Have you ever tried running stairs? I have a short fitness routine I do before I go to work that consists of running up and down the stairs in Central, near where I live. It’s an excellent booster for your cardiovascular system and really sets the pace for the day. Since my personal yoga practice mostly involves balance and strength-related postures rather than fast moving sets of asanas, my little stair ritual helps me to train my condition without spending too much time on it. Just 10 minutes is absolutely enough for me. Start now while it is cooler and you’ll get used to your new routine before the hot weather is back! I like to combine the cardiovascular exercise with 15 minutes of yoga and energy work.
First, I get ready with a coffee with turmeric and soy milk. The curcuminoids in turmeric reduce C reactive protein, which indicates inflammation in the body. Turmeric contains over 20 anti-inflammatory compounds and is an excellent antioxidant. It can be used in soups, tea, coffee and juices. I also use it for all kinds of other dishes as it doesn’t have a strong taste.
Since I don’t take a yoga mat with me, after the 10 minute stair run, I continue with a few yogic standing postures, usually the Triangle and Parsvakonasana, Parsvottanasana and Tree Pose. At the end of the Tree Pose, I keep standing on one leg and move the other one forwards and backwards, then bend my knee and let it rotate a few times outward and inwards to open my hips. Rotate your ankles before you put your leg down. With all the focus on mastering difficult poses, yoga practitioners often forget that the smallest movements, like letting our wrists and ankles circle or doing easy balancing exercises, can do so much for our general well being.
Don’t wait until you reach an age where the synovial fluid in your joints decrease, keep them lubricated now through steady exercise. Have you seen one of those old ladies in their 90s, teaching yoga classes on the internet? It’s the steadiness of your practice with gentle movement that will help you maintain a healthy flexible body. You don’t have to be a fitness queen to stay healthy. Take it easy and be gentle with yourself, but be firm in keeping up a regular practice.
I finish my fitness routine with a few energetic exercises inspired by a Qi Gong course I took a long time ago. Simply stand firm with your legs apart and pretend you hold a ball of energy between your hands: move it from one side to the other and smudge it out with the inner hand every time you reach the other side. Do this very slowly and try to feel the energy you are moving. After two minutes, go back to the centre and pretend you are scooping energy from below with the palms of your hands, then slowly bring your palms to an area of your body where you feel you need healing, like the heart or your belly. Then, tap your body with your hands to strengthen your bones and get rid of stagnant energy. Start with the outside of your arms tapping upwards to your shoulder, then tapping down the inside of your arm, and repeat on the other side. Then tap the sides of your body, starting below your armpits until you reach your ankles. Tap all the way back up on the inside of your legs. Next, place your hands on your kidneys and rub the area to activate your life force.
Last but not least, imagine you are pulling up Qi from your heels along the back of your body, all the way up over your head and then down the front of your body. Let the old energy be absorbed and run down into the ground. Repeat this three times, then shake your arms and legs. On your way back home get a fresh beetroot and green apple juice with ginger to make your liver happy and support your immune system.
Have a good day!