Feeling like you need some solid ground to walk on? Political, economic or personal climate making your life feel a little less ‘solid’? Here are 7 exercises to help build a foundation of steadiness in this season of long days and lots of light. Experiment with one or more exercise in a way that best suits you. Commit to 7 weeks of summer to bring you into September with more vitality and balance. If you feel like you need a foundation to begin with, try this video that incorporates ancient and modern practices into 7 exercises:
Stillness: Cut the screen time down, reprioritize, and put aside time when you can rest. Try starting with 10 minutes a day when you will not be disturbed. Try to increase the time during the 7 weeks.
Smile: Turn the corners of your mouth upward as if to smile. Notice how it relaxes the muscles of your face and gets rid of the furrow in your brow. Do this several times a day. And yes, this is an ancient qigong practice!
Stretch and Strengthen: Explore a way where you can gently stretch out the muscles that shorten from overuse or stress. Find a good yoga class or create a home practice for 20 minutes a day. Be sure to balance your stretching with strengthening. Choose something you like: biking, hiking, dancing, swimming, or whatever will work to build your strength. Commit to whatever you choose several times a week. A good yoga class will combine the two.
Cleanse: When I was in China, I saw people in the parks in the early morning standing near trees and ‘guiding’ the fresh energy (or qi) as it is called into their bodies with their hands. You can practice a similar exercise: stand in a place with fresh air with arms relaxed by your sides. Turn the palms outward and slowly raise the arms while imagining collecting fresh energy from the environment into the palms of your hands. When your arms are over your head, turn the palms to face the ground and slowly move your hands down in front of your body imagining fresh qi entering the top of your head cleansing the entire body.
Balance: Balancing on one foot is difficult if you are thinking about what you will do for dinner or about a conflict you had with someone earlier in the day. This simple posture pulls you into the present. Try it. Shift your weight to one side. When you feel steady, lift the other foot a few inches off the ground.
Breathe: Come back to an awareness of your breathing any time of the day and be grateful for this automatic life-giving mechanism.
Go ahead, incorporate one or several of the above into your daily routine. I switch it up according to season. This summer I am practicing The Five Routines outdoors in the morning at least once a week. I attend a couple of yoga classes during the week and am enjoying acupuncture treatments every other week until September. I try to keep an attitude and lead a lifestyle that makes me smile naturally.
Here is to the next 7 weeks!