Anni Dixon - The Gentle Healer

 

Help Yourself to Health

III. Exercise

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Exercise is a powerful tool to help yourself to relief from chronic ill health. The main reason for this is that exercise which causes muscles to contract and relax, squeeze and let go, physically  pumps lymphatic fluid through the system, removing metabolic debris and other waste that may have built up, and therefore cleaning and 'refreshing' the cells so they can do their work better.
The Importance of the Fluids, especially Lymph
 
Good Health relies on the simple fact that organs, tissues and cells, the operating system of the body, are kept clean and in good working order. Whenever health deteriorates, the cells become clogged, preventing fluids and the nourishment they transport, from moving easily through. That tired, sluggish feeling is a direct result of poor transport of fluids through body cells, tissues and organs.
 
Returning the fluids to a state of crystal clarity is helped by a regular programme of appropriate exercise. As stated above, exercise results in more effective pumping of fluids through the tissue, which in turn improves removal of wastes.
 
There are very many different ways of exercising. Here are some that are especially useful for improving health.
 
Types of Exercise
 
I.Progressive Muscle Relaxation
 
The type of exercise you do will depend on your personal preference, as well as what is possible in terms of your physical capacity. If you are very ill you may not be able to exercise much. However, it is possible to exercise even when you are bed-ridden, and the progressive muscle relaxation exercise is a positive place to begin :
 
 
 
Adding Isotonic muscle contractions : squeezing large, then smaller, muscle groups, holding them tight for a count that you choose, that is within your strength capacity, then releasing the group as you breathe out, enables you to maintain and even increase muscle strength, even while you are confined to a lot of rest. Such exercise will also move fluid through the system, even when you cannot get out and about much. It is not the same as aerobic exercise, but it is a way of helping yourself even at times of greatly reduced normal activity.
 
II.Yoga
 
As you increase in strength and positive energy, the next best form of exercise to introduce, in my humble opinion, is Yoga.
 
Yoga is the most scientific, proven method to enhance health and well-being. A major reason for this is that it involves systematic, rhythmic, stretching, squeezing, kneading, and relaxing, of muscles and the organs and structures lying beneath these.
 
Yoga is the best way to give yourself a thorough massage!
 
As part of the above, it provides the pump par excellence for lymphatic fluids, as well as blood.
 
Through Yoga it is possible to deeply knead and massage, squeeze and drain, your kidneys, liver, spleen, and intestinal tract.
 
When practised in conjunction with awareness of breath, and different ways of using the breath, all the above benefits are carried even deeper, and become yet more dynamic and therapeutic.
 
Cautions
Yoga has become incredibly popular over the past ten years. There are numerous different approaches, and teachers. There are teachers who push you to work your body more rigorously, even if it hurts. Sadly, some people have sustained injuries through going to those classes.
My personal belief is that the body responds more deeply when you work within its own limits, and resist the temptation to treat it like a machine, by pushing it harder and harder before it is ready.
This applies to both physical stretching, and use of the breath.
Do not force the breath, and do not force the limbs.
Bring your attention into the breath, and let its natural, unforced rhythm,  carry you into a letting go, where your muscles feel tight. If you let go, rather than pushing, into tight structures, you will be amazed at how they will soften and lengthen, especially if you let go into the out-breath.
Take the time to seek out a teacher you feel complete trust in. There are teachers who have a very sensitive approach to their students... but start with the beginners class if you have never done any Yoga before!
 
You could try ringing the British Wheel of Yoga to get a recommendation for a teacher, as well as to locate one close to you. BWY teachers are fully trained and you have some protection through this organisation if anything does not seem right.
 
Site of the British Wheel of Yoga
 
An International source of yoga info.
 
One-to-One Yoga and stress reduction training, based in the UK.
 
Popular UK Yoga mag, with wide array of interesting articles. Good resource.
 
III.Pilates
 
Pilates is very similar to Yoga, but addresses only the physical body. Some people find it has a greater capacity to re-align the body in a shorter time than Yoga, and it may use mechanical equipment to help achieve this.
 
Although very thorough in terms of the physical body, it does not include the comprehensive coverage that yoga offers, of breathwork and meditation. Yoga can carry the student into a deepened awareness and knowledge of the self; Pilates will not do this.
 
Find out more :
 
 
 
IV.Tai Chi
 
This is a very ancient form of therapeutic exercise that works with the subtle body, via the physical body and movement. It is both balancing, centering, and grounding.
 
For more :
 
 
 
V.Chi Gung
 
There are numerous branches of Chi Gung. All work with both physical and subtle systems, as does T'ai Chi. Mantak Chia is a major worldwide teacher of one form of Chi Gung, and has published many books describing how to do the exercises, as well as the underlying theory.
 
Falun Gong is a very simple, easy to learn, yet uplifting form, which has been outlawed in China because it is so popular. The following site will tell you much more, as well as how to learn the practice. My own experience of this practice is that it immediately brings a sense of light into my 'field', as well as safe subtle boundaries.
 
 
 
VI.Walking/Running
 
Both walking and running are good forms of exercise, depending on your state of health. Preferably both will be done in the open air (rather than in a stuffy gym where you re-breathe the expelled carbon dioxide of other gym-users!), under trees, on grass and earth, or by running water.
 
Both increase the pumping activity of the muscles upon the fluids of the body, but by repetitive use of the same muscle groups, as compared to Yoga, where the muscle groups used are constantly changing, more groups are used, and the smaller muscles also get worked.
 
It is of huge importance that good footwear is used when both walking and running!
In particular, runners need shoes that protect the bones of the feet and lower limbs from repetitive, sharp, weight-bearing impact on hard surfaces.
 
Also extremely important for runners : note your posture all the time! Where is the weight landing? Are your limbs and spine aligned when they take the impact of your weight? Are your muscles lifting you up and away from the ground or is your body like a sack of potatoes as it hits the ground?.... which will cause damage to ligaments and joints over time, and definitely not help you to feel better!
 
VII.Cycling
 
Cycling also assists pumping of lymphatic fluid, and aerates the blood stream. It can be very helpful for people who are not well enough to take much exercise that involves weight bearing, as the weight of the torso is carried by the bike.
 
It is also very therapeutic psychologically because of the sense of freedom, independence, and gentle, flowing movement.
 
It strengthens the leg muscles, though does not have any effect on other muscles apart from the heart, the work of which is intensified by the need to deliver extra blood and energy to the leg muscles.
 
If possible, cycle on quiet roads where the air is reasonably unpolluted, or in the country and parks.
 
VIII.Swimming
 
Swimming is a marvelous form of exercise especially for anyone who is not able to do weight-bearing exercise. However, the chlorine liberally poured into public swimming baths is a neuro-toxin and could be counter-productive to anyone whose health problems are related to environmental toxins.
 
Baths in some areas are purified with ozone, which is apparently harmless.
 
Otherwise you may need to visit the sea as often as you can!
 
 
 
IX. Mudras
 
Mudras are positions of the hands and fingers, which connect the end/beginning points of the meridians, or energy pathways of the body. This improves flow of energy through those pathways, bringing numerous benefits to the health of mind body and soul.
 
For anyone who is too depleted to do other forms of exercise, mudras are of especial value, because they can be practised in bed, or seated, anywhere, at any time, without special clothes or other conditions.
 
Gertrud Hirschi's book on Mudras is the most comprehensive available, and offers other information whilst still remaining very easy to use. Buy it from :
 
 
X. Do-In
 
Do-In is a very ancient Eastern form of exercise which combines self-massage, self-acupressure, and stretches similar to yoga. Like yoga, it has a special capacity to enhance the activity and drainage of the lymphatic fluid, as well as deepen the breath quality. It is these factors that make it an excellent method to include in any programme of exercise to ease chronic health issues.
 
Unfortunately I have been unable to locate either a website or a book reference for this method. Books did exist during the eighties and early nineties so it is worth hunting in second hand bookstores. A likely publisher would be American with an emphasis on Japanese health practices.
 
XI. Swimming Dragon
 
This is a Chi Gung exercise that involves slowly lowering the body on the outbreath, whilst moving the closed palms in a twisting path from side to side, passing over the solar plexus, and digestive area, the lower abdomen, and generative organs, and the throat/thyroid, which governs metabolism.
 
At the end of the movement, you rise up on the toes, with the closed palms above the head, which pumps lymph from the ankles upwards.
 
The twisting movement tends to produce the need to evacuate the bowels, and the whole exercise is reputed not just to bring a more resonant activity of chi within the body, but also to improve the metabolic, digestive and cleansing activity of the abdominal tissues and organs.
 
Therefore, it may help with weight loss and improve removal of waste materials, whilst rejuvenating metabolism. 
 
The book, 'The Swimming Dragon', by T.K.Shih, gives full and easy to learn instructions, and is available on Amazon, as well as the author's webpage, at
 
 
This one gives a picture which may help a little :
 
 
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