Standing on One Leg Exercises for Health
A Very Simple Exercise to Keep You Fit
There is no other way to keep the body fit and agile except to exercise. If you are as young as me at age 60 (year 2010) it calls for disciplined approach to ensure a healthy body. I don't expect everyone to be like me following a healthy lifestyle with adequate exercise and proper nutrition. But at least everyone, especially those who are adding on the years should at least do some form of simple exercise to keep the body functioning properly.
What about just doing this? Stand on one leg with the eyes closed for 10 seconds. Do this for each leg. Take a look at the photo on the right. That's me doing the "Golden cockerel standing on one leg" with the eyes closed. Remember I am 60 years old. No sweat. Easy meat.
So what are the benefits of doing this? You may think only birds like the storks and flamingoes do this crazy stance. Yes? No?
Please read on.
The Yoga "Tree" Pose
Before going into the benefits of this one-leg stand exercise, let me share with you the various styles or variations of this stance. Definitely there must be some positive effects on the body. Otherwise the experts would not have practised them.
The most popular is the yoga "tree" pose, with a number of variations. The photo on the right with me doing the pose is "The tree" pose.
There are other variations like, with the arms fully stretched vertically upwards, or with the palms clasped in front of the chest.
Golden Cockerel Stands on One Leg
When you practise taiji, one of the stances is the "golden cockerel stands on one leg." In this position, one leg is raised, with the arm raised in a "blocking" position. Take a look at me doing the stance on the right photo.
The Qigong Stance
The version of qigong that I am practising also has the one-leg stand. This stance is quite "relaxing" if you are adapt to it with constant practice. The leg that is standing is slightly bent. In the photo on the right you can't see my left leg bent as I was wearing long pants. The other leg is then comfortably "resting" just above the kneecap of the standing leg.
The more difficult part is to also raise both the shoulders. Take a close look at the photo and you'll see my raised shoulders. This you don't do for 10 seconds, but at least 30 seconds. I usually stand for 90 seconds. Of course you do this with each leg.
Benefits of Standing on One Leg
The most obvious benefit of standing on one leg is definitely the ability to maintain one's balance and equilibrium at all times. If you are a beginner, you would find that you will not be able to stand on one leg even for 5 seconds; not to mention with both the eyes closed! This doesn't mean that you are not healthy. Your body is simply not trained to maintain proper balance at all times.
Standing on one leg is so important that the Chinese have a special name for it : "Golden Cockerel stands on one leg" or "Jin Ji Du Li." It is found that constant practice like this with both eyes closed can prevent dementia. By the way dementia means "severe impairment or loss of intellectual capacity and personality integration, due to the loss of or damage to neurons in the brain."
Apparently there is this Sifu (teacher) in China with an unusual name called Zhong Li Ba Ren who is an authority on this "standing on one leg with closed eyes."
According to him "diseases appear because of problem in coordination of the various internal organs and the body loses its balance. Standing on one leg can readjust the inter-relationship of these organs. This Sifu was said to have authored the "best seller" health book titled, "Self help is better than seeking doctors' help" which he promoted this one-leg standing technique. Strangely, he recommended that the eyes should be slightly opened!
He pointed out that there are 6 important meridians passing through our legs. Standing on one leg, the weak meridians will feel sore and will get the required massage, and the corresponding organs of these meridians and their pathways will receive the appropriate fine tuning. So much for the "technical" explanation.
Be that as it may, I believe that this technique of standing on one leg will greatly enhance your physical posture, if nothing else. So, how long should one stand in this position? I think if you can do it for 1 minute, it would be great. With open eyes, of course!