Day 178

I’ve been hearing a lot about  the benefits of slowing down your exercise routine these days. At the gym this morning I did a fantastic classcalled Willpower & Grace — a perfect combination of calistentics and yoga that requires strenght, endurance, and core power.

Meanwhile, the book, IN PRAISE OF SLOWNESS, by the Canadian journalist Carl Honore,  examines what he calls the cult(ure) of speed and urges us to slow down, lest life whiz by too fast for us to enjoy. Naturally he speaks highly of walking, and  I especially love the reflections from the steampunk environmentalist, Edward Abbey, who wrote,

Walking takes longer, for example, than any other form of locomotion except crawling. Thus, it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed…Walking makes the world much bigger and therefore more interesting. You have time to observe the details.

Honore also gives a pretty funny account of his first encounter with the SuperSlow weightlifting movement, in which (mostly) men lift and hold weights for 30 minutes and leave entire spent but not having broken a sweat.

So I was pretty psyched to find this slow, metabolism-boosting qigong exercise, “Swimming Dragon,”  on Dr. Mao’s wellness blog today. I’m going to try it tomorrow — hope you will, too!

Exercise 1: Swimming Dragon speeds up your metabolism
This simple qigong exercise can help speed up your metabolism and reduce your appetite. Not unlike a belly dance, Swimming Dragon is a wriggling rhythmic dance of the torso, which burns energy and promotes fat burning in the abdomen.

1. In a comfortable, quiet place stand with your feet together and ankles touching, or as close together as you can get them. Bring hands over your head, with palms together and fingers pointing up. Keep your palms together during this entire exercise.

2. Inhaling, push your waist out to the right side while keeping your head and upper torso straight. Simultaneously move your right elbow to the right, so that it rests at shoulder height.

3. Exhaling, push your waist out to the left side while keeping your head and upper torso straight. Simultaneously move your left elbow fully to the left at shoulder height.

4. Repeat this movement several times. Every time you move your waist to the right, bend your knees slightly more, lowering your entire body as you squat. Be sure to keep your upper torso and head straight.

5. With each right movement, move your hands lower, keeping your palms together and fingers pointing up. When your arms reach your chest, turn your fingers toward the ground and continue the movement.

6. When your arms reach your knees, you should be squatting.

7. Continue the movements, now rising with each right movement until you reach the standing position. When your arms reach your chest, switch the direction of your fingers so that they’re pointing up again.

Throughout this exercise, your hands should produce an S-shaped movement and your body should do a rhythmic belly dance. Remember to inhale on the rightward movement and exhale to the left. Only do this exercise on an empty stomach. Begin slowly and increase speed, warming up the whole body, but not to the point of perspiration.