Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chi Walking: A Review

Picture it: Reston, Virgina 1998. An impressionable, but over-worked twenty-something goes to see How Stella Got Her Groove Back. The fictionalized version of Terry MacMillian’s real life love-affair was entertaining. (But seriously Terry, how could you not know? But I digress.) The women in the audience went wild for Taye Diggs, who is a gorgeous man, for certain. I was more impressed with not only Angela Bassett’s body, but her running style. The woman ran like a gazelle. Her form. Her grace. All I could say was “Wow!”

I called my now-husband, and said, “Rom, I’m going to start running!” I put on my white sweatpants, white t-shirt, white shoes, and hit the pavement. It’s running…no problem, right? I lasted all of two blocks before I said, “To hell with this!” I walked home defeated.

In the 13 years since, each time I’ve tried to walk or jog for fitness, I always felt like I was missing something. It didn’t matter if it I was on a treadmill or outside. Time didn’t matter either: 10 minutes or 30 minutes. Each walk ended the same way: I was tired. My legs hurt. I felt depleted. And I cursed. A lot. :-)

I never gave up hope I would learn to run. Watching people run with ease always fascinated me. To have such a high level of cardiovascular fitness was my goal.

Last month, I began working with my friend Shaymali, who is a personal trainer and a fellow yoga teacher. She asked me about my goals. One of them is to run a 5-K race this year. Shaymali said to me, “If your goal is to run a 5-K, then you MUST get this book called Chi Running. I wish someone had put this book in my hand before I started running. I had to re-learn how to run. I want you to start off the right way.” She has completed half-marathons, so I bought Chi Running the next day.

I figured I must learn to walk before I run, so I got Chi Walking from the library and read that first. I practiced all the moves in my own house before I went outside. The first time I Chi Walked, it lasted 4 minutes because I witnessed the tail end of a nasty hit-and-run accident. (No one was visibly hurt. The car that was hit was empty. I was the first person on the scene and had to tell the owner what happened, and of course, the police. That, as they say, is a whole ‘nother story….)

The last 3 times were a REVELATION. I LIKE walking! I’m noticing nature. I come home in a positive mood. Even before I end with the stretches, I feel good. And even more wild, I look forward to walking and I enjoy myself!

Chi Walking: The Five Mindful Steps for Lifelong Health and Energy by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer is a MUST-HAVE if you want to walk for fitness. Danny is a long-time student of Tai Chi. The Tai Chi principles of working with nature, rather than against it, is the root of Chi Walking. I appreciate the focus on mindful living, not simply good walking form.

Those 5 mindful steps are:
  • Get aligned
  • Engaged your core
  • Create balance
  • Make a choice
  • Move forward
Those steps are bigger than walking. They are 5 mindful steps for life.

Shaymali knew I would like the book because we’re both yoga teachers. I like holistic approaches to health. We are mind-body-spirit beings; and all parts of us must be nurtured. Chi Walking is a holistic fitness program that you can use for the rest of your life. I am reading Chi Running now, and review that one soon. I plan on doing both as I train for the Baltimore Running Festival in October!

Rating: 10+ out of 10 Mocha Angels



Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this, Althea. I have yet to overcome my fear of getting back into serious distance running. There are some annual charity races I'd really like to be a part of; however, I'm afraid of undoing the healing work achieved through yoga and Pilates by getting back into running. Thanks to your generous feedback on the book "Chi Walking," I'm willing to take the leap of faith, after devouring both books whole. Lol! Namaste.

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