Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hot Flashes? Here's another option--

A couple years ago, I noticed my
mom suddenly fanning herself,
pumping open the collar of her
shirt, and then needing to leave
the room. I knew about hot flashes,
but didn't realize my mom got them
or that so many women are affected
by this nasty little affliction.

Because I have believed Tai Chi to
be The Great Panacea of the world,
I started reading up on hot flashes to
help mom and some of my female students.

Seemingly, the big trigger is stress.
Money, family, work, love and sex are
usually the main topics adults stress over.

Evidently, nothing works. Black cohosh
and most other pills/caplets can work for
a few women, but there is no product that
works across the board. Sites like this give
product reviews, but they are designed
purely to make money for the site owner:

Forget Hormone Replacement Therapy.The risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, heart
disease, strokes, dementia, and blood clots far
outweighs any benefits. This should be
a last resort, when you've tried everything else.

After more than 20 years of research on

hot flashes, Dr. Robert Freedman suggests
that hot flashes are triggered when a woman's
core body temperature rises slightly (this is
the temperature DEEP within the body;
NOT what a regular thermometer measures).

A professor of psychiatry and behavioral
neurosciences at Wayne State University
School of Medicine in Detroit, Freedman says,

"Ordinarily, the rise wouldn't cause much
discomfort. But in menopausal women, we
think their tolerance for small increases in
core body temperature, above what we call
the thermoneutral zone, is greatly reduced.
When that zone is breached, the result is
flushing and sweating." 

Dr. Freedman and many other experts
are now recommending "Paced Respiration"
for its awesome effectiveness, and complete
lack of down side.

Freedman continues,
"Our studies show that slow, deep breathing
can reduce the frequency of hot flashes by
about 50 percent. Women who've been trained to
use this technique as soon as they feel a flush coming
on are often able to abort the hot flash or at least
reduce its severity."

"The average breathing rate is 15 to 16 cycles
(inhaling and exhaling) per minute," he notes.
"But with training, women can slow their breathing
down to seven or eight cycles per minute, which
can significantly reduce the frequency and intensity
of hot flashes."

I created an online instructional video:

Taoist Breathing for Hot Flashes.

the instructions experts offer for
"paced respiration."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fat and Happy

Fat people live longer.
That's what a brand-spankin' new study
published in The Journal of The American
Geriatrics Society says. The 9000 person
study showed that overweight (BMI 25-29)
elderly people were 13 percent less likely
to die over a ten year period than those
who kept their weight within the
"recommended range."

Though we live in a society hell-bent
on beauty, there are many millions of people
who are overweight and healthy as can be.

My personal theory is that people
naturally put on ten pounds a decade,
or a pound a year. And there's nothing
wrong with that.

My friend (let's call her Julie) is in her
mid-forties; she exercises an hour a day,
eats well, takes care of herself, and carries
about 25 extra pounds. She is active and
looks very healthy. If Julie HAS bouts of
mad dieting or extreme exercise, I have
never seen or heard of it. She's happy
with herself.

Another 30-pound overweight, 40+ friend
surprised me one day when she told me
she was an Ironman triathlete, getting ready
to compete again. Shocked at the notion,
I said, "when will you start training again?"
She laughed and said, "I'm running 15 miles
a day right now." Also happy.

BMI and waist circumference should not
be strong indicators of health and ability.
Some of the greatest athletes in history
have been overweight. Shaquille O'Neal
would blow the BMI curve. So would
George Forman and Babe Ruth. Here is
a list of overweight athletes who won
gold medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics:
Fupa + gold medal = Fat & Happy

In China, a chubby belly is an indicator
of health and wealth. Rubbing the belly
of a Chinese Buddha is said to bring good
luck. Chinese women prefer a man with
a paunch.

In many cultures, heavier women are the
shiznit. In Renaissance art, the rubenesque
beauty of Venus on the Half Shell and the
Mona Lisa portray the larger size as highly
prized. This 20,000-year old Mesopotamian
sculpture says a lot about beauty in that time:

And who's more jolly than Old Saint Nick ?
Oprah's weight fluctuates more than the
stock market-- 
but with her friends, fame and fortune,
do you think it bothers her ?

I got married last summer and put on
20 pounds. I have never been happier.
And perhaps, healthier.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Controversy of Posture

This is important stuff, so I hope you'll
read it carefully.

Most agree on the concept of posture as a
WHOLE; but there are many regimes that
rely solely in their own beliefs on how
proper posture is created and maintained.

In general, it is agreed that posture:
1. means being upright (different than apes)
2. should be comfortable and sustainable
3. facilitates efficient movement
4. conserves joint mobility and functionality
5. enhances balance
6. decreases the risk of injury
7. contributes to good appearance
8. requires knowledge and practice

Now, who are these "regimes" with such
strong and differing ideas on how to create
good posture ?
  • Doctors/chiropractors (medical folk)
  • Yogis (yoga instructors, "alternative's")
  • Yer mom, teachers and everyone else
I admit I've been to chiropractors about
a dozen times in my life. One time, I sat in
a "doctor's" waiting room, and started reading
this book about the profession of chiropractic.
The book had an entire chapter on what D.C.s
need to do in order to make money by keeping
their clients coming back on a regular basis.
I thought it was really weird to have that laying
around for clients to read. I still do. To me,
that book says "chiropractors are selling

I started studying under Master Fu in 2003.
His ideas about posture were not only more
developed than anything I'd ever heard--
but whenever a differing idea about posture
came up, Master Fu would say vehemently,

At first, I would question his authority about
posture, asking things like,
"Well Master, how do you know that's wrong ?"
Without credentials, or abbreviations after his
name, I began to realize Master Fu's ethos came
from his ability. At age 58, the guy was faster,
more flexible, more capable, and could jump
higher than most people can when they're 20.

I also started doing my homework. Many of
Master Fu's ideas about posture coincided with
100-year old texts, such as the Quan Jing, and
even latter-day publications such as T'ai Chi
Magazine. For guys like this, "posture" wasn't
just a vehicle to make money--
it's a life-long study for personal development
of health and physical prowess. The practice
of THEIR postural techniques leads to shocking,
high-level athleticism and vivid sustainability.

So without bogging down into the mud of how
yer mom told you to "pull your shoulders back,"
or how dictates keeping
"your knees straight," let's focus on what Master Fu
says is correct. At the end of the day, Master Fu (64),
Bow Sim Mark (75), Shouyu Liang (68),
Feng ZhiQiang (80), Liang QianYa (80-something)
and many other practitioners of Neijia
are senior citizens who can still outperform
most young gymnasts...

This is me about four years ago, demonstrating
the difference between "curves of the back"
and Tai Chi posture (flat back, shoulders forward).

For the rest of the story, you can read
the principles of Fu Style Tai Chi here: