Who said that there is nothing to learn from Ancient times? A lot of wisdom has been passed down the centuries, waiting patiently for us to use it and rediscover the natural way to our wellbeing.
Superfood of the Mayans
I bet you’ve heard of the beloved and ever so popular superfood - chia seeds. They’ve taken on the world with a blast, and everyone and their mother is well aware of the health benefits. But what is their origin? How come they are only now getting widely used by the general public?
The ancient Mayan civilization believed that the chia seed possessed supernatural powers. In their language, chia means “strength”. It is speculated that the reason for that is the considerable amount of energy that this tiny seed can provide. Another possible explanation is its hygroscopic nature, which means that it can soak in water and hold it for a long time, resulting in constant hydration of the body.
Ancient Mayan warriors thought it was the secret powers of chia that fueled their bodies and kept them up and running without fatigue. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue, and chia seeds can efficiently combat that! The Mayan ambassadors and messengers used to carry a small bag of chia seeds with them on their journeys. The reason was yet again the belief that this will replenish their energy storage and help them recover quickly and efficiently from the long and draining trips. Somehow, without the help of modern science, they knew that the seeds could enhance performance and endurance. They kept on using them for centuries, tirelessly believing in their capacity to improve their overall wellbeing and physical condition!
Embrace meditative running
Modern life is becoming more and more hectic, am I right? You can’t have a single minute without being bombarded with all kinds of stimuli! There is always traffic, requests from people, and let’s not even mention the demanding nature of social media. With so many demands on our minds, it is no surprise that we find it challenging to stop for a second, breathe in, breathe out and let ourselves be mindful. “One step at a time” - numerous wise men have said. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that.
The Indus Valley, about 5000 years ago: prehistoric cave people produced exquisite and historically important cave art. Quite a few of the images depict yogis locked in meditation, totally immersed in their inner world, and oblivious to the commotion surrounding them. As time passed, many religions adopted the basic concepts of meditation and started teaching their followers about the physical and mental benefits of this quiet and peaceful practice.
Meditation can help you discover a better connection with your own body and turn your attention to those everyday moments that we so often let pass us by. It is much easier to run with a friend and spend time chatting or maybe listening to your favourite beats. Trust me, I know, but there is something almost magical in trying to embrace the moment and fully experience it with all of its ups and downs. Next time you are running up a hill, try not to obsess over how much it sucks or how excited you are to be over. Instead, notice your judgment, be mindful of it and tune in to your bodily sensations. Every muscle ache, every pain, every step. Accept them for what they are and do not fight them. They are a vital part of the whole process.
Martial art for inner peace
Many people perceive martial arts as violent combat sports for which you need to be extremely fit and even kind of aggressive. For many, this might be the case, but some are much more relaxed, soft, and focused on harmonizing the body.
Tai Chi Chuan means “supreme ultimate fist” in Chinese, but it has very little to do with fists. At least not in the way most people would think. It is an ancient form of exercise, designed to provide relaxation while performing body-conditioning exercises. It is considered a “mind-body exercise” and it involves slow, gentle, and fluid movements that should result in harmonizing the yin and yang. That is the Chinese philosophy about duality and the balanced interaction between two complementary principles.
Tai Chi has proven benefits when it comes to cardiorespiratory function, strength, and flexibility. It reduces triglycerides and blood pressure. Moreover, it is suggested that regular practice can improve mental health by reducing some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Tai Chi can also reduce the risk of falls in elderly individuals, help with mobility in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and improve balance.
Everything about Tai Chi truly feels like an antidote to the Western way of living and all of its detrimental effects on our mental and physical wellbeing. Anyone can do Tai Chi as it is suitable for people of all ages and abilities. Take a deep breath, and try some relaxed “fighting”.
Whether you are a complete beginner or a conditioned athlete, I believe there are benefits for everyone!