Back in 1999, a few months after giving birth to baby #2, I used to do Tae Bo from a videotape in my family room. I loved all of the kicking and air punching and the overall fun I had when working out with Billy Blanks instructing me on my TV.
Fast forward to 2007 ish when I would go to my kids’ Kung Fu studio and watch them do similar movements — but under the watchful eyes of the black belts who were training them. In an adjacent room at the Kung Fu studio, a cardio kickboxing class was offered to the parents during the same time the kids were training. Of course I jumped in – punching actual bags and yelling guttural sounds while getting out my aggression? Heck yeah.
While I loved the kickboxing element, the allure of the goings-on from the other room kept pulling my attention there. Eventually I joined in and began my training in Kung Fu. You can catch more of that story in my interview with Master April Hawley, my Kung Fu teacher. Click here to check it out.
What I really liked about these types of workouts – and subsequent training – was that I found a way to tap into my primal self, my masculine, my warrior. I could throw roundhouse kicks and elbows, dodge a punch, and do a chokehold. And I thoroughly loved it all. I felt like — and *was* — a badass.
As I was training in martial arts, I was also taking my first training to become a yoga teacher. In retrospect, it was the perfect timing to do both together. While I was a fierce warrior in the Kung Fu studio, on my yoga mat I was graceful, calm, and relaxed – even while doing fancy party-trick poses that I’d never in a million years thought my body could get into.
Training in martial arts took me places physically, mentally, and emotionally that I didn’t know were possible, and I’d highly recommend giving it a try. If you’re interested in training with the same Kung Fu master that I did, click here for more info.
Did you know there are other modalities that are technically martial arts but can be more accessible to folks? If you thought of Tai Chi and Qigong, you thought right.
Originally from China, Tai Chi is an ancient movement practice that originated as a form of self-defense. It’s now mainly taught as a form of stress relief and gentle stretching. A type of moving meditation, Tai Chi offers a series of linked movements that help to lower blood pressure, improve joint pain and mobility, increase flexibility and strength, as well as enhance the immune system. Like so many modalities, it’s important to study under a trained professional so you can keep your body safe and happy.
Qigong also originated from China thousands of years ago. It’s based on the same principle as Traditional Chinese Medicine and includes physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions while practicing. While that sounds similar to a yoga asana practice, it’s very different. Qigong’s list of incredible benefits includes reducing depression, lessening chronic fatigue, and even improving the well-being of folks who are undergoing cancer treatments. As with Tai Chi, Qigong should be practiced under the guidance of a qualified mentor, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
I’m on the lookout for Tai Chi and Qigong teachers to join our platform, so if you know of any, please let me know! I would love to bring the magic of these ancient practices to the Taday Wellness offerings.