I was speaking with a close friend the other day after Jiu Jitsu class–he was asking me for advice on how to improve his overall athleticism and health.
This isn’t always an easy question, so I asked him a few of my own to clarify the situation and come up with a more useful response.
“How many hours per week are you working, is it stressful?”
“How many days per week are you doing BJJ?”
I know that my friend has 3 kids, one of whom just went off to college. I also know that he is great at the skill of jiu jitsu. He’s a black belt in BJJ, but a white belt in 5 minute flow…
His biggest weakness is that he spends all of his weekly training time in states of stress–compounded by a relatively stressful work and home life. Not surprisingly, his first inclination was to add in some weightlifting as a supplement–but this was not the best solution. In fact, it probably would have compounded his existing problems, and moved him further away from his goals.
The best answer, in his case, was that he needed to balance all of his yang with some #5minuteflow (yin) work.
Yin and Yang
Wikipedia has a nice rundown of what Yin and Yang means.
Here’s a brief and pertinent part to consider:
“Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitusymbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.”
The important thing to understand is that a balance is necessary. Active/Passive, Light/Dark, Heavy/Light.
The more people I help find the optimal fitness and health solution, the more I realize that people are living in a state of constant stress and action (yang).
The balance, for so many of us, is completely out of whack. Phone’s ringing, dinging, and buzzing non-stop. TV and internet hurling images and videos at us faster than we can take them in. Combine that with the current workout trend to almost kill you during every session, with no consideration for sustainability, strength, or even progress.
Beatdown from media stress, beatdown from life stress, and often a beatdown from workout stress.
NO ONE can handle that forever. There are strong-willed individuals out there who can make it work for a while, but everyone will eventually crack in a state of constant stress. Even as the situation seems almost hopeless, as we trudge forward into technological dependence and even more accessible entertainment, there is hope.
The answer is 3 distinct, but synergistic components.
It seems simple but these 3 things can change anyone’s life for the better. I have seen it happen time and time again. There are a couple strategies as far as implementing these 3 pieces of the puzzle.
5 minutes of movement with a focus on breathing + 5 minutes of meditation with a focus on breathing
5 minutes of movements, with a focus on breathing while attempting to enter a “flow state.”
(In other words, you make movement your form of meditation. You give your brain a chance to focus on movement, and let everything else slide out of your awareness.)
As has been the case for many people, this was also the optimal solution for my friend.
The key point I have to drive home is that this is just one half of the whole. The other side is necessary as well. Hard, fast, active, stress. This balance is what makes us truly alive.
Think for a second, does your life balance make sense?
How about your training balance?
Do you have an equal ratio of strength and flexibility exercises?
Are you already flexible enough?
How important is your continued orthopedic health?
Really take a minute, write it all down, and see what falls into the yin and yang categories. The results of this little exercise may just hold the key to finding your optimal strength and health.
Better every day,
p.s. 5 Minute Flow is now available! Grab a copy for you or a loved one now at 5minuteflow.com