How to Be Flexible to Stay Strong

Movement. Energy. Health. Vitality. It’s all tied together. At Being Energy, we think it’s important to take the whole into consideration. But to understand the whole, you must look at the parts, and vice versa.

Movement is a key part of what we teach in our classes and workshops because movement, in one way or another, is a fundamental part of life, and a key for staying healthy and happy.

We want to cultivate flexible movement. To be flexible is also to be strong. So we offer the practices we do ourselves every day in Being Energy’s live online daily Mind + Body + Spirit classes.  We also just launched a new Video Library, with a collection of daily 30-minute classes, many of which focus on movement.

In a presentation during one of Being Energy’s Nutrition + Health classes this year, our colleague Jordan Hoffman shared some philosophy and simple exercises of Aikido. Jordan is a longtime Aikido practitioner, and 2nd Degree black belt, in addition to being an outstanding acupuncturist. He shared some valuable insights.

Aerin and YelenaBecause the class theme was bones, tendons and muscles, Jordan spoke about keeping the tendons and ligaments nice and open, and how this enables energy to flow throughout the body.  In every healthy joint there is space. That space allows for comfortable, easy movement. When we’re stressed, tight or tense, we tend to contract, reducing that space, which results in more tightness and tension. This also slows us down, and creates an environment ripe for injury. But if we’re supple, we can move faster with more fluidly and grace. When presented with an obstacle, the more supple we are, the better we can navigate in the situation.

Think about the branch of a young tree. You can bend it and it won’t break; it remains flexible; but an old branch can snap. Just so, we want to keep our bones and joints supple. We want to be able to move easily with the winds of change and challenge.

An inspiring example of flexibility and grace at any age is Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba (December 14, 1883 – April 26, 1969). In this video from 1935, these qualities, and more, are made clear.

Here, you can see his last public demonstration, in 1969, at the age of 85 (it’s a little fuzzy, but nonetheless worth watching).

So how can we embody this? What can we do to meet the challenges of life with power and grace? We can start with awareness.

At the end of every day, you might notice that you feel shorter, tighter, contracted, more compressed. Cultivating awareness is an important step in remaining strong yet flexible. Hold the image in your mind of spaciousness in your joints. Think of elongating your spine. If you’re standing and notice that your knees are locked, soften them, letting the energy flow through the joint and through your body.

To your health, strength and suppleness,
Dr. Miles Reid

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