How Zone exercises can enhance your current workout program and improve your life overall

Zone-chakra-classZone exercises are all about working with your breath while moving slowly and consciously through particular exercises that are designed to balance and deliver energy to your hormonal and organ system, as well as to the muscle and connective tissues related to the spinal segments of each Zone.

There are 6 Zones; they are stacked up along the spine with Zone 1 being the base and Zone 6 being the top – your head area.

There is also a Zone 7, which I will disregard for this particular article because there are no physical exercises in the CHEK system to move through. Zone 7 relates to spiritual development of a person.

This system is the foundation not just for the CHEK zone exercised but for Yoga, Tai chi and Qigong too.

The Zones are not only associated with our physical health, they also relate to aspects connected to our emotional, mental and belief system.


What I like about the Zone exercises is that they integrate mind and body, both of which affect each other. Studies have shown that emotional tension is held in different areas of the body depending on what they relate to. Some people carry their tension in their shoulders others in their lower back.

Zone related movements can help release and balance tensions a person holds, which in turn means that you can also affect your posture in a positive way by practicing Zone exercises.

You do not have to understand how it works or believe in the approach for it to work. If you prefer to just see this as a gentle exercise routine you will still experience great benefits as you practice with consciousness and awareness of how your body responds to each movement. It is about being in the moment, getting to know your body and listening to how it feels.

If you are not ready for traditional, sitting still meditation, you might find the Zone exercises are a good intermediate step on your way to integrating more mindfulness into your life without causing yourself the emotional stress that the thought of still meditation might trigger for you.

Sometimes, we are just not ready for something that we desperately need to grow as a person. There is no point in pushing yourself, wait until you are ready; use alternative options to coax yourself to where you want or need to be. Life, health and wellbeing is a process – not an instant reward for one action.


What if you are not ready to slow down?

I knew for years that I needed to slow down and exercise less. I am sure if someone had told me during my most intense, self destructive phase to meditate I would have dismissed it as a joke. When I was finally ready to embark on something more mind body orientated I started with movement meditation by practicing Tai chi qigong shibashi.

Eventually I was ready for the next level of guided meditation. When I reaped the benefits of feeling much better and my Ankylosing Spondylitis pain reducing day by day I thought – “why did I not do this sooner?”. Then I pulled the handbrake, there was no point in feeling bad about not having been ready earlier. I had to go my way step by step to arrive at the point when I did. There wouldn’t have been a short cut, unless you would have knocked me out and forced me to meditate  – in which case it wouldn’t have worked anyway.

What I am trying to say; if you are not ready – “that’s ok”. When you are ready in the future, what ever it is that will bring you to the next level will be there waiting for you. Be kind to yourself. It will all come together in the end.


Reconnecting mind and body for a better life

Our body is very clever and it loves communicating how it gets on with our choices and actions. It is us who have forgotten to listen and to understand what those messages mean. In a distant past, when we lived more intuitively and in harmony with nature we would have automatically responded to our bodies messages and taken action. Say our body is asking for food; previously we would have gone out to hunt and gather what we needed. Now we may feel hungry and not even respond to the signal because we are too busy with work or too frightened we could gain weight.

Another curious thing that happens now is that people feel exhausted physically and/ or mentally but instead of taking time to recover and energise, they drag themselves to a beastie boot-camp at the gym with the belief that this will make them feel more alive. The contrary is usually the case. Once you are low in energy conventional exercise will just add to the insult.

We need to work with our body, not against it if we want to enjoy living in it. It is like a good friend that you do not want to fall out with. When any relationship, be it with yourself or another being, is not working it causes us stress that we do not need. I feel stress tarnishes the experience of life and should be minimised by choice. You have the power to make choices that support a harmonious life each and every day.

I have experienced with my own chronic pain condition (AS) that the choices I make affect how I feel and how much the pain will manifest. Accepting my condition and the fact that it is in my own hands to change the situation I am in has played a huge part in my body becoming pain free and much more flexible and supple in my movements. I decided to work with my body and my mind, to do everything in my power to be relaxed and promote healing. To strengthen my mind and physical structures to better cope with what life throws at me. I now live as consciously as possible. To not loose sight of what is important to me I regularly read and listen to inspiring information that helps me stay aware of my new found mind body connection.

Living consciously is not airy-fairy – it is a choice that anyone can benefit from, see it as tuning your life for better performance on all levels. You will be amazed how far reaching the integration of mind and body can be.


Pumping your Chi

With slow movement such as the ones used in the Zone exercises or in forms of Tai chi with cause gentle alternation between muscle contraction and relaxation, which is essential to pumping blood rich in nutrients and oxygen to every cell in your body, you could look at your nutrient rich blood as Chi flowing through you body. Lack of regular movement makes the body stagnant and the cells and organs unhealthy as they rely on good circulation to stay fully functioning.


How to get the best out of your Zone exercises

Using Zone exercises to bring up your energy and vitality is a very easy and non-stressful way of dealing with an overly stressed mind and/ or body. You don’t have to do complicated ancient martial arts or knotty yoga to do mind body practice. Luckily there is a large variety of mind body practices to chose from. Zone exercises on first sight look like traditional exercises but they are much more powerful when performed slowly with your breath.

When I work with clients, I start with a thorough intake assessment that helps me establish which Zones a particular client will benefit from. My advise for the stressed and exhausted is always to focus on good nourishment with natural food sources, deep breathing and Zone exercises as a first choice before embarking on a strenuous exercise regime.

For someone that is only moderately stressed and has a good level of energy on a day to day basis can get the most out of their workouts when they combine them with the Zone exercises that can also be called work-in exercises. They will move more rapidly toward physical, emotional mental and spiritual wellbeing than when they would exclusively expend vast amounts of energy and chi through intense workouts.

If you feel you need to do some formal exercises on your rest days try incorporating the Zone exercises in your recovery schedule.

Each Zone has several exercises; you will find that some suit you better than others. A good exercise is one that you actually enjoy and perform. The best exercise in the world cannot help you if you do not feel like doing it.


How do you know you are building energy

Zone exercise should never leave you fatigued or drained of energy no matter how many repetitions you perform.

Your breathing pace dictates the speed of the movement you execute.

You should park your tongue in the roof of the mouth, this helps you to stay focused as it touches the point that closes the energy circle.

You should practice Zone exercises barefoot where possible to avoid restriction where it is not necessary.

None of the exercises should hurt, if they do they will not help build energy as pain causes the body stress and in this case you are trying to soothe the body to feel less stressed. To initiate more effective healing responses, direct positive intention and thoughts to the Zone area you are working on.

A good guide for self monitoring whether you are building energy or expending it is to pay attention to your heart rate – if it speeds up you are expending more energy than you are generating.

The same applies to your breath, when it becomes more rapid and you feel you cannot get enough of it you are causing your body stress which zaps your energy stores.

Another little sign is when you cannot supply your body with oxygen through your nose exclusively; you are working-out rather than in. An open mouth also changes your postural alignment out of the ideal position.

You should be able to perform any Zone exercises comfortably after a meal, when you work out hard, your body stops digestion and takes all blood to supply the working muscles when you move slow enough your body will be happy to continue the digestive process as well as move around. In fact when you get the intensity right, you will feel that your digestion is improved rather than compromised.

Movement can stimulate peristalsis which is the automatic action of the intestinal wall that creates wave-like movements that push the digested food toward the exit.


Real energy instead of fake boosts

When you are trying to cut down on addictive substances such as sugar and caffeine you can use Zone exercises to generate real energy to compensate for the missing fake, empty energy that these substances used to provide short term.



Unwinding for bed time

If you have a hard time calming your monkey mind and unwinding from a stressful day at the office, try using the Zone exercises as part of your pre-bed routine that will teach your body that it is time to go to sleep. The interesting thing is that Chi does for you exactly what you need at the time when you generate it. It can slow you down or make you more lively or energised.

Paul Chek says: “The faster you move your body, the slower Chi energy moves and the slower you move your body, the faster the Chi energy moves.”

Try it for yourself – you will quickly realise this interesting statement is true.


Zone 1- the base or root

Have a look at this nice video that Danny Maresca has made to demonstrate the exercises for Zone 1.

On a physical level Zone 1 relates to the large intestine, pelvis, legs and feet, it works on the spinal level of the sacrum and the lumbar vertebra L5. One dysfunction that can be addressed by practicing Zone 1 is Osteoarthritis.

The glandular functions that relate to Zone 1 are your fight or flight response and your adrenal gland which is responsible for producing your stress hormone cortisol (which when not produced on a constant basis is your get up and go hormone). Overusing this function by having excessive stress in your life can make the response weak and make you feel sluggish. This zone also relates to your bones and skeletal structure, which is the base of your frame.

On a mental emotional level this zone addresses feelings related to safety and security, which can be associated with financial stress, the longing for survival, taking care of your physical needs and being able to be part of a tribe. People that feel mental lethargy, spaciness or feel unable to experience inner stillness could try these exercises to rebalance.

Whether you are aware of personal issues related to any of the associated issues or not you will benefit from the effects the particular movements have. Sometimes we find it hard to acknowledge that we have an issue be it mental, emotional or physical or all of them since they are related whether we like it or not. It is important to not apportion blame to yourself or others while exploring possible triggers for physical or mental emotional problems we may experience. I recommend acknowledging that there is something not right and addressing it with positivity and bettering choices rather than wasting time and energy apportioning blame and feeling negative.


You can use affirmations enhance your Zone 1 Practice:

  • My body is important to me. I nurture it constantly.
  • I am taking responsibility for my life. I can cope with any situation.
  • I recognise the abundance of love, trust and care surrounding me.
  • My internal mother is always here for me, protecting, nourishing and soothing me.
  • I deserve the best that life has to offer. My needs are always met.
  • I am connected to Mother Earth and know the security of being grounded in reality, in the moment.


These affirmations are from: The book of Chakra Healing by Liz Simpson.


You can also write your own affirmation, the only thing you need to regard is to use present tense in your wording. You say what ever you need or want as if it is already happening.

Saying “I will…” or “I could…” or “I should…” won’t have the positive effect an affirmation can have.

Try something like: “I am…” or “I deserve…”,  “I can…” or “I trust…”


The best way to find out if and how the Zone exercises can enhance your life is by trying them out. Do you live in or near Leeds in West Yorkshire and want to try working-in for yourself? Join the new Friday morning 10am Zone class at the Heart Centre in Headingley.

I look forward to supporting you in your exploration of Zone exercising.

Did I leave you with any unanswered questions? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.
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