Stress is part of our daily lives. Truthfully, we don’t get to decide whether or not stress will enter our lives - but we do have a choice in how we react to it. Learning and practicing stress management techniques can help you create a happier and more fulfilling life. Next time you’re feeling down, consider the following facts and tips.
Stress management is more than just taking a vacation or practicing some occasional breathing and meditation techniques. Maintaining a healthy diet and participating in traditional exercise can also help you better manage your stress. If you’re looking to take your stress management to a higher level, try balancing your energy and developing more compassion for yourself. Not sure how to start? Body & Brain teaches about an energy principle known as Water Up, Fire Down circulation. Let’s take a look at what it is and then learn two valuable exercises to get your energy flowing for more effective stress management.
In eastern energy practices, it is often said that cool water energy and hot fire energy flow within our bodies. When our bodies are balanced and strong, cool water energy travels upward towards the head while hot fire energy flows down to the lower abdomen, where it is accumulated. This is the essence of Water Up, Fire Down energy circulation.
It is said that the kidneys are the source of water energy and the heart is the source of fire energy, and as long as the body has enough power, these energies will naturally circulate. What does it mean ‘the body has enough power”? Basically, this is related to the strength and vitality of the second chakra, or lower abdominal area. When the lower abdominal area is strong and healthy, energy flow tends to be smooth and balanced, and heat naturally descends (think - a fire in the belly). This heat then warms the kidneys and sends the water-energy up towards the brain. This water energy cools the brain (think cool-headed) and naturally helps to bring fire energy down to the core once again.
In Eastern traditional wisdom, the large intestines are energetically associated with the lungs and the small intestines with the heart. The heart and lungs circulate energy; the intestines store it. If the intestines are blocked, stiff, and heavy, the storage space is clogged, making circulation difficult and often leading to physical discomfort. By practicing some simple exercises for the intestines you can maintain Water Up, Fire Down energy circulation and have calmer and more abundant energy.
Here’s how you can start practicing intestine exercise. It’s one of the standard techniques that new members at Body & Brain centers should learn.
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and gently arch your lower back, sticking out your butt (duck-butt).
2. Open your chest widely, relax your shoulders, and drop your chin just an inch.
3. Place your thumbs on your navel and your fingertips below them on your “kihae” point (about 2.5 inches below your navel).
4. Focus on moving and feeling your lower abdominal muscles as you gently pull them in and push them out.
5. The ideal speed is pretty quick (doing 2-3 full in-and-out movements per second), with a smooth and strong rhythm.
Toe-tapping can help release tension and improve circulation to the lower extremities and also strengthens Water Up, Fire Down energy circulation. It can also be a great way to relax before bed for deeper and more restful sleep.
1. Lie down or sit on the floor with your legs extended comfortably (if extending the knees fully is difficult, you can practice with a pillow under the knees.)
2. Place your hands on your abdomen and begin to shake your legs in and out, letting your toes move in and out like windshield wipers. You can tap the big toes together and the pinky toes on the floor. If this is uncomfortable for you, try moving your feet farther apart and continue shaking without letting the toes tap together.
3. Repeat this for up to 15 minutes or until you feel relaxed.