Wednesday, August 22, 2018

My Trinity of Good Health

One of the main reasons why I eat plant-based whole foods is because I want to eat healthy and feel good. Therefore, it is only natural that I am also seeking out other ways to feel healthy. As I feel fitter and healthier, I have found what I call my "Trinity of Good Health." This trio works well for me. Your mileage may vary.

Doing Tai Chi

In 2004, I started doing Tai Chi with the Taoist Tai Chi Society, Columbus (Ohio) Branch. I did Tai Chi with TTCS until 2009 when life sort of got in the way. In 2016, I started the year by going back to the TTCS and starting to do Tai Chi with the Palo Alto location. Since then, I have been going regularly and recently became a beginning instructor. In addition, I am now the Palo Alto location leader.

The reason why I do Tai Chi is that it has helped me tremendously to loosen my back, strengthen my legs, improve my balance, and most importantly, help me to relieve stress. When you do Tai Chi, you are focused on the movements and your body positions. You have to concentrate, so Tai Chi becomes a moving meditation. And there is a lot of stretching and strengthening, especially in the back. After a Tai Chi class, I feel completely relaxed and in what I call a "blissed out" state. That is what keeps me coming back for more.

Doing Yoga

I have been doing yoga on and off since I was in college. My first experience with yoga came in a class on Indian religion and culture. As part of the class, in the last 10 minutes, we were invited to learn some yoga practices like pranayamas (breathing techniques) and yoga asanas (postures). I remember using an old blanket since I did not have a yoga mat and really enjoying doing yoga.

In Columbus in the early 2000s, I started doing yoga regularly, as in taking classes. Yoga teacher extraordinaire Kit Spahr introduced me to Yin Yoga and it was love at first asana. Yin Yoga involves stretching the tendons and ligaments (yin in Chinese medicine) as opposed to stretching the muscles (yang in Chinese medicine), You passively let gravity do the stretching and you just relax into it. You are stressing the tissues and it takes patience and practice to learn to relax into certain poses. At the end of class, you feel all melty and relaxed. In Columbus, I mainly did Yin and Restorative yoga, with an occasional Hatha Yoga class thrown in.

Again, at the end of 2009, life got in the way, and I put my yoga practice on hold. I occasionally did yoga at home, but did not take any classes or do a sustained practice. My yoga mat mostly collected dust. So after restarting my Tai Chi practice in 2016, I decided to kick off 2017 by restarting my yoga practice. I especially like Yin and Restorative yoga, but I have also been exploring more active yoga classes to pair with the Yin and Restorative. I have tried Iyengar Yoga, but I am not really sold on it. For now, I am adding Hatha and Vinyasa classes to my yoga practice. I really enjoy taking yoga at Prajna Center in Belmont, CA. IT has the most wonderful energy and atmosphere.

Eating Plant-Based

Obviously the third part is eating a healthy vegan diet. I cannot speak for every person, but I know for myself that when I eat plant-based whole foods, I feel better. My body is lighter and healthier. My skin and sinuses are better. I sleep better.

This may sound strange, but I really feel that the cells of my body are happier when I eat a plant-based diet. It is as if the actual cells of my body are saying, "Yes! This is what we want!" After I eat a healthy vegan meal full of veggies, I feel the same happy, blissed out feeling that I feel after a Tai Chi or Yin Yoga class. That is what motivates me to continue eating healthy plant-based meals.

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