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How Indians Use Their Muscles

( Originally Published 1930 )

Floor and Bed Exercises

Unless you are fortunate enough to live where you can take these exercises upon the ground and thus contact the magnetic earth currents as the Indian does, the next best thing is to take them upon the floor. Many of the following exercises are excellent also to take in bed, upon waking in the morning or for invalids and convalescents. The Indian heads north and south facing the sun whenever he can.

The first thing an animal does upon waking is to stretch, thoroughly, all the muscles of the body. This limbers them up after the relaxation of sleep and stimulates the circulation of the blood. The observing Indian soon learned the value of this practice. Stretching is always indulged in, after any kind of relaxation, before any form of exercise is taken.

Always have plenty of fresh air circulating through the room when you exercise.

The following exercises strengthen the muscles of the abdomen, including those forming the walls which inclose the viscera, and assist the function of breathing. They also exercise the muscles of the sides and back and the muscles and ligaments which hold the internal vital organs in place.

They strengthen the muscles which support the spinal vertebre, helping to make the spine flexible and limber as well as strong. The constant use of these small muscles in various exercises makes the spine and back extremely powerful, if properly executed.

The muscles of the arms, hands, legs, and feet are all lengthened, strengthened, and limbered into flexibility through the stretching.

These exercises are also effective in reducing excessive fat from the hips, waist and abdomen, as well as around the shoulder blades and sides.

They produce an exhilarating effect owing to the stimulated circulation of blood and nerve currents and the thorough oxygenation and vitalization of the whole body.

Remember always to breathe correctly while exercising and to go slowly at first.

EXERCISE II.—Slow waltz music.

(a) Lying on back with the legs and arms in line with the torso : Relax and inhale.

Stretch with both feet and both hands as far as you can reach, counting six.
Relax and exhale.
Repeat four times.
Repeat, stretching with little fingers and little toes.
Repeat, stretching with middle toes and middle fingers.
Repeat, stretching with large toes and thumbs.

(b) Same position as (a) :

Relax and inhale.
Stretch with right-hand fingers and right-foot toes as far as you can reach, slowly, counting six.
Relax and exhale.
Repeat, stretching left hand and left foot.
Alternate, repeating four times.

(c) Same position as (a) :

Relax and inhale.
Stretch with the right wrist at the base of the palm as though pressing hard, and with the right heel as far as you can, slowly, counting six.
Relax and exhale.
Repeat, stretching left hand and left foot in the same way. Alternate, repeating four times.

(d) Same position as (a) :

Repeat all the above exercises but rotate the body to the left side and stretch up and forward with the right hand and forward and down with the right foot, counting six.

Then rotate the body on to the right side, stretching the left hand and foot in the same way, counting six.

Inhale and hold the breath during each full rotation.

Relax and exhale.

This exercise will make the whole body limber and exercise a different set of muscles.

(e) Lying on back with arms at sides:

Clasp the thumbs and stretch the hands and fingers as far above the head as you can and—at the same time

Cross the feet and stretch the toes, counting six.

Rotate from side to side, holding the breath for one complete rotation.

EXERCISE 12.—Waltz music. This exercise will bring a different set of small muscles into play and develop strength in the back, sides, arms, and legs.

Lying on the stomach with arms at sides :

Relax and inhale.

Repeat exercises (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e) of Exercise II in this position. Be sure to turn the head occasionally, exercising both sides.

EXERCISE 13.-Waltz music. This exercise will limber and develop strength in the spine, hips, shoulder joints and shoulder blades, as well as the sides of the torso and the backs of the legs.

Lying on the back, feet together and arms above head in line with the torso :

Relax and inhale.

Lift the body to a sitting position, reaching upward and forward, stretching with the fingers, counting six. (Figure 19 A.)

Bend forward at the hip joint (not the waist), stretch for-ward and grasp the feet with the hands, allowing the head to bend forward. Keep the spine relaxed and the muscles of the abdon in and up. Count three. Exhale as you bend forward. (Figure 19 B.)

Push out the back and shoulders as you pull and straighten the knees. Count three.

Swing back slowly to position, stretching the hands in an arc. Relax and take a full breath before the next exercise.

EXERCISE 14.-Waltz music. This exercise strengthens the muscles of the abdomen, spine, legs, arms and back.

(a) Lying on back, hands clasped at back of neck:

Inhale slowly, keeping the body relaxed.

Lift the right leg, stretch, toes pointed as though reaching as far up and out as you can, and bring the leg slowly to a position at right angles to the body. Count six.

Exhale slowly while swinging the leg to position, stretching vigorously all the way, from hip joint to toes.

Relax.

Repeat with the left leg.

(b) Alternate.

(c) Alternate, stretching with the fingers and arms, upward and outward at the same time.

(d) Repeat (a), lifting the right leg and stretching with the heel. Repeat with the left leg.

(e) Alternate, stretching with the palms and wrists at the same time.

(f) Repeat, lifting both legs and stretch with the toes.

(g) Repeat, lifting both legs and stretching with the heels.

(h) Repeat, lifting both hands above the head on a line with the torso and stretching first with toes and fingers and then with heels and palms.

EXERCISE 15.-Waltz music. The bicycle tread. This exercise is excel-lent for limbering the joints and develops the muscles of the legs, abdomen, and back.

(a) Lying on back with hands clasped at back of neck:

Relax and inhale.

Lift the right leg, stretching as far as you can with the toes pointed, and swing slowly in a circle, as though riding a bicycle backward. Count twelve.

Relax and exhale.

Repeat with the left leg.

(b) Alternate, working slowly and keeping the spine flexible and

stretching vigorously. Feel the pull in the abdomen and back.

(c) Repeat, but with a reverse circular motion, as though riding a bicycle forward.

(d) Alternate, breathing rhythmically and slowly, inhaling between each complete revolution of the legs and exhaling at the finish. Relax.

(e) Repeat, stretching with the heels.

EXERCISE 16.-Waltz music. A good exercise for limbering the hip joints and strengthening the muscles of sides, back, and legs.

(a) Lie on the left side, left hand under the neck, right hand on right hip.

Relax and inhale.

Swing the right leg in a complete circle, toes pointed and stretching. Count six.

Relax and exhale.

Reverse the circle.

(b) Repeat, lying on the right side and swing the left leg in a circle.

Repeat, reversing the circle.

EXERCISE 17.--Music in march time. An effective exercise for strengthening the muscles of the abdomen, back and legs; also limbers the knee joints and aids evacuation.

(a) Lying on back, hands clasped at back of neck :

Relax and inhale.

Draw right knee up to the body, using the thigh muscles and pulling hard, as though a weight was tied to the foot. Count four.

Kick hard, straight out.

Swing back to position.

Relax and exhale.

Repeat, using the left leg.

(b) Alternate, kicking with force, first with the right and then with the left foot.

EXERCISE 18.-Waltz music. This exercise is valuable as a bowel massage; it also limbers the knee joints.

Lying on back, hands at sides :

Relax, take a deep breath and hold.

Draw right knee up close to the body, clasp knee with both hands and rotate the whole leg in a circle, three times. Count nine.

Churn the abdomen vigorously.

Swing to position; relax and exhale.

Repeat with the left knee.

EXERCISE 19.-Music in swinging rhythm. This is a good hip reducer and also strengthens the backs of the legs and the spine.

Lying on back, arms at right angles to the body, palms flat : Relax and inhale.

Stretch right leg, toes pointed, and raise it to a vertical position. Count four.

Swing to left and touch the floor just beyond the left hand,

keeping the leg straight and stretching hard. Count four. Rotate the body on the left hip as you swing the right leg. Swing slowly back to position, stretching out all the way, counting four.

Relax and exhale.

EXERCISE 20.-This exercise produces flexibility, limbers the joints and develops the muscles on the insides of the legs.

(a) Lying on the back, arms at sides, palms down :

Relax.

Lift both legs slowly, stretching vigorously, to a vertical position, keeping the knees straight; stretch with the toes and fingers.

(b) Inhale slowly as you swing both arms, stretching and reaching,

in an arc on the floor until in line with the torso. Count six.

(c) Now spread the legs as wide apart as you can, stretching with the toes. Count three. The weight of the legs will help the spread.

Swing back to perpendicular position, arms at sides. Exhale and relax.

(d) Repeat, stretching with palms and heels.

EXERCISE 21—This exercise will develop the neck, chest and abdomen. (a) Lying on the back with a large pillow under the shoulders, feet together, hands at sides, palms in:

Relax and inhale.

Stretch the head and neck backward, lifting the chin. Count three. Keep the shoulders flat on the pillow and the spine perfectly flexible. (Figure 21.)

Now stretch and pull from the crown of the head, and lift the head, pulling the chin in toward the chest. Count three; hold three.

Stretch slowly back to position, counting three, exhaling. Repeat four times.

(b) Repeat, stretching the fingers and arms down at the same time.

(c) Repeat, stretching the head to the right, vertically; to the left, vertically.

(d) Repeat, without pillow. Lift head and look at toes. Stretch toes toward you at the same time: arms relaxed.

EXERCISE 22. MUSIC 4 time. This exercise makes the shoulder joints flexible and stimulates the action of the liver.

(a) Lying on the left side, left hand under the neck, right hand relaxed on the breast, legs and feet relaxed, head on a pillow :

Rotate the shoulder joint, moving it up and forward, down, back and around, in a circle, pulling and stretching out from the socket as far as you can, quite vigorously. Count six.

Repeat four times, breathing rhythmically.

(b) Reverse the rotation, back and around.

(c) Turn on the right side and rotate the left shoulder in the same way.

(d) Churn the sides with the hands, in the entire region of the liver (right) and spleen (left).

EXERCISE 23. This exercise wii ,stimulate the circulation in the intestines and assist in moving the bowels.

Lying on the back without a pillow, flatten the spine against the floor; hips relaxed :

Relax and breathe softly and rhythmically.

Draw the knees up, keeping the feet flat upon the floor.

Now massage the entire abdomen, using the fists or kneading deep with the fingers, one full minute at a time. (Figure 22.) Complete the exercise with a full breath and relax.

Foot and Wrist Exercises

EXERCISE 24.--Music, waltz or fox trot.

(a) Lying on back, feet together, hands clasped at back of the neck : Relax and inhale.

Lift right leg to an angle of about forty-five degrees.

Point the toes and turn the foot to the right, down and around in a circle, stretching vigorously. Count six. Use the muscles of the foot and ankle only. Resume position while exhaling. Count six.

Repeat with the left foot.

(b) Repeat, stretching with the heels instead of the toes.

(c) Repeat position but twist the whole leg to the right, holding it upright. Repeat with the left leg. Then repeat with each leg twisting to the left, counting six for each.

Twist both inward. Repeat in a wavy motion, four times.

EXERCISE 25.-Music 3/4 time.

(a) Lying on back, feet together, arms at sides :

Relax and inhale.

Lift the right arm town angle of about forty-five degrees. Point the fingers and turn the hand to the right, down and around in a circle, stretching vigorously. Count six. Be careful that the motion is made with the muscles of the wrist and hand, principally.

Resume position while exhaling. Count six.

Repeat with the left hand and arm.

(b) Repeat position but twist the whole arm, holding it upright, counting six. Repeat with the left arm and hand, twisting to the left.

Repeat, using both arms, twisting in and then out, in a wavy, rhythmic motion, slowly, stretching while you twist. EXERCISE 26.—Music 94 time.

Repeat position. Repeat exercises (a) and (b), but use the right leg and the left arm.

Repeat, using left leg and left arm, then left leg and right arm. Repeat, using both legs and arms.

Repeat all exercises stretching with the palms and heels. Repeat all exercises pulling on the return, after stretching.

EXERCISE 27.—Music, anything inspiring. This exercise is an excellent one for the spine, legs and internal organs.

(a) Lying on the floor, arms at sides : (Figure 23.)

Inhale and hold. Lift the legs straight up and over head in an arc, trying to touch the floor back of the head and shoulders with the toes, counting eight. This may require considerable practice and should be taken easily and without undue strain. Brace the body with the hands flat on the floor.

Swing to position slowly, exhaling.

Repeat four times.

(b) Repeat (a) and after touching the floor with the toes, back of the head, swing the legs in an upward arc, bracing the body with elbows and hands, on the floor. (Figure 23.)

EXERCISE 28.-Inspiring music.

Lying on the floor, hands at sides :

Inhale and hold.

Lift the legs in an arc and when perpendicular to the body lift the body also until resting on the shoulders. Brace with the arms and hands on the floor.

When perfectly steady, stretch up with the feet and toes. Resume floor posture, exhaling, and swinging slowly back to position.

This exercise may be varied by changing the arm position and clasping the hands back of the neck or across the chest.

EXERCISE 29.-Inspiring music.

Lying on the floor, hands at sides :

Inhale and hold.

Swing the legs up, over and back, touch the floor and then, quickly placing the hands on the floor, back of the shoulders and head, to assist in pushing the weight of the body over, carry the weight on to the feet and up to a standing position.

Many acrobatic feats may be accomplished through elaboration of this exercise. If properly done, it is an excellent way to keep limber. Children learn to do these exercises easily and enjoy them immensely.

EXERCISE 30.-Waltz music. This exercise is particularly strengthening to the spine and the muscles of the back, legs, and arms. It also strengthens the hips, elbows, and shoulders.

(a) Lying on the floor, face down, hands at sides :

Inhale and place hands palms down on the floor, on a level with the shoulders, elbows bent.

Lift the body from the floor, bracing with the toes and hands. Slowly lift the hips as high as you can. (Figure 24.) Count six. Slowly lower the body to the floor, exhaling at finish. Rest. Repeat four times.

(b) Repeat (a) and when the body is lifted about a foot from the floor sway the hips to the right as far as you can and then to the left and back to position.

Repeat four times.

EXERCISE 31.-Waltz music. This exercise is good to strengthen the spine, back, legs, and arms, while limbering the hip joints at the same time.

Lying on the floor, face down, hands at sides :

Inhale and place the hands, palms down, on the floor on a level with the shoulders, elbows bent. (Figure 24.)

Lift the body from the floor, bracing with hands and feet. Count six.

Swing the hips in a circular motion, to the right, forward, left, and around. (Figure 25.) Count six.

Exhale and slowly lower the body to the floor.

Repeat four times.

EXERCISE 32.-Repeat exercise 31, lying on the back with knees drawn up and feet flat on the floor. Brace with the hands, palms down, and elbows bent.

EXERCISE 33. Music, a slow melody. The knee-chest position. This exercise is an important one and should be taken once or twice daily. It relieves all strain on the muscles which support the internal organs and gives them an opportunity to rest and regain their elasticity. It also relieves any organs of the weight and pressure of other organs which may have sagged and rest upon them, prohibiting normal function.

Lying on the floor, face down, hands at sides :

Draw arms up to a level with the shoulders and place them palms down upon the floor to bear the weight of the torso.

Draw the knees up toward the hips, lifting the torso; elevate the hips as high as you can raise them.

Inhale deeply, drawing the muscles of the abdomen in and up and extend the ribs at the sides with the indrawn breath. Pull, inwardly, giving the internal organs an upward lift.

Exhale slowly, relaxing all the muscles.

Repeat with each breath for five minutes.

Resume prone, position upon the floor and rest, perfectly relaxed.

EXERCISE 34.--SLOW rhythmic music.

Repeat exercise 33, and lift the body up from the floor, using the hands and feet. Stretch and arch the back upward, rising on the toes and straightening the legs.

Repeat several times before resting on the floor in the knee-chest position. Then repeat the whole exercise after a short rest with rhythmic breathing.

EXERCISE 35.--Music, a slow melody. The prone-hang position. This exercise is an excellent one for the strengthening and replacing of prolapsed internal organs. It permits the organs to rest and gives the muscles which support them an opportunity to shorten and regain their elasticity. It strengthens the supporting muscles of the viscera, back, and spine and relaxes the spinal vertebra, giving the cushions between them an opportunity to be relieved of the constant pressure from standing or sitting, and allows the blood and nerve currents to circulate freely. The exercise should be taken several times a day by all sufferers of prolapsed internal organs and always at night before retiring.

Select a couch or low bed, place a small flat pillow on the floor for your head and keep a watch or clock near. Five minutes at a time is sufficient with rest periods between.

(a) Lie face down on the edge of the couch and draw yourself forward onto the floor, with the hands, until your hips rest on the edge of the couch.

Rest the shoulders on the floor, hands under the chest, palms down. (Figure 27.)

Breathe deeply, drawing the muscles of the abdomen in and up with considerable power. Feel the pull way up inside. Feel the air fill the lungs at the sides, stretching the ribs out side-ways so that the organs will have more room to move up into their normal positions.

Repeat with each breath and breathe rhythmically, counting : Four counts to inhale, four counts to hold, and four to exhale.

This exercise should be done in bed just before going to sleep and without standing or sitting up again. Give the organs a chance to stay in their new or normal position without falling back.

(b) Assume the prone-hang position as in (a).

Inhale and lift the body up with the hands, stretching the neck at the same time, head face front. Count four.

Hold for a second, being sure that the spine is flexible and not curved in "sway-back" fashion. The action should come from the hip joints, and the legs should not be stiff.

Lower the body slowly and exhale. Repeat four times. EXERCISE 36.-Music in 2/4 time.

(a) Assume the prone-hang position.

Inhale and reach obliquely forward with the right hand, stretching with fingers, counting four.

At the same time stretch obliquely out and back with the right foot.

Feel the pull up the side in the entire length of the body back and front.

Exhale and back to position.

Relax and take a full breath and exhale.

(b) Repeat, stretching with the left hand and foot.

Relax for a full breath.

Alternate right and then left four times, stretching slowly but vigorously.

(c) Repeat, rotating the entire body, first stretching on one side and then on the other. Stretch with the fingers and toes one time and with the heels and palms the next.

Breathe rhythmically and remember always to relax for one full breath between movements.

EXERCISE 37.-Music in march time. This exercise is good for nearly everyone, as it gives the internal organs and the spine a complete change of position and a rest from the constant downward pressure of the upright position. It gives the supporting muscles of the internal organs an opportunity to regain their elasticity and to shrink to normal size. The blood and nerve circulations are immensely in-creased and all pressure from prolapsed organs is relieved.

Assume the knee-chest position as directed in exercise 33.

Lift the torso, supporting the body equally between hands and feet, in an arch. Keep the spine relaxed and walk about.

Do not feel any strain in the spine or neck, hold them gracefully and easily.

Take ten steps, then stop and rest a moment. After a little practice you will be able to take a fairly long walk in this position. Walk and breathe rhythmically with the music.

Learn to trot, run, and even pace, using the arm and foot of the right side at the same time.

Children have great fun doing these exercises. Grown-ups will find that it not only revitalizes them but keeps them much younger and agile.

Scrubbing floors, polishing floors, or doing any kind of work in the all-four position is good exercise. It is too often looked down upon and too little appreciated from a health standpoint.

EXERCISE 38.—Music, waltz or fox trot. This exercise is designed to employ muscles which are ordinarily little used. It should be taken daily.

Standing on all fours, inhale and hold. (Keep the spine flexible and the muscles of the abdomen in and up.)

Balance the weight on the left foot and both hands.

Stretch the right leg out and up, backward, stretching with the toes, counting six.

Resume position (all fours still) and exhale.

Repeat with the left leg, balancing on the right and both hands. Repeat, stretching with the heels.

Repeat, kicking.

Repeat, alternating and hopping on the foot which carries the weight.

EXERCISE 39 Music g time. This exercise is to limber the muscles and vertebrae of the neck and upper part of the spine. It will relieve the pressure on the cushions between the vertebra and promote the blood and nerve circulatory currents. The muscles of the neck and shoulders and the back of the head are all brought into play in an unusual way, and the muscles of the throat strengthened. It will also promote glandular function.

Lying on a couch or bed, flat on the back, allowing the head to extend beyond the edge, and to hang back and down perfectly relaxed, hands at sides or crossed on stomach :

Inhale slowly and hold.

Stretch the head out and upward, slowly pulling it forward and drawing the chin in to the throat. Count six. Feel the pull from the crown of the head, as though you were being pulled by a string, upward. Keep the body quietly flexible—not stiff. Exhale slowly and allow the head to relax and hang.

Repeat several times.

EXERCISE 40.-This exercise will relieve tension in the back of the neck and all pressure on the cushions between the vertebra and allow free circulation of the blood and nerve currents; it will also promote glandular function and mental control.

Lying on the couch face down, hands at sides, body flexible, relaxed :

Allow the head to extend over and beyond the edge of the couch and hang perfectly limp and relaxed.

Massage the back of the neck with the fingers and manipulate all the muscles from the bony part of the back of the head as far down the back and shoulders as you can reach. This will frequently relieve gas pressure in the stomach or intestines.

EXERCISE 41 Same position as in exercise 40.

Inhale and hold.

Lift the head and stretch the chin up, forward and back as far as you can. Count six.

Pull up and forward from the crown of the head, stretching all the muscles of the back of the neck, and draw the chin in, toward the throat. Count six.

Exhale and relax the head, allowing it to drop down and for-ward. This sudden drop will help to allow the vertebra to align themselves normally, the weight of the head doing it naturally and without injury.

Repeat several times, increasing the number of times as you grow stronger and gain control.

Repeat, stretching the head and neck obliquely up to the right and pull from the crown of the head obliquely down to the right.

Repeat, stretching the head and neck obliquely up to the left and pull from the crown of the head obliquely down to the left.

Repeat, stretching the head obliquely up to the right and pull obliquely down to the left; and vice versa.

EXERCISE 42.—Music 4/4 time. This exercise is a splendid spine stretcher and lubricator. It relieves spinal pressure and releases the cushions, the shoulder sockets, the hips, and feet. It promotes the various circulations of the body and stimulates the liver and gall.

(a) Lie prone upon a table, face down, grasping the upper edge of the table firmly with both hands. Relax the body thoroughly. Breathe rhythmically and quietly, without effort.

Slide back and down until the body is thoroughly stretched and the weight of the hips and legs have a decided pull upon the spine. Count twenty. (Figure 28.)

Pull the body forward, using the muscles of the arms and hands. Repeat several times.

(b) Position the same as (a).

Allow the body to slide down as far as you can and inhale; then

Lift the right leg out and back, stretching with the toes and rotating the body a little to the left side, stretching the right side.

Exhale slowly while rotating back to position.

Repeat with the left leg, stretching and rotating.



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