Warm Up……………Cool Down

In response to requests over recent years, below are two short videos showing fundamental movement sequences I use for my own overall wellbeing maintenance and within classes, seminars and retreats I lead. The specific exercises are a mélange drawn from multiple disciplines, including Oriental martial arts, yoga, classical dance, modern Western physical training programs and exercise physiology. Over the years, I’ve tweaked and modified a number of these exercises, as well as adding some of my own inventions along the way.

In the Warm Up and Mobility sequence, the idea is to activate, oxygenate and loosen all parts of the body in about ten minutes. These can be performed prior to any demanding exercises or workouts, or on their own. There are over 40 exercises in total. I’ve experimented with the specific order for years and like this particular sequence, which begins and ends with variations of a full breath. For the breathing in general, I recommend no specific timing or control, but rather, consistent, voluptuous inhale and exhale from the diaphragm with no holding of the breath at any point. The speed of the movements is a balanced compromise that allows concentrated precision while still keeping a dynamic pace. After some practice, it should feel natural and fairly easy. For a more intensive version, set the video to half speed (without sound), and focus on deeper breathing with more powerful muscular flexion and extension throughout.

The Cool Down Flexibility sequence is best after exercise of any kind or a long walk, at the end of the day or after the above warm up sequence. It’s meant to be a fairly complete set of stretches and flexibility exercises in a short amount of time, with emphasis on the center of the body, hips and lower back. Again, the breathing should be diaphragmatic and flowing throughout, a little slower and more expansive than normal. As always with stretching, be attentive to your sensations, working within a range that’s comfortable while still challenging; nothing should really cause pain, and if it does, back off a little. Transitions into and out of each exercise should be slow and graceful. Setting the video at half speed gives more time to learn and delve into each stretch more, allowing for more complete conscious muscle relaxation and release.

For both the above sequences, it’s good to finish up with at least a few minutes of quiet breathing, intentionally letting go of thoughts. You’ll find you’re in a more openly receptive, balanced state in general. I recommend experimentation, especially in making minor modifications with exercises that feel too extreme or difficult. It’s a good idea, too, to explore the best times for performing either sequence, such as the Warm Up and Mobility before demanding activities (physical, emotional or otherwise) and the Cool Down Flexibility after stressful or tiring situations.

I hope these provide a simple, effective enhancement to your overall wellbeing program. Enjoy.

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