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Working-out Vs Working-in

Hi, Im Chris and I’m glad that you are here spending a bit of your time with me. So I won’t get long winded. But, I do want to give you a heads up on what you can expect over the next several posts (not counting this one - 4 more) I will be moving through the 6 foundational principals that I use in my own life as well as with those I coach.

Last week we talked a bit about Hydration and how quality matters. Today’s post is going to cover Movement, more specifically we will contrast the more Yang (masculine) working-out methods against the more Yin (feminine) working-in practices but more on that to come. The remaining principals, that will be covered in the next weeks, are Thinking, Breathing, Nutrition and Sleep.

Now on to the topic at hand, see we got into it fairly quickly, Movement and the complimentary opposed forces that form it. To understand complimentary opposites we can easily bring to mind Yin and Yang, the masculine and feminine. In all areas of our life these two forces are at play, and health and vitality can be found only when we find balance between these forces within our life.

As I’m sure that you have already concluded, and rightly so, that we will now be looking at Working-out and Working-in exercises. I will begin with Working-out because that is what comes to mind first when we think about movement or exercise. Working-out exercise can easily be defined as anything that expends more energy in a given unit of time as compared to the amount of energy that it brings into the body in that same unit of time.

So think lifting weights, a 400 meter sprint, wrestling, hiking, manual labor and dare I even say a mother of young children. Anything that after completion you are more fatigued than when you began, that is a Work-out movement.

This is a Yang or masculine expression of movement - expanding, dividing, acting, doing. But is not the only expression. There are feminine expressions of movement that do the opposite of their masculine counterparts. They bring energy into the body and leave us feeling more enlivened after doing them. Many of these movement practices have been used for thousands of years and are recognized as bringing in Chi, Prana, or Life Force Energy into those who participate. They help to still the mind and bring presence and awareness to the individual.

Growth is a fundamental part of life, and life is movement. Working-out movements stress and stimulate the individual to grow but it is the rest, recovery and Working-in movements that allows the body to adapt and get stronger.

As with anything when we begin to view ideas through the lens of masculine or feminine, it is easy to see the need for both, and it is just as easy to see the pitfalls of becoming too biased to one side. However when it comes to living our own life - how often do we take the time to look at and examine ourselves? Usually only after the pain teacher comes to give us a lesson or two do we begin. But even then how short our memories are, and before you know it we’re back doing the same things and not paying attention. This is a tangent that I will have to go down another time but trust me I have a lot of personal experience with this, as you might as well.

You might be wondering my thoughts on how to apply this and what does having a balanced movement practice look and feel like? You might also be wondering what Working-in exercises look like. Lucky for you that is exactly what I was going to talk about next but in the reverse order.

So most of us are familiar with what Work-out exercises look like, if not go to any magazine rack and you will find everything from body-building to triathlon and everything in between. So I’m not going to spend time explaining that.

Work-in exercises are a combination of controlled movement and breathing. By this combination we are enlivening our Life Force Energies and aligning our Biological Oscillators. We have three main biological oscillators, each producing their own electromagnetic current, they are the brain, the heart, and the gut. By the practice of rhythmic and controlled breath and movement, we can align these electromagnetic frequencies producing more harmony and vitality in the body.

Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Yoga are all examples of Work-in exercises. There are also Zone Exercises that I use with clients that are specific to individual Chakras. These exercise do not need to be formal, and you can do what feels right for you in that moment. All you need to do is connect to your breath, and listen to your body. Work-in exercises should never dry out your mouth, elevate your heart rate, and you should be able to perform on a full stomach without discomfort.

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to exercise and push myself, and the longer that I do this the more apparent it becomes that the workout isn’t over until the next morning when you get out of bed. Pushing the Work-outs and neglecting the other side of the equation is not only counterproductive, but I have also found through personal experience that it is a lot more painful.

Building in recovery days to your training week and optimizing sleep and nutrition are non-negotiable when it comes getting the most out of your training. But, how do we utilize these Work-in movements or exercises?

For starters, I love how easily they can be done and the that they can be done anywhere. Qi Gong and Tai Chi are great additions to morning or nightly routines. You don’t need to drive anywhere, roll out of bed, start the water for tea or coffee, be still for several breaths, and begin your practice. You would be surprised what 10 minutes will do for not only your morning but for your whole day. And when you're done, your coffee is ready and you're ready to begin your day from a calm and centered space. Participating in a routine yoga practice in a group or on your own is another excellent way to incorporate these movements into our lives and build community if done in groups (obviously). These stretches and movements can then be taken out of the classroom by using them as a 15-20 minute cool down stretch/time for your post Work-out its perfect. This type of cool down post workout is ideal because it facilitates the process of down regulating from our sympathetic state during exercise to the parasympathetic state we want to be in the rest of our day.

Finding balance when it comes to our movement practice is a process that hopefully has no end in sight, and being in tune with your body enough to give yourself what you need from both ends of the movement spectrum is what keeps it interesting and enables us to grow and participate in life more fully.

Now you know, and knowing or bringing awareness to something is the first step in the process of growth. And ….’knowing is half the battle’ - thank you G.I. Joe.

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