By James W. Chan, PhD
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with work during the busy tax season. Many diligent fitness devotees just can’t find the time for energy-consuming workouts at the gym during this time. If you work from home and sit all day, you are likely familiar with leg cramps or other aches. These ailments are not uncommon. This is the time to call in the bear. The Constant Bear exercise, that is.
This simple, ancient Chinese health exercise adapts the energetic, habitual movements of five animals (tiger, deer, bird, monkey, and bear) to help humans ward off ailments. This exercise requires no equipment, tools, props, or space. You can practice it anywhere, anytime.
This is how you do the Constant Bear:
- Keep your head upright. Don’t look down. Your eyes should look straight like an owl. Relax your whole body and empty your mind. Keep your arms down and relaxed at shoulder width. Don’t move your arms and bend your knees very slightly so that your legs are not locked.
- You should be standing completely straight. This is key. Your head, neck, spine, lumbar, and coccyx should be aligned vertically. Slowly shift your weight laterally from one leg to the other. As you shift, put the weight of your entire body on one leg while keeping the other leg “unweighted” and light as a feather, even though it is still touching the ground. Use the weighted leg as an axis and turn your hips to the other side. For example, when the weight of your body is on the left leg, turn your hips to the right. (See my video demonstration.) After you shift your weight, turn your hips the other way. This weight shifting and hip turning is the essence of the Constant Bear exercise.
- Before you turn your hips, “sink” your body (the leg that is “heavy”) downward a little as if you were trying to penetrate vertically into the ground. When you turn your hips, make sure that you are not twisting. Don’t twist your knees. Your knees should stay in the same place when you shift or turn. There is no twisting in Constant Bear. If your knees or any parts of your body hurt, stop.
- Focus your body’s weight on the center of the bottom of your foot. Don’t put your weight entirely on the ball of your foot. In Chinese acupuncture, this central part of your foot is the location of the point called yong quan (YONG CHUAN, translates as “bubbling well” or “bubbling spring”). The middle of your foot is the center of distribution of the weight of your body. If you put all your weight on the ball of your foot, it will tire you quickly and it may hurt.
- Breathe naturally through the nose. Your breath should be quiet, slow, fine, and deep (long).
- Repeat this Constant Bear motion (shifting weight and then turning hips) for 5 minutes or 60 swings (one shift from left to right or right to left counts as one swing) in the beginning. Increase the frequency or length gradually to 200 swings or 15 minutes. Do Constant Bear twice a day for 100 consecutive days and you’ll see its benefits.
Constant Bear will give you stronger legs, better balance, and increase your ability to relax if you practice it consistently and conscientiously. Constant Bear incorporates basic principles of Tai Chi as an exercise in health and well-being.
James W. Chan, PhD, is author of Spare Room Tycoon: Succeeding Independently, the 70 Lessons of Sane Self-Employment. The book documents the real-life stories of 40 men and women who started a solo practice. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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