(Editors Note: the Islander is running a series of stories about ways to relax on the islands.)
As a child my father used to teach me various martial arts moves and exercises. At the time I had no idea why I was kicking my legs sideways and behind me or the reason for moving my hands in different directions.
But I later learned that my father - a tough, New York City police detective with a black belt in karate - was trying to prepare me and later my siblings for living in a rough world. He wanted us to know how to defend ourselves should we be forced to. He also wanted us to build strong, supple bodies.
Holly Maiz demonstrates the art of Qigong.
The bottom line: we all learned balance and coordination and of course a dose of discipline and focus.
Body mind exercises are a great way to help you relax and get centered. And you don't have to be a buff body builder or lithe figure skater to execute the exercises.
There are many forms of mind body exercises - many originating from the Asian part of the world.
Qigong, an Chinese form of exercise and meditation, can help build energy, balance, concentration and better manage stress.
Holly Maiz, a certified body mind practitioner on Sanibel, said the exercise helps people respond better to their bodies and develop better communication between the body and mind.
"It's all about balance," she said as she demonstrated by closing her yes and making gentle sweeping motions with her arms.
During Qigong, gentle and purposeful movements of the body are made while the mind works to stay in touch with the body shutting out exterior and interior interference.
Qigong is the mother of Tai Chi - another body/mind exercise. Qi means energy and gong means work and benefits gains from perseverance and practice.
Maiz said "mindful awareness" or paying attention to yourself is part of the technique and ultimately relaxing.
Maiz helps clients learn the art and technique of Qigong through workshops.
"Qigong helps find the center," she said.
No high-tech wizardry or athletic prowess is needed to practice Qigong or many other body/mind exercises. Al that really is needed is an open mind and the willingness to recognize your senses and how you are feeling.
"Am I noticing my inner body," Maiz said.
And with a new year just starting, the idea of developing a new skill that can help us relax and deal with life's slings and arrows might be what the doctor didn't have to order. According to Maiz, stress management and increased circulation , digestion and better metabolism regulation are some of the benefits attached to Qigong.
To learn more about Qigong and other body/mind exercises contact Maiz at www.bodymindwellbeing.com or call 898-1047.