Monday, July 29, 2013

Movement is Joy

I wasn't a very physical child. I was clumsy, slow, uncoordinated, and I disliked all team activities. My memory of gym classes are filled with frustrations, physical and emotional. I equate sports with rage and fear. I associate fitness with tedium and misery. In addition, my Taiwanese childhood was academically competitive and physical education was simply considered secondary. As a result, I grew up cerebral, detached from my own physical existence.
I was a stranger in my own body. I looked down on it as a collection of base instincts with nothing to offer. I resented my dependence on having a body. I struggled to rule over my body like a master driving her stubborn mule, and found it incompetent.
Obviously, this was not a good way to be, nor was it healthy or natural. It took me awhile to become ONE person. I am my body. My body is me. There is no struggle. There is nothing to struggle with.
It all started with the joy of movement.  
Impressed by Broadway musical, I took tap dancing lessons. Moved by the winter Olympic, I enrolled in ski camp. As I tapped across the dance floor and glided down the snowy slopes, I thought:!
There is an innate pleasure in movements. Try this in the morning: wiggle your toes when you wake up in bed. Strangely, even the simplest movement tugged on something deep inside. It’s good to have toes. It’s good to move. It’s good to be alive.
Then I tried other things: tango, rock climbing, contact improv, taijiquan, systema. With each activity I learned, my competency grew, so did my confidence. But it wasn't just the better use of the body that kept me going. It wasn’t just the fun either. It was something deeper and simpler. It was to experience the world through my body. Some of you might say: umm, isn’t that called “living”?  
Let me explain what I mean. Different activities make me interact differently with my environment, with other people, with myself. My perception changes. My senses open. The line between body and mind ceases to be. Through movements I come to experience the world anew. Such is the joy of movement. And as such I would like to continue to move, to climb, to dance, to swim, to run, to live.
Maybe for me it is not about “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, or even “Be the best you can be.” Maybe it’s simply that “Movement is Joy”.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Movement is Life

Movement is Life is the name of an event we will be participating in at the Buffalo Museum of Science on August 3rd.  The idea that "Movement is Life" actually resonates quite well with what we do at Peaceful Water Health and Fitness.  We offer clinical services of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, and instruction in martial arts.  In Chinese medicine, many disorders of the body are due to a disruption of the normal substances in the body.  These basic substances of the body are the breath, the blood, the body fluids, the essence, and the spirit.  

Breathing and moving are two of the most essential activities we do.  Without them, nothing would function correctly, yet they are two things most people take completely for granted.  My experience of teaching people about breathing is that most people laugh when first presented with the prospect that breathing is something they have forgotten how to do correctly.  It is also surprising to people when you point out to them that they are often holding their breath.  This is a problem because breathing IS movement, and without it, smooth coordinated movement becomes harder.

I say breathing is movement because when we breath, it causes internal movement.  I don't mean internal movement in a metaphorical sense.  The whole body expands and contracts because of displacement caused by the lungs filling and emptying.  Without this, the blood inside the body would not be able to properly circulate.  The expanding and contracting causes a tug and release on the fascia  of the body as well.  When our psyche is in a calm state, and our body is relaxed we can feel this directly.  Any tension or fear in the psyche or in the body blocks our ability to feel this type of subtle movement.  We can learn to control this tension through our breathing, and we can learn to control our breathing by coordinating our physical movements with the breath.

In daily life, we constantly are exposed to things that create certain amounts of fear or tension.  It is important that we clean these things from ourselves regularly so that they are not given a chance to accumulate.  From the perspective of Chinese medicine, when emotional or physical stresses enter our body, they disrupt the normal circulation.  This disrupted circulation leads to accumulations, and these accumulations further block the circulation.  It creates a viscous cycle.  

By engaging in a healthy balance of rest and intelligent movement, we can help to clear these accumulations and clean out the stresses that are interrupting the normal physiological activity of the body.  When we coordinate this type of movement with breathing, it ultimately has a restorative and healing effect on the body and mind.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This is the first post for peaceful water health and fitness.  We are a health and wellness center in Western New York specializing in Chinese medicine.  Our services include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and instruction in the martial art of Taijiquan.

You can visit us on the web at

We hope to use this blog to inform the public about Chinese herbal medicine and Acupuncture therapies, as well as the benefits of studying martial arts such as Taijiquan.