Aikido during the coronavirus – how to strengthen your immune system (Not only for martial artists!)
Aikido teaches us how to accept, utilize and improve any situation while learning something new. How can we apply this art to the current situation surrounding the coronavirus epidemic? With all the safety precautions and the ban on training, how can we meet in even better condition and healthier than before?
We are being offered the opportunity to practice Aikido in everyday life.
(In this article, I am not writing about the “hand washing” type of prevention – virus protection procedures are described frequently and sufficiently elsewhere. The following article is about strengthening your personal immune system.)
Common Sense and Simple Measures
We still have little information about coronavirus, but a few things are almost certain. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease (i.e. it mainly attacks the respiratory tract), and even in an epidemic, a large proportion of the population remains healthy. Our resistance to the virus depends mainly on our immune systems. What does this depend on?
- Drinking regime – doctors recommend drinking a lot and often to keep the mucous membranes moist (In Taiwan, which managed the epidemic, authorities recommended drinking warm water)
- Food – eat well, varied and slowly. Everyone needs somewhat different food and I assume you know what and why you eat and how food affects you.
- Antioxidants and dietary supplements – general classics include fruits, vegetables, and lots of vitamin C. You must certainly have your own tricks – some prefer herbs, some mushrooms, others green tea or green food.
- Fresh air – being out in the sun, with trees on all sides and high sky overhead increases immunity somehow automatically…
Now we have time to indulge in all these things!
(On the other hand, smoking, too much alcohol and substance abuse harms your body.)
Physical activity and health
Regular exercise is very important for our immune systems. Ideally, we should move twice a day for 10–20 minutes in an intensity appropriate to our condition. Important is regularity and the golden mean (extremes do not improve immunity). Some tips:
- Aikido warmup – Our warm-up is simple, but when we do it regularly, it is an excellent health exercise. Do you remember the exercises?
- Hand waving – This excellent and versatile workout is part of our warm-up. It wakes up and warms your entire body – for more details and videos, please see this article. If you make it the core of your excersize, I recommend 5–20 minutes.
- Makko-hó – This set comes from shiatsu and stretches the whole body with all its energy paths. It is also great for calming down at bedtime. On google you can find many variants. I recommend this image PDF by Jan Pletánek (from his website Taiji Pardubice)
The exercises above are just the foundation. Each of you will get to know dozens of other exercises (basic steps, center exercises, weapons, energy or breathing exercises…) so you can build your everyday individual workouts to meet your needs.
Of course, I recommend working out in a healthy and well-ventilated area.
A merry mind – The First half of health
“The mind of an ordinary man is overwhelmed with optimism and ease every time he overcomes a problem. Depression comes when one is overpowered and crushed by something. Having an optimistic state of mind means wandering in enlightenment; being depressed ultimately means a dungeon,” wrote Samurai and Zen master Shosan in the seventeenth century.
And the Czech classic figure Svejk added: “It takes peace.”
How can we achieve this under the circumstances?
- Don’t take the news too personally – journalists are paid to create drama, and if we consume media too often, our spirits begin to fall. The solution is to limit monitoring our messages and Facebook and not spend too much time complaining. Circumstances exist as they are– complaining does not affect them, it affects us.
- Regulate your stress– stress weakens the immune system. So if you feel that life is putting too much pressure on you, try to find a way to distance yourself and become more comfortable. Sleep, fresh air and exercise can also help.
- Courtesy and kindness – people are already beginning to snap at each other and bicker about the situation. They do not realize that they are mainly poisoning the air for themselves. Courtesy and kindness are at the core of our practice – and now we can practice them under pressure. Greet, ask, thank… and, if possible, resolve any differences with a smile and humor.
- Pleasant company – spending time with the people we love and who set us at ease, playing with children…
- Take advantage of the time – many of us are forced to have more free time than usual. We can start the projects we always wanted to do: create something, read a book, learn something new…
That’s all for now. We’ve been given more time… how are we going to use it?
Text by: Martin Švihla
Translation: Isabel Sovitzky