The 70 percent rule

Living and doing in moderation can be an alien concept to many of us who are part of the no-pain-no-gain philosophy of the modern world. Learning to conserve our energy is essential for optimum wellbeing that is why at the heart of all i  teach is the 70 Percent (Two Thirds) Rule. Simple in meaning, it has very deep roots and is an essential principle of learning Qigong for health and longevity and is at the heart of Taoist practices.

Strain can be seen as a result of breaking the 70% rule – it is a physiological condition caused by excessive exercise or too much tension / adrenaline. This shouldn’t be confused with effort, which may left you feeling tired and exercised, but not physically, emotionally or mentally injured.

And the rule is…

Quite simply, by completing any technique you do  to only 70% of your current capacity you can:

  • absorb what you learn more easily.
  • reduce your internal resistance & maintain the effort for longer.
  • store your energy for a time when you really need it.
  • increase your capacity as you practise, without stress.
  • enable the body’s natural ability to heal.

An example of optimizing  your energy would be around Your Menstrual Cycle

I am a firm believer in optimizing energy before your cycle. Lets try to move away from the no pain no gain mentality and  take a closer look at how we can work with our bodies instead of against it.

Below is an outline of what is happening to your body during your cycle, and how to exercise to help avoid injury and maintain good health.

Phase 1: Menstruation

You guessed it, the first phase is when you’re actually bleeding. This phase could be only 3 days, or up to 10 days. This is the most Yin part of your cycle. In this phase, your uterus is getting rid of your uterine lining, and your pituitary begins producing LH and FSH to stimulate the growth of new follicles.

Tips for Phase 1:

  • Warm up – placing a heat pack or hot water bottle on your lower abdomen can help reduce cramping and keep blood circulating.
  • Slow down as much as possible, and only partake in gentle exercise (like gentle walks and stretching).
  • Eat comforting foods like warm, slow-cooked stews, whole grains (if tolerated) and root vegetables.

Phase 2: The Follicular Phase (end of menstruation to pre-ovulation)

In this phase, one of the many follicles produced in phase 1 becomes dominant and starts to grow, producing more oestrogen. As a result, the uterine lining thickens and grows – this phase is also a Yin phase.

TCM Tips for Phase 2:

  • Many women feel energetic and extroverted in this phase, so now is a great time for more strength based exercises (hiking, weight training,  new projects, meeting new people and having getting flirty.
  • Creative juices are flowing well, so get stuck into those projects you’ve been putting off!
  • Great foods to incorporate in this phase include leafy greens, fish, eggs, meats and shellfish. These are all great for building Yin and ensuring you grow a thick uterine lining.

Phase 3: Ovulation

Ovulation is said to occur on day 14, but this is a myth. In reality there are many factors influencing this, including cycle length and the health of the individual. In general, it occurs 11-16 days prior to the first day of bleeding. During this phase, a surge of the LH hormone triggers the release of the egg from the dominant follicle. This phase marks the peak of the Yin phase, where Yang energy begins to really start rising.

Tips for Phase 3:

  • A great time to add a bit of cardio to your exercise routine ( brisk walk or a cardio pilates class).
  • Verbalise your thoughts and feelings and get creative.
  • Now is a great time to eat lighter foods such as fish, chicken, quinoa, and warm salads.

Phase 4: Luteal (post-ovulation to pre-menstrual)

The shell of the follicle that released the egg, now called the corpus luteum, begins to break down and secrete progesterone. This is the most Yang part of your cycle, which is reflected in your temperature consistently rising. If pregnancy occurs, the body requires a LOT of energy to get the embryo growing, which is reflected in this very energetic and active part of the cycle.

In the few days before the period begins however, many women begin to feel more withdrawn and introverted.

Tips for Phase 4:

  • Now is the time to really listen to your intuition – many women are more in touch with their bodies and emotions at this time. Spells of feeling irritable or upset may be signs to slow down.
  • Decrease vigorous exercise, and incorporate lots of stretching.
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings.
  • Look after yourself – get that massage you’ve been meaning to book for months!
  • Start up again with those warm, yang-supporting foods like cooked vegetables, stewed meats and brown rice.

Learn to tune into your senses and listen to your body : If you are experiencing stress or discomfort at a physical, emotional or mental level, you must adjust the percentage rule to suit how you feel.. You should adjust the amount of effort and practice according to how you feel. Some people with chronic pain for example, may find that they need to work right down at a 2% range, that to many would look as though they are barely moving. If you have an injury that is healing and you’ve been told it’s OK to do some gentle exercise, you may choose to use the 20% rule for a while until you feel a release occur, then you may practise using the 30% rule for a while and so on, to gradually return your body to a normal balance at 70%. The same principle applies to mental and emotional stresses, in holistic terms these stresses affect your body and you should be gentle and compassionate with yourself.