Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole my mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.

 

Mind-Body Workout #10: Strengthening Your Roots

Welcome back mind-body students! We have had a lot of posts about research and special events on the blog lately! These are all great, and I am so happy to share the amazing work we are doing with all of you. However, I also like to have action on my blog too!

So let's dive into a great mind-body workout this week, and get back into the groove of our mind-body routine!


Mind-Body Workout #10: Strengthening Your Roots

Let's begin with some stretching of the key muscles that support stability and balance. Stretching these muscles is not only important for flexibility and avoiding falls, but it is also a key part to releasing our skeleton from being a prisoner of the soft tissue. This improves blood flow, which allows oxygen to reach all of our cells more effectively, and energizes our whole mind-body system!

The first stretch will be the Flamingo Stretch for our hips. Our hips are the core of our body, and they are responsible for directing the strength that we generate from our legs. Having strong roots is not much help if you cannot use your hips correctly! Do the stretch to each side (each leg) for 2-3 minutes, using whatever support you need.

Next we will stretch our lower back out in each of its major directions using the Five Musketeers Stretch. Just like with the hips, the lower back is responsible for directing a lot of the strength of our root system (our legs). If your lower back is tight, you will not be able to properly strengthen your legs! Do this stretch like I show in the video, for about 1-2 minutes at each angle. Use blocks or books and pillows to properly support yourself so that you are doing 80% effort.

For our last stretch, we will be working on the tightest muscles in our body: our hamstrings! This technique is an old favorite I call "Vitamin H." While we do this stretch, we will also be focusing on performing "water breath." This will begin to really engage our mind and breath into the workout. This stretch you can hold for 3-4 minutes, but make sure you are doing 80% effort, just like before!

For our first of three strengthening exercises, we will be moving Up and Down Like the Moon and the Sun. Remember to do the two sets, legs apart and legs together. Up to 15 (in each set!) is beginner level, 15-30 repetitions is intermediate, and 30-50 repetitions is the advanced level of leg strength. Do the amount that you are able to with 80% effort. 

From working our quadriceps and other thigh muscles, we are moving down to the calves! This exercise has you go up onto your toes, and then roll back onto your heals. It works your calf muscles as well as massages the bottom of your feet. The feet are so important for generating the strength and force from the ground that everyone needs. Whether you are a martial artists who wants to throw a powerful kick, or just a person who needs to run up and down a flight of stairs, strong and flexible feet are so important. Do this 20-30 times, and be sure to pay attention to your breathing like I mention in the video.

Finally, we are going to practice moving up and down from the floor safely. This may seem like it contradicts what our workout is about. Why would we practice this if the goal is to have strong roots and not to fall over? The answer is pretty simple! Everyone falls over sometime. When you practice this movement, not only are you getting a good workout in for your whole body (especially your legs), but you will also be teaching your body how to react when it loses balance: bend the knees, move down low in a straight down way so your body can "collapse" instead of "fall". Do this 10 times to each side, practicing getting down and up from one side and then the other.

And that's all for this week! I hope you enjoy the workout!

And as always, happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Correct Alignment in the Standing Posture

Welcome back, mind-body students!

This week, we continue our discussion of achieving correct alignment with a video about upper body alignment while standing.

I call this technique "Crane Flies." As I show in the video, you can practice this standing against the wall first in order to get a good feel for what the correct alignment of the spine and neck is. Then, when you feel like you have the posture committed to memory, you can step away from the wall and practice while free-standing.

Remember to touch the wall with your heels, sacrum, shoulder blades, and back of the head. Your lumbar spine (lower back above your hips) should not be touching the wall. You should be able to pass your hand between your lower back and the wall.

The great thing about this exercise is that you can feel, as you do the movement, which parts of your back are tightest. That way you can determine what to stretch next to release your skeleton from being a prisoner of soft tissue.

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Correct Alignment in the Sitting Posture

Welcome back mind-body students!

This week, I want to share a video with you about correct alignment. Correct alignment is so important to a successful mind-body practice. In a similar way to how isolating the joints allows you to achieve better health outcomes during your tai chi and exercise, correct alignment allows you to achieve better health outcomes both during your mind-body practice, and when you are sitting at your desk, driving your car, walking, or doing anything really!

The first thing you need to study is this: there is a difference between what your body is designed to do, and what it probably tends to do. Things like your head craning forward, your shoulders staying shrugged, your chest and back slumping down and so on are all examples of bad tendencies our body has.

Once you learn to recognize when your body is doing those bad tendencies, you can practice correcting them. A great way to practice that is by focusing on what I call the "Major Up and Down Forces".

The three "Up" forces, which are areas of your body that should feel like they are lifting up when you are in correct alignment, are the lumbar spine (lower back), thoracic spine (middle/upper back), and the top of your head.

The three "Down" forces, which are areas of your body that should feel as relaxed as possible (without drooping!) when you are in correct alignment. They are the abdominal muscles, the shoulders, and the face.

Ideally, through practice with this video and my face meditation video, you get to the point where you can experience all six major forces at the same time and achieve correct alignment.

I have even more advice in the video, so don't miss it!

Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

Suggested Reading: Fighting the Inevitability of Aging

Welcome back mind-body students!

This week, we have a special post: my father-in-law contributed to an article on sarcopenia in Nature International Journal of Science. I highly suggest you read it! Especially if you are interested in health and medical sciences.

As life expectancy continues to rise and the population of elderly people increases, the need for treatment of diseases associated with aging is becoming more and more important. Sarcopenia is one of those conditions that can be treated with relatively simple and totally non-invasive means. There is a lot of progress being made, and a lot still to be made!

Enjoy the read!


An in case you missed it, be sure to check out my new course on Udemy! It's called Martial Meditations: Reduce Stress & Make Better Decisions. It's still on sale, so be sure to check it out and recommend it to your friends and family!