New Habit {Tackling Sluggish Mornings}

Some fight sluggish mornings by doing stretches while others prefer an intense workout at the gym to get ready for the busy day ahead. Now, I’m the type who does neither of those things. If I get 8 hours of sleep, I usually have no problem getting started on my to-do list and I tend to feel positive throughout the day. If I stayed up late or had a restless night, I often have to force myself out of bed to try and get things done. In times like this I’m in a state of constant irritation, which affects my productivity and behavior towards others. That said, I had my fair share of slow and unproductive days but I never attempt to seek solutions to make my life better. Then one day, Taiso came into the picture.

I was first exposed to Taiso through Jenny Mustard’s Sunday Breakfast Series on YouTube. The videos in this series always end with fast forward scenes of Jenny and David {Jenny’s boyfriend} waving their arms like crazy and squatting to the beat of music. It looks ridiculous but they seem to enjoy their Taiso sessions. A lot. I figured if doing Taiso could make them laugh so much in the morning, it would probably do me some good. So I decided to try it the next morning and here are my thoughts:

1) The music is so uplifting!

2) This is gentle enough to do first thing in the morning.

3) This actually is kind of fun.

If you have never heard of Taiso, here is a quick summary. Rajio Taiso or radio calisthenics {exercises performed to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement} is a form of exercise that involves dynamic stretches, joint mobility drills and body weight exercises choreographed to the tempo of upbeat piano music. In the early 1920s, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. sponsored a 15 minute calisthenics over the radio in an attempt to improve the American population’s quality of health. It failed to become a trend in America, but visiting Japanese officials were so fascinated by the idea that they took it home and turned it into a morning ritual. In Japan, Rajio Taiso is aired every morning at 6.30- 40 AM and at 8.40 -50 AM. Data from the National Radio Exercise Federation indicates that 20% of the country’s population participate in Rajio Taiso on a daily basis; no matter if they’re at home, at work or at school.

Rajio Taiso at a temple

Going off on a tangent…

During my visit to Vietnam in 2014, my family and I stayed at a hotel that is located next to a school. Every morning at 6 AM {maybe earlier}, loud music could be heard from the compound. Sisson mentioned in his post that most Asian countries adopt a variation of Rajio Taiso {i.e. Tai Chi}. Although I couldn’t see anyone doing exercise at that time {our view from the hotel is blocked by buildings}, I now realize it is probably just one of their morning rituals. I have to admit, it was a frustrating experience for us because we were hoping to get some rest but there was just no way we could fall back asleep once the music has started {it lasted for 15 minutes or more}.

Like most exercise, Rajio Taiso has a number of benefits. It increases heart rate {and hence blood flow} and the stretching involve can improve flexibility. In general, the rate of degenerative disease is lower in Japan and in countries that adopt morning calisthenics. Shibata et al.’s research also found that the rate of impaired functional capacity {the inability to take care of oneself and perform everyday tasks} is much higher in American seniors than Japanese seniors. Because these studies are quite dated, I decided to search for recent ones. Kawagoe et al. investigated 77 male factory workers with median age of 57.2 years. Over the course of 8 months, the participants were required to perform a series of physical exercise {modified to emphasize balance, agility and muscle strengths and improve physical performance} 5 times per week before work. Results indicate that Rajio Taiso significantly increase the static standing time, flexibility, agility and muscle strength in elderly workers, contributing to fewer cases of workplace falls.

I do Taiso when I have days off or when I don’t have morning shifts. But sometimes, I forget to do it altogether. But here is the thing, although Taiso is classified as a form of morning exercise, you could always do the routine in the afternoon, after work or whenever you have a writer’s block. Anytime can be Taiso time! Also, when you write tasks down or set reminders using your phone, you’re more likely to commit. I have been doing Rajio Taiso for about a month. On sluggish mornings, I find that it energizes me and allows me to quickly get into “the work zone”. It doesn’t, however, automatically put me in a good mood. Sleeping well is the key to feeling great…at least that is I think. Nevertheless, I will try to incorporate Taiso into my morning routine from now on. If you’re interested in giving Taiso a go – click here.

Factory workers doing Taiso

How do you overcome sluggish mornings? Did you recently pick up a new habit that changes your life for the better? I would love to hear about them! Just remember this, new habits take time to form but if you found something that works for you, commit and it will be worthwhile in the long run.

Keeping Up With Curiosity’s Top 3 Discoveries:

  1. The Imperial Aid Association used Rajio Taiso to limber soldiers up during the war. It was also introduced to countries occupied by the Japanese.
  2. In 2015, the federation started giving out awards to those who pass the test in promoting Taiso on 3 different levels (nationwide, prefectural or community). The test is conducted in Tokyo, Kobe, Kanazawa and Ishikawa prefecture.
  3. The routine is supposed to last for about 6- 8 minutes but I have been following a 3 minute Taiso video for two weeks! Well…at least now I know.

Author: Keeping Up With Curiosity

Professional Styling Academy Graduate - From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Love to Cook, Explore and of course Eat - Believe in the Power of Positive thinking - Learning to embrace a Minimal and Simple life -

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