Hi, Welcome! I am going to introduce you to the fourth and final Winter Self-Care Practice!
I’ll be providing you specific examples and lots of references for this practice. So, be sure to stick around till the end.
Alright, let’s get into the Fourth Fundamental Winter Practice! Which is to…
Keep your Spine and Joints Flexible!
The cold days of winter can make us feel cold and achy. So cold, that we feel cold to the bone! So achy that it hurts. Have you felt this way before? I know I have. I've had days where I would shake and tremble all day. My fingers and toes would be ice cold. It was simply, awful!
One way to combat the cold days and even colder body is through movement. Movement is essential to our everyday life, especially during the bitter cold months. It is also one of the most important practices for aging, health and maintaining strong bones. You may have heard me say it before but, movement generates warmth and warmth is health.
We need movement and warmth to lubricate our spine and joints. We also need it to keep all internal systems and organs working efficiently. Without movement, we become cold and achy just like the Winter months!
What Types of Movement?
When I speak of movement, I'm referring to the most simple and gentle movement practices. There are ways to fire up your body and create warmth without a gym, or high impact exercises like running and jumping. Full disclosure, I am not a naysayer of those actives, but they need to be done with caution. If you are going to do high impact exercises, concentrate on landing softly with your toes and then landing on your heels.
In my younger years, I spent day after day doing high impact exercise that abused my joints. Eventually, I ended up with sprained ankles and tore cartilage in my knee. Although my ankles and knee are healthy now, I’m no longer interested in high impact exercises. Thus began my journey to find a better way to generate movement, strength, and tone.
The simple and gentle practices I am referring to are ones that work with what you’ve got, your body. This means using your own body as weight, while also stretching and lengthening.
So what are these exercise?
Practices that Keep your Spine and Joints Flexible
Many of you may be familiar with “yoga.” To me, yoga can be many things, but it is not meant to be intimidating. In it’s simplest form, it moving your body in a way that feels good to you, while also paying attention to your breath, and quieting your mind. Yoga classes can be found in every town and you can absolutely find classes that accommodate your age and ability.
My favorite styles of yoga are hatha yoga, yin yoga, and kundalini yoga. They each are unique in their own way and offer benefits for all ages. Yoga Journal has excellent articles and classes on each style of yoga mentioned above. Check out the links below to learn more!
Hatha Yoga: Click here to learn more
Yin Yoga: Click here to learn more about
Kundalini Yoga: Click here to learn more
When I practice yoga, I either do a self-guided practice or I take a class at Yogaglo.com. This is an online subscription service at $18/month. It is home to many excellent instructors and thousands of yoga videos for all levels. For a free online yoga, I really like Brett Larkin Yoga on YouTube. She’s fantastic and caters to all levels and incorporates the three types of yoga above.
I do attend local yoga classes. However, due to high class rates, I get more for my buck with Yogaglo and free YouTube videos. It's really hard to beat free anyway!
Tai Qi (Tai Chi) and Qi Gong
Tai Qi (Tai Chi) and Qi Gong are next on the list. While studying for my masters in Chinese Medicine, I was introduced and practiced Qi Gong for four years. There are many forms of Qi Gong. For this article, let's speak in general terms. It is a form of meditative movement that harmonizes the body and mind to its environment. Qi Gong is similar to Tai Qi. The major difference between Qi Gong and Tai Qi is that Tai Qi draws from martial arts. To read more about the differences between Qi Gong and Tai Chi check out this article by Qi Belly. Their logo will definitely make you smile.
For an at home Tai Q practice, check out this TaiChiHealthProductions video.
For at home Qi Gong practices, check out Exercise To Heal on YouTube.
In the west, Tai Chi classes seem to be more popular than Qi Gong class. However, search both practices in Google with your location and I bet you’ll find a one or the other or both in a town near you.
Pilates can be the most vigorous of these exercises. It focuses on precision and control that will strength and lengthen your whole body, especially your core. Pilates is done laying on a mat or on the pilates reformer machine. This form of exercise is for both men and women. Get this, high school sports teams are using pilates to keep their athletes in tip-top shape during the off-season. How about that?
Below are two beginner YouTube videos. Feel free to search YouTube for your perfect class. There are so many out there. I know there's one just right for you!
Don't forget to search Google for a Pilates studio near you!
My Self-Guided Practices
In my self-guided practices, I draw from all the practices listed above to keep my spine and joints flexible and healthy. At the very least, I'll spend five minutes on my movement practice. However, I usually dedicate 30-40 minutes, whether it is self-guided or done in a class. With each practice, focus on gentle, yet heat building exercises that work all planes of the body.
The Planes of the Body are how science divides the human body. They are:
- The Sagittal plane: Divides the body into left and right
- The Coronal plane: Divides the body into front and back
- The Transverse plane: Divides the body into superior and inferior parts or head and tale
To see a few of the exercises I do daily, click here to watch a five-minute video. I created it just for you!
Disclaimer: This information is intended for general reference only. It is not a replacement for professional health advice. The content in this post intentionally does not provide dosage information or possible interactions with prescription drugs or other medications. Please contact a certified health practitioner such as a physician of Oriental Medicine or Herbalist before considering use. To schedule an appointment with Malerie, visit the services page.