I was talking to a friend of mine about Tai Chi just yesterday.
“My teacher is always saying that you want to be both soft and hard. Too many people that engage in tai chi or qi gong, only ever practice the softness, and thus are missing one side of the equation.”
I replied, “That’s similar to what I do with strength. Except here, so many people are focused just on the hard side of the equation. Straining the muscles. Trying to get more tense. Not realizing the power comes from relaxation.”
We were both leading to the same conclusion…
“Ultimately, you want both. Like two sides of a coin, one can’t exist without the other. Yet, true mastery is only attained when you actively seek out both.”
It’s cool to see similar ideas arise from different areas.
Muscles can only do so much. The cells themselves either contract or relax and with this ability you have all the myriad of movements of the human body.
Contracting is not better than relaxing.
Relaxing is not better than contracting.
You need both.
And you ought to make a study and a practice of both, if you want to be athletic (regardless of whether you consider yourself an athlete or not).
Tension in its maximal form involves high strength intensity exercises.
- A max deadlift or squat
- Bending a wrench with your bare hands
- The last rep of handstand pushups you can eek out
Relaxation may be in:
- A mobility exercise
- Stretching a muscle
- The second before the explosion in an Olympic lift
- Just plain sitting there relaxing.
Sadly, many people these days don’t know how to relax and de-stress.
Tension is great…except when it isn’t. When your body carries it around all day long, not from your workouts necessarily, but from mental worries and anxieties, it exacts a cost.
A cost on your hormones. A cost on your immune system. A cost in your mental activity.
In this day and age of chronic stress, and the pace of society speeding up faster and faster, learning how to truly relax is even more important.
By popular demand, this month’s Strength Health Mind Power Inner Circle newsletter covers 17 Methods of Physical, Mental, Emotional and Energetic Stress Reduction.
You’ll notice that stress comes from many different things. And it can be dealt with in a variety of manners.
As with all things, I find that a multi-layered approach works best.
If you’re a member it will be shipped out later this week.
If you’re not yet a member you can get on board before the end of the month and this issue will be delivered to your door, along with everything else you get as a member.