It’s a rare opportunity that you can start a health blog quoting an ‘S Club 7’ song, but there you are these are unforeseen times.
Before you know it Boris will be copying my slogan for movement: putting it on the side of a bus ‘ Don’t Stop Movin to the Lockdown Beat.' All health professionals are talking about the validity of exercise, now more than ever.
Reason being there is a literal captive audience, people have more time with either being furloughed or time freed up with no commute. Educating and encouraging a healthier nation keeps chronic illness out of the NHS which is a major priority. Whatever the motivation highlighting the benefits of movement is vital.
All of you will know the general stuff about exercise and its benefits, improved mood, releasing endorphins and increasing immunity are amongst the few popular ones at the moment.
Below the Chinese perspective of what happens to your body when you don’t move your qi (energy). I will use the most obvious three meridians here and they cover both mind and body symptoms.
THE SPLEEN: OVERTHINKING
Feeling particularly groggy in the mornings? Foggy headed, listless and can’t concentrate? Wanting to eat carbs and comfort food that is full of empty calories? This is the spleen. In Chinese medicine it is famous for ‘transporting and transforming’ (T and T) food, fluids, energy and blood to nourish the body. It is weakened by overwork and overthinking and its very prone to becoming sluggish. A slow spleen creates the above symptoms and poor digestion, bloating, lethargy and worry. Worry becomes a circular pattern.
The last thing we want to do (especially those of us who don’t have a great deal in their isolation diary aside from ('The Sopranos’ and ‘making a pom- pom’) is get out of bed and do some sort of exercise. But your spleen wont perform T and T if you let it become sloth- like. You need to move to allow things to transport and transform and help shift your worries away from your mind, digest food properly to give you energy.
THE LIVER: AGITATION AND ANGER
I am of the mindset that gratitude is a vital component for keeping us grounded in lockdown but also being a realist, there is much to feel agitated about.
Frustration is born from the lack of control we are all experiencing at the moment.
The Liver is the representation of anger in CM. Anger is a useful emotion too, it creates upward energy and growth and gives us motivation. In normal circumstances the Spring is the time we feel energetic and want to’ get back out there’ so movement at this time is key to deal with the extra qi in the liver. Headaches, skin rashes, feeling itchy , achy muscles, painful periods are all signs the liver is ticked off.
If you don’t move your liver qi, you can become a real pain in the ‘isolation.’ If you let too much agitation build inside the system it can make us feel depressed. The ‘upward’ anger turns ‘inward’ and drives mood down A lack of movement also creates stagnation. This is such a great adjective used in Chinese medicine it says a lot. Stagnation is where the issues stem from.
So as Taylor Swift advises’ Shake it Off’.
THE LUNGS: GRIEF
There are many people who are experiencing grief in a traditional sense the loss of a loved one. Yet many of us feel a low- level form of grief for: the way things were, our identity our routines, our friends , the uncertain way of life in the future etc. There is a very interesting article citing grief expert David Kessler here. That Discomfort You Are Feeling is Grief.
Might help put a finger on some of your unnamed feelings at the moment.
The lungs control the qi for the entire system and they defend the body against 'invasion from pathogens' ( I do love that phrase). We need to keep the air and qi circulating in the lungs to allow things to move and not take hold- especially in reference to Covid 19. Keep fresh air coming into your homes and fresh air and blood into your lungs. Expansion of the lungs also helps the grief shift.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Lets not go overboard and turn into ‘The Rock’. We aren’t needing to run marathons and do any of those cross fit things I know nothing about, if that’s your bag, then great. If your current motivation is mixed like mine seems to be, simple concentrated movement sessions are needed 4 times a week to keep The Spleen , Liver and Lungs away from stagnation. 30 minutes or more at a time is a good start.
My personal experience says if I don’t get it done early in the day the sloth quality of the Spleen takes over and the day becomes a write off- movement wise.
A list of tunes to get yourself tapping to, my brilliant yoga teachers who do live classes on zoom ( The Float Spa has a huge variety of teachers and styles of yoga) some Chinese Qi Gong to strengthen lung qi.
‘Bedroom dancing’ one of my tried and true favourites I have included my playlist here featuring S Club 7
Yoga here are some of my trusted and loved teachers- you can join a live class which is much better for your practice.
The Float Spa Classes
Yoga With Adrienne
Peter Deadman Qi Gong
Walking for at least 30 mins at a time
Running -Couch to 5 Km is a good option
Zumba class online
Dig out your old Davina DVDS!
Keep your qi on its toes and perhaps we can become a 'Rythmn Nation' as Janet Jackson suggested all those years ago.