circulate.
Freestyle Energy Dance
You may want to put on your favorite music for this energy circulation exercise that taps into your energy centers and infuses your entire body with warming, vibrant energy.
Begin by moving all the parts of your body freely, as if you are dancing, but there are no steps or rules to follow. At first, just follow your energy however it wants to move you.
During this exercise your awareness stays at the center of your body (Middle Dahn-jon), where energy is normally concentrated.
Start out with soft movement, and as your body's senses and breath awaken, start moving with more assertion. Your knots and tensions in your joints, muscles, and even your heart will begin to relax and receive energy.
Imagine every part of your body, from internal organs, muscles and blood, to your external body, skin and hair, all moving with the flow of energy you draw from your Dahn-jon and pour throughout your entire body. Your intention is to return every part of your body to their normal, vibrant state.
As you draw your energy from your Dahn-jon, feed it to your extremities with a forceful exhale. If you do this for 1-5 minutes, your whole body can return to ease and feel ecstatic.
Qigong Horse Riding
This exercise gets its name from how it resembles riding on a horse’s back when you are posed in it. It is more vigorous than the previous two exercises. It builds strength in the thighs, opens the pelvic floor muscles and aligns the hips.
Stand with your feet twice your shoulder width apart. Rest your hands on your hip joints with the space between your thumb and index finger. Empty your upper body of tension by exhaling and relaxing your neck and shoulders.
Begin by lowering your stance very slowly while focusing on your hip joints. Slowly raise your stance, keeping your hips square.
Breathe out slowly and deeply through your mouth. Release any tension you may still feel in your upper torso. You may let your upper body bend the way it wants. Repeat this breathing 30 times.
The lower you ‘sit,’ the deeper the stretch. Practice building up to holding the pose for 60, 90 or 100 breaths. This will build your confidence and increase the energy of you lower Dahn-jon.
You don’t have to be an aerobic superstar or triathlete to keep yourself in great shape. Taking just a few deep breaths and long stretches a day, even when you’re feeling sleepy or unmotivated, can add up to big benefits over time. Incorporate them into your life for vibrant health!