In the last interview I did with Steve, he told me that people come to see him not only to get fit, but for his attitude on life. Due to the popularity of the first interview, I'm inclined to believe that people see him much more for spiritual guidance than physical guidance.
For those that don't know Steve, he is a physical educator. He conducts seminars all over the world on mobility, balance, strength and conditioning, and Jiu Jitsu. He is known for being one of the first people to introduce America to the kettle bell. He's also known for having a unique perspective on fitness that focuses more on functional movements over aesthetics and well-being over performance.
When I re-read the first interview, I had a few followup questions. Those followup questions turned into an hour-long conversation.
Please check out the first interview here. We spoke about his beginnings in the fitness industry, his minimalist lifestyle, self discipline, using exercise as meditation, and how faces his doubts and fears.
In this part of the interview, we spoke about Steve's experience with Taoist yoga and his views on Chi.
And please take a look at the t-shirt that the great artist, Ted Park, and us designed for Mr. Maxwell. Admittedly, I do feel like I'm trying to capitalize on Mr. Maxwell's audience, however, by buying, you will be supporting this site and Steve.
Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy this interview. And get as much out of it as I did.
Here's the music I listened to while editing:
Last time we spoke, you told me about Pranayama breathing. You said that "it’s done through the manipulation of the breath, but it’s not through breathing itself. It’s what happens between the breaths." What did you mean when you said that it's what happens between the breaths?
It’s not the act of breathing itself. It’s what happens when you take oxygen into your body. That’s Pranayama. People call it Chi. It’s basically the same thing. It’s the life force that you take in every time you breathe. You are actually taking in atoms from the Universe.
And every time you exhale, you’re exhaling atoms out.
You’re connected to the Universe with every breath you take. We all share the same air. I’m breathing in electrons and atoms that you exhale and you’re breathing in mine. We’re sharing energy every breath you take.
There’s this idea that we’re isolated individuals. We’re all absolutely interconnected. And that’s basically what breathing is.
That’s what I meant when I said, "it’s what happens between the breaths."
In some way you’re literally breathing in another person because a person is just a bunch of protons and electrons.
That’s right. We’re just a bunch of energy. We’re just a bunch of molecules. We’re swapping electrons all of the time.
That happens when we breathe, especially when you’re in the same room with other people.
Have you ever had the experience of being in a room and someone comes in a bad mood? All of a sudden the whole room gets somber. Now that’s energy. That negative energy brought everyone else’s energy down a little bit.
I’m sure you’ve had the other experience where someone walks into a room, and the whole room lights up.
That’s going on everyday whether people are aware of it or not.
Your mood projects energy also. There are some people that can see auras. They can see energy around you. They can feel it. They’re very sensitive. Sounds kind of airy, fairy. But I’ve experienced it.
"This guy was projecting his Chi, and it felt literally like a breeze."
When I first became aware of Chi, I was teaching Jiu-Jitsu at the Tropicana Casino. I used to go down there with a friend of mine and we would do an executive Jiu Jitsu class every Friday for the CEO of Tropicana International and his management team. This guy was a Chuck Norris black belt. They all had been doing martial arts for a while. They absolutely loved it.
To make a long story short, there were two Chinese guys who used to do chair massage and reflexology. They used to go out into the hallway outside of their room in the hotel and do Chi Gong. My buddy and I were pretty sensitive, since we had been doing martial arts for a long time. We walked by them from a hallway adjacent to theirs. It was a muggy day. There was no air conditioning down there. And there was no door open; there was no window. It was in the basement. When we walked by them, we got hit by this breeze.
I look at my friend, and he looks at me. We turn around, and we walk back [laughs]. And we got hit by a second breeze.
That was freaky. Those guys was projecting energy.
I have been aware of this type of thing, but I have never experienced it.
This guy was projecting his Chi, and it felt literally like a breeze.
"You don’t have to spend your life studying Chi Gong to benefit from the movement patterns, particularly some of the massage points and the tapping."
Did you study Chi Gong?
I have never formerly studied it, but I’ve worked with people who have, and they showed me a lot of movements that I've added into my morning routine that are pretty simple to do.
You can get really deep with it. But you don’t have to spend your life studying Chi Gong to benefit from the movement patterns, particularly some of the massage points and the tapping.
I have travelled throughout Asia. I’ve been to China several times and Taiwan. I watch people in the park. A couple of times I would jump in, and I would just follow what they do. They love it when you do that.
There’s another form of Chi Gong, some people refer to it as Taoist Yoga. I have taken formal lessons from a Taoist Yoga master. Interestingly enough, it was in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The guy used to be in the park everyday. I would just go and watch. He couldn’t really speak more than one or two words of English. But I would just follow him through his routine. He really liked it. He would stop his own practice and come over and correct my positions. I did that every day for the whole time I was there. I picked up a lot of really good exercises.
I had no idea what those movements meant, but I have a pretty good idea just based on things I’ve seen before. They make me feel quite wonderful. Even to this day I practice many things that Nikolai showed me in that park in Saint Petersburg.
I take what’s useful, and discard the rest.
If you enjoyed this interview, try out my interview with Dr. Stephen Liben, palliative care physician.
In other words, he works with children who have terminal illnesses. His perspective on life and his work is deeply influenced by Buddhism. And that was the main subject of this interview.
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