Saturday, 15 November 2014

Religious Movements and Sedentary Work

Many would be aware of the Shaolin Temple and its links to Kung Fu. Fewer would know that the original reason that martial exercises (18 Lohans) are said to have been introduced is that the monks spent long periods of time in meditation and the martial exercises were to balance that.

Ancient traditional yogic practices are similar. The popularity of yoga in the west saw growth and expansion in the movement practices as well as bringing yogic meditation to a wider audience. Prior to that yoga exercises including nauli etc were purely health based and included a focus on balancing out long periods spent stationary in meditation.

I have just been reading about a yogi who was said to have been over 100 years old and spent around 16 hours/day meditating, 2 hours in sleep and the rest (6 hours) in various activities including discussion with the people who came to see him. He was serene but stationary.

Tibetan Budhism also has its exercise system. One of these is the 5 Rites. This consists of a series of 5 exercises, again for health reasons and to balance out time spent stationary in meditation.

Various Chinese philosophical\religous systems also utilise exercises to "cultivate the chi". Whether this be Tai Chi Chuan, the Ba Duan Jin or one of the many,many others systems that exist.

There are also hybrid systems where religious, martial and gymnastic aspects are all involved and these, reflective of their aims, have far less emphasis or need to balance out stationary\sedentary activity as this would have been less of a problem due to their intrinsic nature.

It is sometimes said that there are no new ideas or new problems. In many, cultures there is an awareness of the need to balance out significant amounts of time spent sedentary\stationary with time spent in movement.

In the west, several decades ago, prolonged standing was relieved by seating to permit resting of the lower limbs. Now seating has taken over from standing but concerns about sedentary work have re-introduced the idea of standing to undertake tasks to replace seating. The natural pattern of human movement is not standing or sitting rather their is varied movement from point of view of postures, intensity and duration.


NB Puns on religious movement to one side, religion is about the "why". This blog focuses on the "how" (as well as what, when, where and occassionally who).



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