[Interview] 108 Bows for Exercise: Oriental Doctor, Kim Jaeseong
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We would all like to have mental and physical peace. However, it’s not easy. In reality, most people need to exercise to stay healthy.
Specialists advise that to stay healthy, you have to exercise until soaked with sweat at least three times a week. How many people follow this advice? One survey says that only 8.6% of adults exercise like that. If you consider your physical health as important as your mental health, then pay attention to oriental doctor Kim Jaeseong’s recommendation of "108 bows for exercise."
Doctor Kim insists that 108 bows should become "the second national exercise". He believes that anyone can learn and do bowing easily, and at the same time the effect of bowing is great.
The way you do bowing in temples is touching five points of your body to the floor. They are: both knees, both elbows, and the forehead.
"108 bows for exercise is just the thing for us. It’s exercise for the whole body, low intensity breathing exercise, and it’s exercise which is suitable for treating and preventing adult diseases. It takes only 15 minutes to do 108 bows, but the effect is great.
You can do it whenever and wherever you want."
It was four years ago that he started doing 108 bows.
It was after he heard about his apparently healthy friend who had collapsed from some disease, then recovered his health in three months after he started doing 108 bows.
It was hard to believe at first.
He felt like rejecting 108 bows since he is Catholic.
But at the time he wasn’t feeling very well, so he decided to begin 108 bows, half in doubt. However, the effects showed up right away.
"Usually it was hard to wake up in the morning, but in a week I could greet mornings without effort. In two weeks my urine got clear and strong. In two months my thin hair got very thick. My chronic back pain that I got from bending over while treating patients with acupuncture disappeared without a trace."
Since he experienced these effects, Doctor Kim actively started recommending 108 bows to his family, relatives, and acquaintances. The reaction has been great. Doctor Kim studied how to bow while collecting documents related to 108 bows.
He wanted to make motions to increase the exercise effect to the utmost. He considered the fact that Buddhist bowing could impact the knee joints. He made "108 bows for exercise" after research and making up for weak points. The effect of 108-bow exercise has been proven scientifically. In May 2004, the Oriental Hospital in Gangnam affiliated with Dongguk University checked people who were in their 30’s and 40’s, two people each, before and after a 108-bow practice period. The results showed that good cholesterol, which prevents hardening of the arteries, increased. Immunity indicators also increased. Also, Cotijol, which is the main stress hormone causing abdominal obesity, was greatly reduced. Among the people who participated in the experiment, the ones who did 108 bows had better effects. Doctor Kim emphasized that the excellency of 108 bows is that it’s good for mental health, too.
He said that while you are putting your hands together in front of your chest, going down on your knees, and bending your head, you can reflect on yourself with inner tranquility and an open mind.
The Way to do 108 Bows for exercise
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while putting your palms together in front of your chest.
2. Drop your arms straight down, then slowly raise them straight up, until your arms are farther back than your head.
3. Lower your arms forward while bending at the waist, until your body is parallel to the floor and your arms are hanging straight down.
4. Bend your knees to a squatting position, with your hands on the floor in front of you.
5. Bend your knees to the floor and touch your elbows and forehead to the floor. At this time, the bottom of your toes remain on the floor, and your heels stick straight up.
6. Push your body up until your arms are straight, straighten your waist, then stand up with the power of your legs, and finally put your palms together in front of your chest again.
He also said that there have been many changes since he started 108 bows for exercise with his family.
"My family, who used to sleep late in the morning, became morning people and started each day actively. My kids used to be tired all the time from studying, but they slowly recovered, and they became bright and positive. Their concentration ability for studying increased, and they entered university without much problem. My relationships with my whole family are getting much better. Especially when I have to give my kids some kind of punishment, I try to solve the situation by doing 108 bows together with them instead of yelling at them or giving punishment.”
At present there are many people who have fallen under the charm of 108 bows. They are mostly Buddhists, but there are quite a few Christians and people who don’t believe in any particular religion. A Korean classical musician, Kim Yeongdong, has taken the lead to spread 108 bows as a social and cultural movement. He published the album "The Sound of Life," which helps people do 108 bows. His album harmonizes sounds of nature, like water, birds, raindrops, and others, and the sounds of a large flute and a short bamboo flute. You can do 108 bows while listening to 108 writings recorded on the album. He hopes that he can let the world know the benefits by having tens of thousands of people bowing all together at Gwanghwamun District in Seoul. These two questions, "How many times do I have to bow?", and "Isn’t bowing bad for your knee joints?", are the ones Doctor Kim hears the most from people. "The important matter is to make my body and mind healthy and peaceful through bowing exercise. Then the number doesn’t matter if it is 108, 107, or 109. Training mind and body is necessary for every one, regardless of religion. In addition, 108 bows exercise that I recommend doesn’t give any excessive pressure to your knees. Rather, it strengthens knee muscles. Doctor Kim said that spreading 108-bow exercise is like his destiny.
"Everyone, start bowing right away. It’s better if you bow with a smile on your face. You will feel happiness and peace well up in your heart, like fresh and clear spring water.”
Doctor Kim has written and published the book 108 Bows a Day: the Ten Minute Miracle Saving My Body.