Energize Your Morning with These Routines, Part 3/3: 5TR

 


This blog contains affiliate links.  For information, see full disclosure here.


What does your morning workout entail?  Ever thought of adding a simple routine that has the potential of building inner and outer strength, flexibility, and suppleness?  What if such a routine also strengthened the mind and helped you manage your stress?  Would you try it?  
In this series, I’m going to share three fairly simple yet very effective routines that I benefit from and use several days a week.  You may have heard of them, but if not, take a look, give them a try, and maybe you’ll find a new way to energize the start of your day!

Energizing Routine 3: Five Tibetan Rites

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The Five Tibetan Rites (5TR) are a series of yoga-like exercises that, like Yi Jin Jing (YJJ) and Zhan Zhuang (ZZ), can revitalize and energize both mind and body.  In fact, 5TR is sometimes referred to as a “fountain of youth” that among other things can improve eyesight and turn gray hair dark again. While that sounds great, we all know to take such statements with a grain of salt.  Still, it sounds very intriguing, so let’s take a look.

Fountain of Youth?

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Yeah, these dudes are 79 years old!

The Five Tibetan Rites consists of five exercises that are performed in order, twenty-one times each. After each set, a brief recovery pose or posture is held for few moments before continuing on with the next exercise.  If you workout on a consistent basis, at first glance the whole “twenty-one times each” won’t seem like a big deal, but it is; the challenge is real.  It is recommended that when one begins training the 5TR, one starts out slowly, say, at seven each, or less if needed, and then work up to the full twenty-one. Learning the correct form, breath coordination, and muscle usage, etc. are vital.

It is believed that by performing 5TR on a regular basis per the prescribed method, the spin of one’s internal energy centers are strengthened and realigned thereby energizing the body and the mind in amazing ways. Some of the positive effects of this realignment are said to include anti-aging, improved coordination, increased strength and flexibility, and mental and emotional grounding, clarity and enhanced calm.

My Experiences

I found the 5TR several years ago when I was searching for a simple yet engaging and healthful exercise routine to begin the day.  The benefits sounded great, even with that big grain of salt, so after researching the Rites, I gave it a try.  The newness made the routine fun but it did take several sessions to memorize the (somewhat simple) movements and coordinate the movements with the breath.  I started slowly, maybe doing just 5 or 7 reps for a week or two before adding more.  I don’t remember if I did the Rites every day, but I do recall the resulting increased endurance and strength, and greater muscle tone.

After that initial experiment, I shifted to using the 5TR on a semi-consistent basis, mainly as a quick way to build strength and endurance apart from my regular routines.  I’ll practice it for several weeks prior to a karate seminar or when it is time to exit winter training mode but other than that, it hasn’t been part of my everyday, year-round training.  Oh, and I have to admit that during all that time, I never actually hit the magical number 21; that didn’t happen until quite recently.  

So what happened at 21?  No, I wasn’t able to shed my glasses, and my bio-chronological clock didn’t tick backwards, but I did feel a noticeable increase in physical energy and mental clarity and focus.  At 21, there was an almost addictive (in a good way) sense, most likely due to endorphins, and I could hardly wait to perform the Rites again the next morning.  While this extra energy may all be in my head, a placebo effect of sorts, I’m okay with that because what starts in the mind can and often does show up in the body.  

At the time of this entry, it’s been several weeks since I last performed the 5TR.  When I start up again, either in a few weeks or at the end of winter training mode, my goal is to work my way back to 21 reps for each exercise, and do it on a consistent basis.  I want to see how long the benefits I encountered last, how far they go, and if any other benefits are unlocked.

The Next Step

If you’re curious about the 5TR, just click the link above, or if you’re fortunate to find a good teacher near you, contact them and give it a go.  Whether you purchase a book or DVD and try it on your own, or with an instructor’s supervision, following the prescribed training plan is the only way to reap the full benefits; there are no shortcuts.  

Finally, as with Yi Jin Jing and Zhan Zhuang, I’m confident if you make the 5TR a part of your morning routine, you will be glad you did!

Click over to our Five Tibetan Rites page for more resources.  


Wishing you the good, better, and absolutely best of what’s possible!

Eric



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Energize Your Morning with These Routines, Part 2: ZZ

 


This blog contains affiliate links.  For information, see full disclosure here.


What does your morning workout entail?  Ever thought of adding a simple routine that has the potential of building inner and outer strength, flexibility, and suppleness?  What if such a routine also strengthened the mind and helped you manage your stress?  Would you try it?  
In this series, I’m going to share three fairly simple yet very effective routines that I benefit from and use several days a week.  You may have heard of them, but if not, take a look, give them a try, and maybe you’ll find a new way to energize the start of your day!

Energizing Routine 2: Zhan Zhuang

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Like Yi Jin Jing (YJJ), Zhan Zhuang (ZZ) is a Chinese qigong exercise that is usually translated to mean standing post, or stand like tree. Qigong, very simply defined, is a series of Chinese physical movement exercises that emphasize  breath control, vital energy, movement, and improved health*. But, unlike YJJ, in ZZ there is very little, or ideally, no external movement at all–you just stand still.

Having read that previous sentence, you might be thinking, “Well…that’s pretty easy, I do that every day…”  No, not like this you don’t.

Just…Stand?

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Yes, stand still.  Don’t move.  Don’t fidget.  Don’t squirm.  Don’t…move.  That’s it, but there is much more to it.  When you follow the method, you’ll begin to learn to relax your muscles on a deeper level and rely on proper structure and not tension to hold you up. At the same time, as you begin to connect with and manage the subtle energy inside, believe it or not, if you stick with it, new strength will emerge.  

But don’t under estimate the seemingly simple exercise. You will sweat, you will tremble, you will ache, and you will get a good workout.  With diligent effort, one might experience increased strength, greater awareness of self, and improved grounding, and calming centeredness.  Along with this, various internal organs and systems may also be strengthened. These benefits are not instant, to be sure, but are cultivated slowly through correct and consistent practice and patience.

My Experiences

I’d heard of “standing post” training a from a fellow martial artist, a former instructor, and through various online articles on martial arts, but I didn’t really give it much thought.  It wasn’t until I entered winter training mode a few years ago that I, quite by accident, began exploring ZZ.  That year, one of my winter training goals was to learn more about internal energy methods, so in mid December I ordered this book,  The Way of Energy (see below), not realizing fully what it was about. I’m pretty sure I read the description and reviews, but when the book arrived, I was more than a little surprised that it was a deeper exploration of something I’d only heard about in passing.   

As I flipped through and scanned the what, how, and why of ZZ, I became intrigued and excited to give it a try.  The author does a great job explaining the finer details and emphasizes the need to take your time and not rush development.  Some may find the need to practice certain exercises for several months if not a full year before moving to the next level off-putting or unnecessary.  And, of course they’d be wrong.  Following the prescribed training plan is the only way to reap the benefits; there are no shortcuts.  

Almost immediately upon experiencing my first time “standing like a tree”, I was hooked. I recognized something simple yet powerful in this exercise.  As I continued to train, I hit the milestones the author described and eventually began to notice positive changes. One of the most important for me personally is greater sense of muscle control, as in which are being used and how efficiently are they being used for the tasks at hand.  Along with that, I feel stronger internal body connection and energetic flow. And, standing in an unnecessarily long line at the grocery store, or airport is now much less of an annoyance and more of an opportunity to train! 

While the author recommends practicing outside under a tree, one can practice indoors and still make great progress.  The few times I have stood like a tree while standing by a tree have been amazing.  Whether indoors or out, this is a vital part of my morning routine.

The Next Step

You don’t have to be martial arts to practice ZZ.  If you’re curious, just click the link above, take a look at the book, or if you’re fortunate to find a good teacher, contact them and give it a go.  If you stay with it, you will be glad you did!

You can also find other ZZ books and resources on our Zhan Zhuang page.  


Wishing you the good, better, best of what’s possible!

Eric



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Is Your Deo Doing More Harm Than Your BO?

 


Let’s face it, we humans can raise a stink, especially during summer.  One doesn’t have to be super-active to sweat, and that sweat feeds and fuels the bacterial hoards that cause body odor (BO).  That’s just how it is, and while it’s natural and normal, it can be…unpleasant.

While the store shelves are overflowing with hundreds of options when it comes to products designed for keeping the BO at a minimum, we need to be on the look out for potentially dangerous chemicals that could do us more harm than good.  As you’ll recall from science class, our skin absorbs to some degree or another almost everything that comes in contact with it.  That means both the good and the bad chemicals can and do pass through your skin, even when this protective barrier is sound.  Unfortunately, some of the chemicals in deodorants may be linked to cancer and other diseases, could be neurotoxic, and may be hormone and endocrine disruptors so, in general, minimize use of, or stay away from products containing any of the following.

Top Chemicals to Avoid

  • Aluminum (or sodium bicarbonate that isn’t explicitly aluminum-free)
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Synthetic Fragrance
  • Parabens (Ex: methylparaben, sodium butylparaben, etc)
  • Petrochemicals (Ex: paraffin wax, benzene, PEG, mineral oil, petrolatum, etc)
  • Phthalates (Ex: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), etc)
  • Sulfates (Ex: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, etc)

Healthier Alternatives 

After reading that list you’re probably thinking, “Come on, dude, I get it, I’m with you, it’s all bad, but what in the #@%* am I supposed to use then?” 

Thankfully, there are many healthier alternatives formulated with natural ingredients that do not contain these harsh chemicals, and some of the best can be found on our Deodorant page, so click over and take a look.  

Sure some of these healthier choices may be a little more expensive than the standard, probably tainted, $1.99 roll on, but then again, your health is worth a few extra bucks, isn’t it?  

Yes it is, and more.


 


Wishing you the good, better, best of what’s possible!

Eric



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7 Hot Essentials for a not so Cruel Summer


Yes, summer is finally, officially, here!  But, no matter how long or hot it actually may be, summer never, never, ever seems to last long enough.  Since that’s always the case, let’s do all we can to enjoy to the full this season of sun and fun.  In order to do that, in order to help make this your best and healthiest* summer yet, be sure to have these seven essentials on hand:

1. Sunscreen

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These days, everyone knows that if you are going to spend any appreciable amount of time in the sun, you need to wear sunscreen.  And, everyone knows not all sunscreens are created equal.  Not only does the Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, matter, but what’s in the sunscreen may matter just as much, if not more.  You’ll want to choose a sunscreen made of natural ingredients and free of suspect chemicals such as parabens and phthalates, and nano-particles.  Such harsh chemicals may cause or contribute to long-term health issues*, so please avoid them.

If you need healthier alternatives, your Martial – Fitness Minimart is here to help!  Visit our new Sunscreen page for organic, paraben-free, nano-particle-free, better for the environment options.  Get what you need, so you can enjoy your time in the sun!

2. Swimsuits

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If you’re still wearing that old suit from last summer or the summer before, it’s time to upgrade.  Check out our Women’s Swimwear page for a wide assortment of hot bikinis and sweet swimsuits.  Be sure to take advantage of Rosewe’s crazy-generous discounts too!

3. Super-Hydration

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It goes without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway: drink lots of water.  Whether you’re working or playing in the summer heat, or working out or playing in a cushy club’s A/C, drink good quality water.  Then drink some more.  Our bodies are mostly water, so even a “touch” of dehydration can negatively affect your mental focus, emotional capacity, and physical performance.  

When you’re sweating, you’re also leaking precious minerals that you’ll need to replace.   Consider adding Hydration and Mineral Support aids to your water.  I’ve compiled several great options for you that are free of dangerous and unnecessary additives.

If water is just not your thing and you prefer something with a little taste, throw in natural / non-GMO / organic fruit or vegetable slices for a hint of flavor:

  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits (orange, lemons, limes, etc)
  • Peach or plum slices
  • Melons (water, honeydew, etc)
  • Cucumbers
  • Mint leaves
  • Ginger slices
  • Garlic and black pepper (not really, just checking to see if you’re paying attention)

We’ve also got you covered if you need a handy, BPA-free, or stainless steel Water Bottle.

4. Smelly-Pit Eliminators

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Let’s faces it, we humans can raise a stink, especially during summer.  One doesn’t have to be super-active to sweat, and that sweat feeds and fuels the bacterial hoards that cause body odor.  That’s just how it is, and while it’s natural and normal, it can be unpleasant.

The market is overflowing with body wash and deodorants that can help, but most of them contain potentially dangerous chemicals like sulfates, parabens, silicone, artificial fragrances, and petroleum products.  Thankfully, there are many healthier alternatives with natural ingredients that do not contain these chemicals, and some of the best are found on our Deodorant page.

5. Soap

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Why is soap an essential for summer?  If you have kids, work with kids, or ever was a kid, you know why.   While some dirt won’t hurt and is actually good for you, you’re gonna wanna wash your hands at least a few times this summer.  Wash up after a day in the garden, or working on the lawn mower.  Lather up after fishing, or playing with said kids.  Clean up after enjoying an evening cookout on the deck with friends.

Like the previous essential item, you’ll want to watch out for the nasty chemicals that could compromise your health*.  Fortunately, as with the previous item, our page, Bar and Liquid Soap, has the healthier options you’ll appreciate.

6. Snacks

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Good healthy snacks make for a good day.  A good day makes for a good week, and a string of good weeks makes for a fantastic summer.  See, your summer hinges on your choice of snacks!  Good thing we’ve got a whole bunch of good, organic, non-GMO snacks to choose from here:

7. Savory Grillin’ Meats

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If you’re going to grill, go all the way.  If you’re going to grill, grill grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry, or wild-caught seafood.  Sure, hotdogs are cheap and easy, but why waste time, energy, and money on cheap and easy pseudo-food filled with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives?

No, go all-in and enjoy the natural full flavor, and the nutrients, of High-Quality Beef, Poultry, and Seafood, and steak!

8. Bonus Essential: Songs of Summers Past

Summertime  by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

Cruel Summer  by Bananarama

Summer Breeze by Seals & Croft

Summer Breeze (Tsuper Tsunami remix)

Summer Law #1701-E: one must listen to or view a minimum of one of the above songs / videos at least twice per summer, or else.


There you go.  Be sure to visit each page, browse the aisles, and grab your summer essentials.

 

Please share, share, share, the Martial – Fitness Minimart, and like, like, like its pages and posts.  Oh, and find us on Facebook too.

Now go and make it a great summer!

Eric

 

 

Create a Balanced Life With Fitness and Overall Self-Care

 


Ms. Susan Treadway, an addict in recovery, authored the following guest post. She uses a holistic approach to sobriety to stay on a successful path and believes adopting even a few holistic methods can help anyone struggling with addiction.

Susan wants everyone to know that you don’t have to be a hippie to embrace holistic wellness – this concept is simply about focusing on your entire sense of well-being rather than just one part. She hopes her website, rehabholistics.com, will inspire anyone who has struggled with addiction to incorporate holistic practices into their own self-care routine.



Everyone has their own unique fitness goals. Whatever your personal goals are, if you work hard in the gym but don’t make time for other self-care practices, you won’t achieve overall wellness. Finding balance in our busy lives is a challenge, but incorporating regular self-care just may be the solution.

Self-Care Is a Process

Fitness does much more than help us achieve our personal goals. Being active keeps your body healthy, while also warding off stress and anxiety. These are the main components of any self-care practice — giving your body and mind some TLC. Fitness is only one way to achieve self-care, though. You also need rest, relaxation, and good nutrition. Doing these things should be an ongoing process that you practice every day. Adding self-care to your to-do list may feel like an impossible task, but these ideas will help make it easier.

Make Good Nutrition Simple 

Eating a balanced diet is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. One way to make nutrition more convenient is to find a meal delivery or grocery service in your area. These services eliminate the time spent planning and shopping, and many also offer low-calorie meals, so they make eating a balanced diet much easier to fit into your busy life.

Another self-care must when it comes to nutrition is to always eat breakfast. Whether you grab a protein shake to take on the go or you put together a healthy breakfast at night to have ready the next day, eating breakfast sets you up to feel your best all day long. And when it comes to fixing dinner, electric pressure cookers can easily and quietly help you create simple, delicious meals such as mac and cheese, BBQ pulled pork, and tomato soup, just to name a few.

Proper nutrition can also be easily obtained by eating the right amount of food daily. However, this might be difficult for those who are trying to manage their hunger. While eating foods high in protein and fiber are solid solutions, appetite suppressants also exist to help with hunger control. If you are planning to go with the latter option, it’s important to proceed with caution and do your research first to find the one that’s best for you. Keep in mind too that some appetite suppressants can interact with certain medications, and some contain caffeine, which can lead to feeling jittery and uncomfortable.

Create Daily Rituals

We all have our daily routines, from waking up in the morning and getting ready for our day to how we relax and unwind before bed. To make self-care stick as a way of life, look at how you can incorporate it into those routines with simple rituals. Remember that these rituals aren’t about the end result. Instead, it’s about the process of doing things that are good for you. Consider trying these ideas:

  • Meditate – Can you add a quick meditation session to part of your day? Perhaps first thing in the morning or right after a workout.
  • Practice yoga – Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stretch out sore muscles while caring for your mental health so you feel less stressed and more relaxed. Group yoga sessions are fun, but you can also do a quick yoga practice at home. If you don’t have a spare room, consider adapting a room for your yoga practice that you don’t use that often. A rarely used dining room can be perfect for this purpose.
  • Get outside – Getting some fresh air and connecting with nature makes you feel more grounded and helps achieve balance. If you live in the city, simply taking a walk around the block or heading to a park will do the trick, and this is an easy ritual to combine with fitness.

Take Back Your Time

When you feel like there is simply no time to take care of yourself, the best thing you can do is stop spending time on things that aren’t good for you. Mind Body Green calls these “low-value habits,” and they can be anything from time spent watching TV or engaging in social media to checking emails and making small talk. Reducing these distractions is in itself an act of self-care, and it frees up your time for what truly matters.

Be Mindful of Your Schedule

Just like everything else in life, your schedule is all about balance. If you struggle to make self-care practices stick, try writing them down in a planner just as you would for appointments. At the same time, Bustle reminds us that we should also leave room for spontaneity. Balancing out your schedule helps make self-care a priority, but it also means allowing for fun and trying new things.

Self-care is truly the key to leading a more balanced life. It helps us live more fully, and it’s necessary to see fitness results. Most importantly, self-care doesn’t have to be a chore. When you make these rituals part of your new routine, it no longer feels like something you have to do and becomes a part of your daily life.

Susan Treadway



Best to you!

Eric