With the ‘Mini Beast’ bringing fresh snow warnings for the UK this weekend, it seems we’re not out of the woods yet where Winter 2018 is concerned. That’s fine by me because I’ve just discovered haramaki, the traditional Japanese core warmer.
Haramaki means “belly warmer” and is the modern manifestation of a form of armour worn by samurai in Japan. As you can see from the above photograph, it’s basically a stretchy tube which fits around your waist. Think boob tube but for your belly. I’m not selling this to you, am I. I’ll try harder.
In Oriental medicine, the kidneys are seen as the organs that store our vital core energy (ki, qi, chi), and they are quite vulnerable to cold. Wearing a core warmer helps to preserve heat thus supporting your immune system in warding off winter colds and flu. Take a look at the thermo image below (click for a larger version) which shows the impact on body heat retention of wearing a haramaki versus other forms of clothing or covering…
Aside from keeping the body warm, the other key benefits of wearing a haramaki are:
- improved digestion
- improved blood circulation,
- support to the lower back,
- relief from menstrual cramps.
I bought two haramaki from a Brighton-based business, NukuNuku (the name means “warm and cosy” in Japanese) – a thin cotton, Lycra one, which I tend to wear next to my skin, and a thicker, woolly one with bamboo fibres, which I wear outside of my clothes and under my coat.
What I like about them is they keep me warm without the need for lots of bulky layers. The thin, cotton haramaki is great when I’m teaching Pilates – avoids me exposing bits of bare flesh when I’m performing the exercises. The thicker one has proved essential in helping me warm up quickly after swimming.
When I resume open water swimming in Spring, I’m sure they’ll be invaluable in helping me recover from exposure to the cold water. In fact I plan to wear both at the same time…not while swimming obviously(!)
Here’s another favourite Japanese export. I am definitely ninja (not geisha)…