Breathing - The Cure For What Ails You

I admit it - I took breathing for granted for a large portion of my life. It was one of those bodily functions that just happened. I didn't think about it. And I certainly didn't pay much attention to it. Then I stumbed upon yoga and meditation and now I'm more aware - and appreciative - of my breath than ever.

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Training recommendations to avoid weakening of bones

Approximately ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass, (osteopenia). A disease without symptoms, osteoporosis affects about 20 percent of men and 80 percent of women. While the bones gradually become weaker, they are more likely to break in a minor fall or, if left untreated, even from something as simple as a sneeze. The most frequent fracture sites are hip, wrist and spine, although any bone in your body could be affected.

A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis could be scary, leading most people to stop exercisse due to fear it will cause fractures. The truth is that those with low bone mass should make a point to exercise regularly.

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Mental Strength

Mental-Strength-1In his book ‘Wado-Ryu’ karate, Hironori Otsuka tells us that there are three kinds of strength - Physical Strength, Technical Strength and Mental Strength - and if any of those is deficient it will be “ the downfall of the individual “. It’s a common misconception throughout the martial arts that ‘technique’ is the key; if we have good technique then we will be effective in combat. The fact is that technique is no more or less important than physical fitness or mental conditioning. Many martial artists dislike this idea as it infers that those with poor technique can defeat those with good technique (if they lack the required mental and physical condition). A labourer on a building site (physically conditioned) who regularly gets involved in bar fights (mentally used to combat) could easily defeat the martial artist who concentrates on technique to the exclusion of the other forms of strength.

If we are to be able to effectively defend ourselves then we need to ensure that our training also develops physical condition and mental strength in addition to technique. The key is to ensure that our training is intense enough to encourage growth in all three areas e.g. we drill our techniques with intensity and to the point of exhaustion (stimulates physical strength) and no matter how much we want to quit or ease off, we then drill them some more (stimulates mental strength).

We need at least two sessions a week that take us to our very limits. They key is not duration but intensity. We can train for hours and never break sweat or we can work flat out for around two minutes and be close to throwing up. Real fights are extremely intense and, if our training is to be valid, we also need to train in an intense way. This intensity in training has many benefits besides increased combative effectiveness.

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Mental Toughness And Resilience - High Frustration Tolerance

Here is an essential principle of Mental Toughness:

We all experience frustration when our needs, wants and demands are not met, or when we are faced with obstacles that impede our progress. Frustration is a fact of life; therefore our ability to tolerate frustration is crucial to the successful achievement of our long-term goals.

When we are easily frustrated and upset, we are said to have, Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT). If, on the other hand, we are less disturbed or upset by short-term frustrations, and persevere through difficulties, we are said to have High Frustration Tolerance (HFT). Developing High Frustration Tolerance is vital to good mental health and a key element of Mental Toughness.

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Using Taiji and Qigong as a Tool for Inner Peace

by Ronnie Robinson

qigongHaving taught taiji and qigong for over 20 years, the last 10 of which have been as a professional instructor, I have worked with a wide range of people from many social backgrounds and, through this time I am slowly coming to believe that, despite our many differences, we all seek the same goal, inner peace, and contentment. This being the case I am becoming acutely aware that often the search takes us further away from ourselves and makes it harder to find this inner contentment.

One of the first things I do when starting work with a new group is to ask them why they have decided to come to the class, in one or two words. Around 80% of the reasons given include the words, relaxation or stress reduction. Of course, if we asked these good people to expand upon their single word responses, we would hear terms like increased energy, better health, less resistance to disease etc. All of us who teach or practice these arts would see these as potential benefits which can be gained from continued practice but, the main problem is in creating a place that allows students to experience the benefits as quickly as they can, so that they are suitably stimulated to devote the necessary time and commitment to the work of achieving their goal of becoming more relaxed, less stressed and ultimately at peace with themselves.

In my early days as a teacher, I would spend a lot of time checking for correct postures, looking out for the usual potential dangers that can result from over-doing things, as well as taking care to impart what information I had in a clear, methodical manner. Getting it right was my God. Show them how to perform the movements, let them make a few mistakes, but slowly work to put things right. I continually spoke to the group, advising them of where their arms should be, told them to relax their shoulders, go a little slower, feel the gentle opening up of the body and so on...

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