The Value of Learning ChiRunning
There are so many good reasons to learn something new: ChiRunning, a language, a musical instrument, a new recipe — anything at all. Learning is a life-long process and is as much a part of our lives as breathing. In no uncertain terms, it’s one of those things in life we are meant to be doing.
Numerous studies show that our brain needs new stimulus and input in order to stay healthy. That well-known axiom still holds true: “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” The more you use your brain, the less effect the aging process has on your memory and brain power. When you learn a new sport, you are actually doubling the benefits of the learning process because you’re keeping both your mind and body fit. Keeping physically active is one of the primary tenants of longevity and good health.
But that’s just the start. The learning process itself is benefiting you tremendously.
On the physical level, you’re using new muscles and learning to move in a new way in harmony with how the body is meant to be used. In the process of learning ChiRunning, you learn to keep your body truly fit by engaging core muscles that will help develop balance and inner strength. You learn to keep your joints open, flexible and strong, which lets all that great Chi energy flow throughout your body.
You get all the great cardiovascular benefits of running as well. You learn to move your body efficiently and in line with the laws of physics, which will greatly reduce or eliminate impact and overuse injuries which are common to “power running.” ChiRunning offers all the physical benefits of running, without producing the harmful side effects that most people think of when they think of running. Simply put, your running becomes beneficial to your body, not harmful.
In learning ChiRunning you are also learning to focus your mind, and that is no easy task. As a matter of fact, that might be the hardest part of learning ChiRunning. It is also the place where you will derive the most benefit. Isn’t that the way it always is? The really good things are the ones you have to work for. Many people say that ChiRunning is more mental work than they are used to doing while running.
In many respects, ChiRunning is the thinking person’s way to run. There will probably never be a “ChiRunning for Dummies.” Although it’s important for people to get a physical experience first, it is the mind that really does the brunt of the work in ChiRunning. It is your mind that must learn to focus itself so that it can listen to the body. It is your mind that will instruct the muscles to starting working, or start relaxing, It is your mind that orchestrates the perfect run, so that you’re working from your core muscles, using your twist, or giving tired muscles the chance to relax while another part of your body does some of the running. It is your mind that will tell you to use your upper body more on the uphills. And it is your mind that will teach you that silly looking but effective way to tackle the steep hills without hurting yourself, or even breathing hard for that matter.
Practicing the ChiRunning focuses trains your to use your body and mind well together. You’ll learn to subtly sense your body in many ways. Whether it’s working on your posture and body alignment, or engaging your core muscles while relaxing the peripheral ones, you learn to really “listen” to your body. When you get the feel of this new way of “listening” to your body, it will effect every other area of your life as well. You’ll be more able to sense when something in your life doesn’t feel quite right and be more able to respond appropriately.
If all you want to do is learn to run without injuring yourself or perhaps get a little faster or run longer, ChiRunning can get you there. If you’re also interested in the benefits of meditation and the power of a focused mind, ChiRunning can offer you that too. For it is a focused mind moving with a relaxed body that does, in the end, give you the ease of movement you’re looking for.
Learning the ChiRunning form requires the focus of your mind more than anything else. “But who wants to think that much?” You might ask. “I just like to run to relax and stop using my mind.” Eventually you will. But that practice, that learning process that is demanding of the mind, is simply a preparation for what is to come. When you learn the proper physical form and learn to clear and focus your mind you open the doors to the real potential of ChiRunning.
Like a deep meditation practice, the greater aspect of ChiRunning is that you can learn how to be in the present, with your mind and body, which is where true inner freedom lies.