" . . . the most advanced achievement in body exercise and
mind conditioning ever to be developed."
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends that elementary children accumulate 30-60 minutes of age and developmentally-appropriate physical activity from a variety of activities every day and should not have extended periods of inactivity.
As a parent; avid practitioner of many forms of exercise (jogging, walking, swimming, bicycling, weightlifting, and more); and Master Teacher of many forms of yoga, t'ai chi and qigong, it's my personal and professional opinion that part of every child's exercise program include the most ancient and practiced forms of physical, mental and energetic exercises in the world-yoga, t'ai chi and qigong.
According to one Chinese Master, they are " . . . the most advanced achievement in body exercise and mind conditioning ever to be developed."
And, the very first qigong routine ever developed was frolicking like or imitating animals.
Regardless of your condition, age, shape, or size, physical and mental well being are all about moving chi or energy.
And that's what moving, twisting, turning, and freezing like a t'ai chi or yoga animal does--STIMULATE, MOVE, and BUILD UP our ENERGY!
Even children experiencing physical and/or mental challenges will benefit from pretending to be a powerful animal by simply performing to their own level of flexibility, capability and enjoyment.
Many visualization studies show remarkable results can even be realized by children who simply imagine and feel like they are moving like an animal while remaining perfectly still and quiet.
A third grade t'ai chi student said, "Last week you taught me how to feel a ball of energy, so every night I make a warm red ball of energy and I take it to sleep with me. I sleep much better now."
Pretending to be powerful, graceful animals provides all the benefits of a rigorous workout but, because it is not strenuous, it has no potentially harmful side effects.
Yoga, t'ai chi and qigong's health benefits have been studied for nearly 2,000 years in China and India.
In the past 20 years, western medical research has quickly discovered what Chinese medicine has long realized, that yoga, t'ai chi and qigong provide more benefits than any other single exercise.
That's why they are fast becoming part of America's push towards self help and healing as evidenced by classes offered at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals, the Mindfulness Program at Stanford University's Complementary Medicine Clinic, and Jon Kabat-Zinn's Meditation/Yoga Classes at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.
Dr. Kenneth M. Sancier, Ph.D. said, "The main conclusion from many studies is that Qigong enables the body to heal itself."
Pretending to be an eagle, bear, tiger, dragon, gorilla, deer and monkey will rotate your children's bodies about 95 percent of the ways they can be rotated. The next closest western exercise to this is swimming, which only rotates about 65 percent of the body's potential movement.
Other forms of exercise like jogging, for example, improve circulation but do not directly benefit all our internal organs like animal frolicking.
Imitating animals will assist in the natural development of your child's body. That may be sleek and graceful like a deer, trim and strong like a tiger, quick and agile like a monkey, or bulky and powerful like a gorilla. But it won't be overweight and out of shape.
While having fun pretending to be these chi animals, your children are naturally and easily developing their bodies and minds.
A third grade teacher in America said, "I feel the deep breathing, flexibility, balance and coordination they experienced while doing Tai Chi increased their physical and mental well-being, and enhanced their learning! They came back to class positive, confident and focused."
Playing along with these special Chi animals improves circulation, which strengthens the immune system. With a stronger immune system, your child may experience less sick days and the sick days they do experience will seem less traumatic. They will have more time to play and do the things they love to do as their physical and emotional well being become stronger and stronger.
Yon Lee, a t'ai chi instructor at Harvard University, did a study in the 1980s and found that 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders doing tai chi for 30 minutes once a week lowered their blood pressure by an average of about 10%.
Afterward, he said, "I feel that you can never be too young to learn or do t'ai chi. You don't have to understand the philosophy of t'ai chi to do t'ai chi. Children simply enjoy t'ai chi by doing."
Playing like animals integrates the mind and body, skeletal and muscular systems, and left and right brain, resulting in improvements in overall athletic ability and the power to control the body's functions and capabilities.
Children's minds and bodies grow at phenomenal rates, so they are constantly having to work with new and different bodies, making coordination and balance a big issue. Research has shown that animal frolicking strengthens equilibrium, so your child can experience a lifelong gift of balance and coordination.
Frolicking is also one of the best relievers of arthritis, which affects many children as well as adults.
In addition, a regular practice of animal frolicking can:
- physiologically ease back pain
- improve posture and bone density
- limber up joints
- enhance muscle tone
- potentially help with MS
- help with ADD and ADHD
- increase breathing capacity
- calm the central nervous system
- help ensure a full range of mobility
- reduce the amount of stress hormones as well as asthma and allergy reactions.
Frolicking like graceful, powerful, and magnificent animals is a safe, fun, and effective way for children to maintain excellent physical and mental health that they will carry into adulthood and help them succeed in all they do!
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Originally shared at my EZine Articles.