Relax your mind and muscles

27th April 2007 at 01:00
Stress and tension are part of your job, but you should take care of your body, and your Qi. A good massage could even improve your performance in class. Sara Bubb speaks from experience.

How are you breathing? If it feels a bit shallow, maybe your Qi (chi) is blocked. Your what? Qi is believed to be a kind of life force or spiritual energy, like a column of breath. Evidently my Qi was blocked in three places until I had a half-hour Chinese massage in Taiwan. What an experience.

The masseur pummelled, pressed, rubbed, clambered on top of me, knelt on my shoulder blades and lifted my legs and arms into unnatural positions. Pain quickly disarmed my natural instinct to laugh when a full-grown man stood balanced on my buttocks and then my calf, thighs and up and down my spine.

You should see the photos.

But, wow, not only had my persistent lower back and neck ache disappeared as soon as I crawled pink and dishevelled to my feet, but I was relaxed and noticeably breathing deeply. I never realised I slept badly until I savoured the most deep, delicious and refreshing rest I had that night and the weeks to follow. And evidently I no longer snore (as if I ever did).

I wanted to share this story because, if you're a typical teacher, you tend to worry about others and neglect yourself. You put up with feeling a bit below par because you think it's just to be expected, part of the ageing process, because you're tired and know lots of people who are worse off.

You don't have time to go to the doctor's and anyway, you aren't that poorly. Only when the symptoms disappear do you realise how bad you felt, how much effort it took to be bright and breezy. Life and work are so much easier when you're feeling fit.

Apologies to all science teachers but, having experienced its benefits first-hand, I am now beginning to wonder whether Chinese massage shouldn't be a part of every new teacher's induction programme. Reading up about it, I find it affects not only the physical body but also the Qi body (a network of channels and points) and the mental body (emotions, thoughts and spiritual faculties). That's just what we need. Teaching takes a lot out of you, especially at first, so look after your physical, mental and spiritual health while I speak to someone at the Training and Development Agency for Schools Sara Bubb is an education consultant who specialises in induction.

Sheanswers questions on our forums at

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