Looking for a new way to de-stress and exercise at the same time? If so, we’ll let you in on a secret: Yu Hezu.
Yu Hezu, also known as bamboo wand, is a term coined by mom of three, Mawi Fojas-de Ocampo, who is making the exercise available as a fitness class here in Manila. It involves meditative-like movements done with a light 4-foot bamboo stick.
Mawi derived the term from “Yùhé Zhú,” which literally translates to “the healing bamboo” in Chinese. According to Mawi, the practice was devised for and kept secret by a Chinese royal family thousands of years ago. It was used by the royals to prevent illness and slow down the aging process.
So what’s Yu Hezu like? At the heart of Yu Hezu is balance, with the movements utilizing a pyramid effect where the two ends of the bamboo wand serve as two points and the individual as the third. It is very much meditative in nature, and the the combination of slow, deliberate and controlled movements and breathing develops strength, balance and control.
The movements come from observing animals you have moves with names like “Stretching the Crane” and “Twitching the Dragon’s Tail.” A total of 17 moves can be mastered, which are all gentle but intense. “The moves aim to exercise every muscle in the body while promoting efficient blood circulation,” says Mawi.
Mawi’s love for meditative exercises started all the way back from her childhood. She was introduced to yoga by her parents and their family’s meditation and yoga guru, Salliji or Tita Sally, when Mawi was just 6 years old.
“My older sister and I used to tag along to these yoga and meditation classes where each couple or family would take turns hosting. Being very flexible at that age, we would demo the poses for the adults and soon enough we perfected the yoga poses.”
She learned Yu Hezu from Salliji who taught the meditative practice to Mawi seven years ago when she was already in her 80s. “With their doctor's consent, the elderly can really practice this because it is gentle and has low impact.”
Mawi, whose kids are 20, 17, and 15 years old, swears that she has gained personal and health benefits from the practice, calling Yu Hezu her refuge when she was still in the corporate world.
“It gave my body such a wonderful stretch that I never felt when going to the gym for the usual workout. It relaxes you while performing physical fitness. I also loved it because it actually relieved me of the chronic back pain I was suffering from. I felt such relief whenever I would practice the bamboo wand regularly (two to three times a week). This is why I consider this a gift and I would love to share this gift with others,” she said.
Yu Hezu classes are held regularly by Mawi at SouLove Center in Sucat, Muntinlupa. For inquiries on class schedules, contact 0917-701-7593. You can also follow class schedules and updates through the SouLove's Facebook page, and the Yu Hezu Facebook page and Instagram account.