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Tapping Into the Colors of Nature's Sensational Medicine for Healthy Cycling

By Kimberly Burnham, PhD, Guest Contributor and Author of the upcoming Book Bicycling for Food

How color therapy can benefit those riding on the road, working out on a turbo trainer or spinning bike

Tapping into the benefits of color therapy is a great way to increase the healthy outcomes you get from bicycling. Here are some things you can do whether you are riding outside in a natural environment or training indoors with a virtual reality ride video playing, like the ones available from Ride Fit™. Either way consciously paying attention to color can increase your enjoyment of your training sessions and have a positive effect on your vision, brain health and mood.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes acupuncture, acupressure, herbs and exercises, practitioners talk about five elements and the colors associated with your organ health and the meridians in your arms and legs.

Here is how you can use this information on your ride.

Noticing the Green of Wood

Green is associated with the Wood elements: the Liver and the Gallbladder.

As you ride pay attention to the color green around you both natural elements and those that are man-made. How many different things can you see that are green? What is the sensation you experience as green hits your eyes?

In Chinese Medicine this kind of attention to your surroundings improves your relationship and connection with your environment and in so doing is thought to improve your liver and gallbladder health.

Another way to look at this is to notice, and this is often very subtle, how your choice of clothing influences how you feel on the ride. At the end of a ride do you feel better if you wear a green jersey or a yellow one? Is there a difference? Often the feelings can be different on different days. What influence do you feel if the color of your shorts or pants, which cover your legs and the liver and gallbladder meridians that run along the inner (liver) and outer side (gallbladder) of each leg? Consciously check in with yourself as you dress for your next ride and see what colors appeal to you the most.

Consider the texture or material that you are seeing as you ride. How many different kinds of trees or plants can you see? Notice how a tree is not all the same color or texture. Notice the roughness of the bark and the different shades of green, white, brown, black in one small area of a tree.

Enhancing Growth and Vitality

The Wood elements are also associated with growth and vitality. Look around as you ride. What do you see that represents growth and vitality to you? Are those things green or some other color?

If you want to bring more growth and vitality into your liver, your gallbladder, or your life, pay attention to the color green. You may be wondering if this works even if you have had your gallbladder removed. Sensational Medicine, noticing the healing benefits of your sensations, is about energy so it works whether you have gallbladder or not.

White Metal Fueling Muscles

The Metal elements: Lungs and Large Intestine are associated with the color white and silver.

For cyclist these are key organs as the lungs bring in oxygen to fuel your muscles and large intestine health influences the mobility of the hips and pelvis. These two meridian run along the inner and outer edges of your arms.

As you ride does it change anything if you visualize a flow of white energy from your lungs to your finger tips? Then let the white light circulate around your core, chest and abdomen before fueling your legs with power?

The metal elements are also associated with clarity and precision. Focus for a few minutes on the precision of your pedaling. The evenness of the strokes. If you breathe a little deeper in and out are you able to focus with more clarity on your movements?

Yellow Earth Speeding Recovery

The stomach, spleen and pancreas are the Yellow Earth elements. What do you see in your environment that is yellow. The Earth elements are also associated with three organ system: the lymphatic system, the digestive system and the muscle system.

Each is vital to cyclists. The flow through the lymph system allows us to recover from injuries more quickly, decreasing swelling and inflammation after an injury. The digestive system of course provides nutrients to fuel our activity, while our muscle allow us to move and create in the world.

Specifically associated with the Earth elements are two muscles, the latissimus dorsi and the pectoralis major. Latissimus dorsi pulls your shoulders back and helps you lift your arm. It is one of the rotator cuff muscles, while pectoralis major pulls the shoulder forward and stabilities the ball and socket as you move your arm.

An exercise you can do while on an indoor bike or before riding outside is to place one hand on top of your head and quickly move the opposite shoulder forward and back ten times, then reverse and put the other hand on top of your head. This exercise is designed to cause the muscles of the shoulders to rhythmically contract and relax, creating a pumping action that improves the flow of lymph, blood and fluids to and from the head and arms and the rest of the body.

Fiery Red

Red is the color of the Fire elements. There are four Fire elements, which are associated with passion and high energy. The heart, of course, and the pericardium (the connective tissue around and protecting the heart). The small intestine absorbing the fire in your food. What red foods have you eaten today? The fourth Fire element is called the Triple Warmer and is not an organ but represents the endocrine and hormonally related systems.

As you are riding, what do you see that is red? How many shades of red do you see? Red is the easiest to see and fastest color to reach our eyes, which is why stop signs and brake lights are red.

Healthy Fire elements speed up recovery and slow down degeneration. Visualize the red of iron ore in Red Rock country, oxygen rich red blood cells, a shiny apple, plump tomatoes, the reddish tint of organic kale, or a red light turning green. Let the red in your environment nourish your passion.

The Ease and Abundance of Blue Water

The final Element, Water is predictably Blue. Imagine the ease and abundance of flow in a wide river. Now imagine the flow of fluids within your body orchestrated by the kidneys and bladder.

How blue is the sky as you ride? Do you see any blue birds? The people around you, are any of them wearing blue, the color of kidney and bladder healing?

Imagine the color blue circulating through your mid and low back area, the physical location of the kidneys and bladder.

Noticing All the Colors Around You

Look around at the scenery. Are you seeing it differently after consciously considering each of these colors? Are the greens brighter? Do you notice more white? How does it feel to look at the yellow earth tones around you? Does the red make you smile? Do you feel calmer just by noticing the blue?

About Kimberly Burnham, PhD (Integrative Medicine)

Known as The Nerve Whisperer, Kimberly Burnham is the developer of Sensational Medicine (www.KimberlyBurnhamPhD.com). An ophthalmologist told Kim, a 28 year-old professional photographer that she may become blind. "There is nothing you can do because it is genetic," he said. Through alternative medicine approaches she has recovered her eyesight and at 55 sees better than ever. Summer 2013, she will bicycle 3300 miles across the US with Hazon, a sustainable food non-profit. Follow her at http://hazon.kintera.org/2013usa/kimberlyburnham. Please donate.

Tags: Color Therapy, Sensational Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Visualization, Bicyclist, Indoor Cycling, Virtual Reality Ride.