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EXCERCISES TO (RE) CONNECT
Taking long walks outdoors, letting oneself go with the soft rocking of a swing, breathing and feeling the energy expand through the inside of the body. There are exercises that connect you with the environment and re-connect you with your own nature, disciplines that help you strengthen your body and mind in order to achieve a perfect equilibrium and an effective barrier against stress.
Golf, as we know it today, has only been around for six centuries and dates back to Scotland at the beginning of the XV Century where the first course was built and the first clubs emerged. The first known document in which this sport was regulated is signed in the town of St. Andrews in 1552. From then, golf has gained followers – some claim it’s addictive – and it has become universally popular for being a complete and thoroughly relaxing sport. In Spain, the first golf course was built in Las Palmas (Grand Canary) in the year 1891. As explained by YagoMoreiras, professor at the Escuela Alicante Golf, “golf was considered an elitist sport, only accessible to older people with high purchasing power, but it has renovated itself and is no longer that way, the prices for paying on and accessing the courses are becoming more and more affordable for all types of families. My students are of all ages and genders: from children who still arrive with a pacifier (3/4 years), to more veteran ages, there is no age limit, as long as the body, the mind and the will remain. The type of student doesn’t follow a pattern, this is a family sport in which grandparents can play with their grandchildren while enjoying an amazing day.” What characterizes golf is, among other things, the setting in which it is practiced, the course, a wide open space of natural grass, generally 9 or 18 holes. “Golf courses are very large extensions of land, with holes from 100 meters up to over 500 meters (7/8 km in total), so just walking the holes and carrying out the movements to hit the ball, require a highly recommended cardiovascular effort”, says Yago. A physical activity that also exercises the respiratory system, favors muscle toning and has a relaxing effect as it is practiced as a stable rhythm, over grass, breathing fresh air and, in the best scenario, under the sun.
Although it’s not a high-impact exercise, it is true that, depending on the terrain and the weight carried by the golfer, a previous warm-up is recommended – between 15 and 20 minutes of stretches and light running – to ensure an excellent physical fitness and prevent injuries.
Golf movements concentrate in the arms, and the upper extremities acquire firmness and strength, improving the tone of the back and thorax. But in the moment of the swing (that masterful spin that precedes the hitting of the ball) not only do the upper muscles intervene, but the lumbar, the abdominal strength and the joints in the hip and knees, are essential elements for achieving the coordination and precision required for a good stroke.
Golf is specially recommended for people with cardiovascular problems, as it is a dynamic but low-impact sport, which is why it’s also recommended for those with slight neurological and muscular-skeletal system problems. Furthermore, thanks to those outdoor strolls, it also ensures healthy blood pressure, increases good cholesterol and is an excellent method for relaxing and preventing stress and osteoporosis. “And yes, it is addictive, it’s a sport of self-improvement and patience. This desire to improve, to hit the ball further, higher, straighter, with a spin, of dominating different strokes, that self-improvement, and the fact that you never stop learning new things, is what makes you addicted to golf.” And always remember: the green is your objective and the eagle your victory.
If you combine various disciplines such as Natha Yoga, the Mallakhmab Rope, Ayurveda and Pilates, with the liberty of movements provided by being suspended in the air, then a sport emerges which is almost an art form, it is AeroYoga.
Rafael Martinez, a graduate of Fine Arts and a yoga professor with over 30 years of experience, is the creator of this discipline (registered and official throughout the EU) whose foundation, as he mentions in his website “is the act of conceiving the human body as a work of art whose objective is recreation, as, on one hand, it is a method of enjoyment and, on another, a tool for recreating oneself and becoming the person we’ve always dreamed of”.
AeroYogais practiced on a swing that allows you to play with suspension and weightlessness, which takes pressure of the neck, the spine and the legs, as they no longer have to carry our weight. Controlled exercises, adequate breathing and postural correction manage to improve physical abilities, and tone and stylize the muscles. Being suspended in the air, the trajectory of the movements is greater and it improves blood flow, circulation and the body’s natural drainage, liberating toxins and water retention.
But its benefits are even greater because AeroYoga is a method of personal growth and promotes our emotional and mental abilities. The total body control helps control stress, fight phobias (doing simple aerial acrobatics awards self-esteem and confidence) and increases creativity. Aerial exercises improve the blood flow in the head and cerebral activity, but also elevate the state of mind as the body-mind connection connects you with your inner self, relaxes you and allows you to reach states of sedation and deep sleep. Let’s get flying.
“Close your eyes, imagine a line that connects your right shoulder blade with your left, think about how they are resting on the floor, which part of them is exerting greater pressure on the mat…” Imagine. Visualize. Those are the most used verbs in a session of Feldenkrais, a therapy based on self-perception and movement in order to get to know our own body and having complete control over it, thus awarding it well-being.
“It is a method of somatic education ”, explains Jaime Polanco, physical therapist and professor of Feldenkrais in Vivirenmovimiento, “which entails working with soft movements in order for the nervous system to recognize how there can be a better organization for our overall organism, including the emotional aspect, thought and perception…”
Feldenkrais therapy intends that the person be aware of the gesture they are carrying out, comprehending the sensations it produces. The participation of our bran in essential, it is the receiver of this new information and responsible for registering and automatizing it for use in our daily life. “The brain is fed images, and images of movement, so if you change the images of movement, you can change the movement itself. That is the essence of self-conscience through movement. It is a work of self-imagery, the image you have of yourself, of the actions you carry out, of how you relate to your surroundings. You are your movements and, if you reach their full potential, then things change for you, your optimism, your fears, your anxiety…you feel, if the expression permits, omnipotent.”
The Feldenkrais Method (created by Moshe Feldenkrais, Ukrainian physicist of the mid XX Century) is based on knowledge from the study of neuroplasticity – the ability of our nervous system to reorganize its connections under any circumstance -, the efficient use of the skeleton, infant motor development or cybernetics. In other words, how the different parts of a system communicate and how the position of your head influences your pelvis or how your pelvis affects the use of your arms.
Everyone can practice it, but it is highly recommended for those with chronic pain, arthritis, lumbago, osteoporosis, muscle contractions…”There is also important work done on neurological alterations, cerebral paralysis, hemiplegia, spinal injuries, those who need their nervous system to reconnect”, explains Jaime, and, furthermore, it improves performance in sports as it improves the use of your own body.
Breathe. Visualize how the air expands your lungs. Visualize how your back broadens. Imagine you are “omnipotent”. Imagine.
Text Bárbara Vidal