By Walter Last
Adequate physical activity is one of the main requirements for achieving and maintaining good health. Deep breathing while exercising is essential: lack of oxygen - becoming breathless - is harmful. 'Aerobic' exercises are those that can be maintained for long periods, because the heart and lungs can supply enough oxygen to the muscles; if insufficient oxygen reaches the muscles, the exercise becomes anaerobic, and can cause a build-up of lactic acid in the tissues - sometimes noticeable as sore muscles. Therefore, breathe more vigorously than required for the activity at hand, and increase the intensity of your exercises only gradually.
The arm muscles as well as the leg muscles should be used regularly. Cycling, walking and jogging should be supplemented by push-ups, digging, and so on. When jogging, touch down with the ball of the foot first to prevent damage to the joints. In this way you do not need expensive running shoes.
Everyday Physical Exercises
Depending on your body needs and inclinations, many exercises may be performed. The more important ones are stretching, hanging from the hands or feet, using a rebounder, circling the pelvis, head and shoulder stand, isometric exercises, scalp and face exercises (pulling faces, tensing and relaxing scalp muscles), shaking to loosen the body, and slow graceful and rhythmic movements with and without music. Yoga exercises are excellent for stretching and massaging the internal organs.
Do these frequently during the day. In addition, a time of the day or the week may be selected for a more thorough work-out. With advancing age stretching becomes increasingly more important. A recommended way of doing it is to lie on a large bed or carpeted floor and move your limbs and spine in various positions to the limits of their range and then stretch just a bit further. Try to let the body move on its own as it feels good without much mental direction.
The following exercises were made famous through the booklet 'The Eye of Revelation' by P. Kelder. They are effective for strengthening glandular activities, and are known to rejuvenate the body to a worthwhile extent - if practised faithfully every day. Deep breathing during and between exercises is important. Inhale and exhale during the slow movements between the two end-positions as shown in Fig. 1. Hold the breath in each end-position and tense all muscles with maximum effort. In one position press the chin to the chest and pull the abdomen inwards and up; in the other position drop the head back as far as possible.
The stomach is pulled in, with the breath exhaled, in the lying position (FIG. 1a), in the forward bending position (FIG. 1b), while sitting (FIG. 1c) and with the pelvis raised (FIG. 1d). Start with a few exercises daily and gradually increase to 20 of each. Do not strain yourself.
A fifth rejuvenation exercise is spinning or whirling 20 times with horizontally outstretched arms. In the northern hemisphere the instructions are to spin clockwise. I have the impression that in the southern hemisphere anticlockwise spinning is preferable (the top chakra appears to spin in opposite directions in both hemispheres). However, you may choose to spin in whatever direction makes you feel better or use muscle testing to see what is best for you.
Head and Neck Exercise
Slowly, but with force, bend the head three times in each direction, forward, backward and sideways. Then move the head in circles, again slowly and forcefully, three times in each direction. This is excellent for strengthening the neck and in all cases of head congestion, eye and ear problems, and recurring headaches. In addition, you may circle the head 100 times in each direction.
These are strengthening to the internal organs and invigorating. Slant-boards are commercially available. You may build one yourself by fastening a belt to one end of a body-length padded board. The feet are slipped underneath the belt to hold the body in position when the board is slanted, with the head about 30 cm lower than the feet. You may rest or meditate for a while on the board before and after doing some appropriate exercises, such as repeatedly lifting the torso to a sitting position, or tensing exercises. Do not use the slant-board if your blood pressure is very high.
Tense and release one muscle after another, starting with one foot, then the other, working up towards the top of the head. Inhale deeply, each time gradually increasing the tension, hold for a few seconds, then slowly release the tension while exhaling.
Finally, tense all muscles, starting with the feet and moving up to the neck. Simultaneously inhale deeply. Hold the whole body tightly tensed for several seconds; then gradually release the muscles, starting with the neck and moving down to the feet, exhaling simultaneously.
If a particular organ or limb is weak, focus repeated tension on it. Do this exercise repeatedly during the day. Tensing may be done in any position: sitting, standing, lying down. Frequent tensing is especially important if you have to stay in bed for a prolonged period.
Slowly move a stiff joint several times to the limit of its range. Then simply imagine the same movement but with an extended range, and repeat several times. Then move the actual limb again and see whether its range has improved. The actual movements are easier if performed during slow exhalation. Test in this way how far you can turn your head.
Rebounding may be better than jogging, especially for those low in energy. Some expensive models, called lymphasisers, are definitely much better and preferred if you can afford the price. Otherwise settle for a cheap rebounder or if you cannot afford even that, bounce on top of one or two innerspring mattresses.
While it is alright to bounce higher for a while if you feel like it and do various fancy bounces, during the basic lymphacising exercise you remain with both feet firmly on the mat. This is to greatly accelerate the flow of lymph fluid through the body. Bounce only very gently up and down, starting with just a few minutes and gradually increasing up to 10 or 15 minutes 3 or 4 times daily, best before meals and bedtime, the more the better.
Keep your hands touching body areas in need of healing, such as the tumour area and the liver or wherever you feel discomfort. With each upward bounce take a sniff until your lungs are filled after 10-20 sniffs and then exhale again in sniffs. Always try to fill and empty your lungs as completely as possible. If you do it right, you should feel energised after the exercise.
The principle of good use was developed by F.M. Alexander. It means using our body efficiently and with ease, maintaining maximum balance and coordination between all of its parts. Most of us use our body poorly most of the time. By learning good use we can harmonize our posture and movements and with this, improve our spine, muscular structure and even the functioning of our internal organs and glands. In order to learn good use, we concentrate mainly on the way we stand, sit, stand up, sit down, walk and breathe.
Start by exploring your present use in front of a mirror, how you move your head from side to side, up and down, how the shoulders move, how you talk and breathe. Then try to practice the basic movement of good use: move your head up and away from the torso, but at the same time let the whole body ease upwards in a move that flattens and lengthens the spine.
When turning the head or when moving it up or down, when standing, sitting, walking or lying down, always let the head float 'up' which means away from the body in line with the spine. It is not just a position to be maintained, but a continuous process of easing the head up to lengthen the spine.
When we look at eye level, the neck should be straight and the chin down. The main point to watch is that the back of the head is not dropped backward which will produce a hollow where the head joins the neck. Except when intentionally tilting the head, there should be no hollow at this point. Watch that your head remains up and the neck straight while you talk, sit down, stand up or move in any other way. Instead of directly moving the head upwards, think and feel it floating up. Let the move be manifested through the thought and feeling.
Standing and Sitting
Another important aspect to watch is that muscles are relaxed when at rest. When quietly standing, feel that the eyes, the jaw, shoulders and abdomen are relaxed, when sitting in addition the thigh and calf muscles. Check again and again because these muscles have a tendency to tense when we do not watch. The same when lying down, check all muscles for relaxation.
When sitting down or standing up, back and neck should remain in a straight line. Only the joints at the ankles, knees and hips will bend. When standing up, lean forward by following your head with the body. In this way you bend at the hips and this creates a momentum, which lifts you off the seat and brings you onto your feet without any effort. You only need to straighten the three lower joints and you stand in front of the chair.
Exactly the reverse procedure takes place when sitting down. The arms are not used in any way to push or swing when standing up or sitting down. When sitting, keep your head moving upwards in order to counteract the tendency to slump. Check yourself frequently that you sit straight but relaxed. When lifting something from the floor, keep the back and neck straight and bend only with the ankle, knee and hip joints.
When walking, touch down lightly with the full forward foot, not just with the heel. While the other foot is brought forward, the whole body weight rests now on the foot on the ground. Start rolling your weight off this foot by lifting the heel. In this way you rise onto the ball of the foot and even onto the toes. This creates a strong momentum that propels you forward without any effort.
Now you repeat the same process with the other foot. The important part of walking is rising onto the toes, which gives you a light, bouncing step, as if walking on air. Spine and neck remain in a straight line, shoulders relaxed. The arms swing gently, opposite arm and leg move together. When climbing steps, rise onto your toes in the same way as for walking.
As an exercise for those with a frozen pelvis and a hollow back, keep the pubis or lower abdomen in a forward position when walking or standing. Be mindful not to 'stick the tail out'. For everyday use wear only shoes with low heals and flexible soles, preferably leather or other natural material. Take every opportunity to walk barefoot, especially on grass. Negative or tensing energies can be released through the soles of the feet by walking on moist grass, as for instance in the early morning when it is still moist with dew. For more information see also books about the Alexander Technique and The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique at http://www.alexandertechnique.com.
Generally, we breathe just enough for the activity at hand. However, to prepare for action it is beneficial to supercharge our body with prana (bio-energy) by breathing more deeply than we actually need. This makes us more energetic, helps to cleanse the body and neutralises overacid conditions. Practise deep breathing in fresh air. Watch that during normal breathing your lower ribcage is moving. However, during sedentary activities it is preferable to breathe as slowly as possible, deeply but slowly. This helps to relax body and mind. Slow breathing also lets more carbon dioxide accumulate in the tissues which in turn induces the red blood cells through the Bohr effect to release more oxygen. This is used in Buteyko Breathing for asthma. Therefore, by deliberately over-breathing we create tension and by under-breathing we practise relaxation.
Watching the Breath
This is a relaxing exercise to quieten the mind, or as part of a meditation. Mentally follow the breath flowing in and out without any attempt to control it.
Inhale for several seconds, consciously filling first the lowest part of the lungs, causing the abdomen to lift. Then expand the middle part and finally the upper part of the chest. Hold the breath for several seconds then slowly release it, starting with the upper chest. End by contracting the abdomen. After about four seconds start a new cycle.
This is important for people with breathing problems. Place a hand on the abdomen and feel it rise and fall without moving the chest. Adopt abdominal breathing whenever an acute breathing problem develops.
This is good for people with obvious or hidden anxieties and to establish a proper orgasm reflex. While standing, exhale for about 10 seconds in one continuous sweep. Near the end, the shoulders should move forward, the buttocks press together and the pelvis move forward and upward in an involuntary movement.
A long, gentle exhalation also helps to relax body and mind and may be used to direct energies and relax specific muscles. Inhale quickly in about 1 or 2 second and then exhale slowly for about 10 seconds. During exhalation you may focus your attention on a specific part of the body and imagine the breath energy flowing into it, making it feel warm and expand. You may use this to reduce muscle tension and pain or relax the whole body by starting with the feet and gradually working your way upwards to the head.
This is to quickly saturate the body with oxygen and prana. Quickly and deeply - at the rate of about one or two cycles per second -inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Stop when you begin to feel dizzy. A slower, but more sustained form of super-breathing, through the nose only, may be adopted during energy healing, for telekinetic experiments or before and during heavy physical work or exercises.
Sit or lie relaxed with the hands folded as in prayer or over the abdomen, left palm on the navel, right hand on top. Inhale gently through the nose, hold, and exhale through the mouth, each period lasting for about five seconds. While inhaling touch the roof of the mouth with the tongue. Use abdominal breathing. Envisage with each breath that the prana fills the abdomen with energy; feel it warm and tingling. Hara is Japanese for the centre and storehouse of vital energy just below the navel.
This is helpful for balancing body polarities. Close the right nostril with a finger and inhale through the left nostril, then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, and exhale through the left one, and so on.
Eight - Two Breathing
This may be used for stilling the mind and emotions, or during meditation or spiritual healing. Inhale for a count of eight, hold for two, exhale for eight, hold for two, and so on. The flow of the breath should be smooth and harmonious.
Skin and Organ Breathing
For improving a particular part of your body, imagine and feel your breath moving through this part during inhalation as well as during exhalation. As an example, for improving the liver, feel the breath as in a cool stream penetrating through the skin above your liver. When holding the breath, feel a slight pressure in the liver area and an increasing warmth. This warmth still increases while you exhale through the skin above the liver. For arthritis, you may breathe through the affected joints, and for bone disorders, breathe through the bones.
Select a colour according to the rules of colour therapy. After relaxation, visualise yourself being surrounded by an ocean of air and energy of your chosen colour. See the inhaled coloured breath moving through the lungs or skin into the target organ or filling the whole body.
Supercharging yourself with vital energy may be done by super-breathing, by leaning with your back or front against a tall tree, or by one of the following methods. The main requirement for all these is to envisage vital energy entering your body. For healing a patient or a part of your body, direct the accumulated energy by radiating it out of the hands or hara, or by circulating it internally. Energy flow follows thought!
The energy resulting from these exercises can be tested by trying to lift a heavy object that was just a fraction too heavy before the exercise. Supercharge yourself several times daily, especially before healing sessions, stressful situations, acupressure, massage, heavy work, important decisions or interviews.
AOUM - Stand with arms over the head. Feel the 'A' sound vibrating in the upper chest, the 'O' in the stomach area, complete the exhalation with the 'U' in the lower abdomen. Feel the energy moving downwards to the base of the spine. Inhale with an 'M' sound, imagine it to move upwards along the spine to the top of the head.
RAKING EXERCISE - Reach up high with widespread fingers, circle the arms with bent knees past the ankles and up again, standing on tiptoes. During the circling visualise gathering life-force, which is then stored by bringing the hands to the abdomen after each circling. Breathe deeply during the exercise.
STAR EXERCISE - Extend your arms sideways with the left palm up and the right palm down, feet wide apart. Visualise energy streaming into the hands; feel how they become warm and tingling. Direct this energy to the hara, or place your charged hands over weak body areas and release the healing energy. In a weakened condition, exercise by spreading arms and legs while lying down.
Sounds have a strong influence on our being, and music can have a profound effect on our emotions. Mantras or special words or sounds, are used in certain techniques of meditation to achieve particular effects. Much stronger than outside sounds, however, is the impact of our own voice on our body. If properly pronounced, each vowel produces a vibration in a specific body part, mainly the large cavities as shown in the table below. If you cannot feel a resonance vibration, just imagine it.
The sounds should be produced as clearly as possible. Take a full breath and sing each vowel forcefully in different intonations. If your voice is low and deep, try to produce the sounds in the front of the mouth; if you have a high-pitched voice, make the vowels vibrate deeper down the throat.
Feel the resonance of each vowel in the indicated body cavity. The lower the body cavity in which you want to experience the sound, the deeper or lower you should try to make the sound. Initially use each vowel in turn, then concentrate on the ones most appropriate to your condition. Select and use vowels according to resonance areas. A high-pitched I sound may be used to stimulate the brain as well as the pineal and pituitary glands. Imagine the sound vibrating from the center of your brain.
If you make the sounds properly, you will feel the vibrations in your throat and mouth and possibly in your lips and cheeks as well. When you leave a tiny gap between your teeth, you should be able to feel them vibrating strongly. This effect is usually strongest with the m or om sound. Also try to vibrate your tongue with a rolling r sound. If correctly done, you can feel these vibrations energizing the whole structure of the head, bones as well as tissue.
Instead of sounding om, you may intonate a-u-m or a-o-u-m, in sequence with the same breath. Gradually lower the sound, and try to feel the vowels vibrating in the appropriate resonance areas. Feel the m sound moving up the spine with the pitch gradually rising higher, ending at the center of the brain.
Singing is an excellent vocal therapy - try it more often! Select stimulating, sedating or uplifting music according to your needs. Lie down in a relaxed position and become fully immersed in the sounds. Feel something inside you moving, expanding, rising in resonance with the music.
Vowel Resonance Areas
This table shows the correct intonation of vowels and the body cavities, which they stimulate if properly performed. Try to grade the vowels with the highest note for I and the lowest for U
Lower chest, upper abdomen