Perhaps much like the folktale of the tortoise and the hare, it is the slow, steady movement that may help win the race or at least keep you in the running. I am not suggesting to throw in the towel on your regular aerobic, sweat-producing exercise regimen – certainly not! But, some studies are showing the gentle movements in several techniques like yoga and tai chi or even no movement at all like in meditation can have huge positive impacts for our health, too.
Meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga have both psychological and physical health benefits that may offer a nice balance and be equally as important as rigorous exercise. Conducted in nine countries, the study reviewed these four techniques and saw a measurable reduction in inflammation measures of participants – a very good thing! Another study shows these techniques also produced immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, our metabolism, and insulin secretion. I was intrigued so looked into these four techniques a bit more. Come take a look!
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF MIND-BODY TECHNIQUES
Here are the four body-mind techniques listed in the study with some descriptions and links for more information or tools that may help you get started in case you want to consider incorporating them into your life:
You are probably familiar with what meditation is about as it has been practiced by many cultures throughout time. It usually involves an attempt to clear the mind and self-regulate it in some way. It may be done sitting or in an active way as many Buddhist monks evolve to do as a form of mind-training. It typically uses deep slow breathing to relax the heart rate, muscles, and mind.
There are many instructional CDs, classes and gurus to teach you. Here is a great start to guide you through meditation.
What It Could Do For You: If you choose to meditate regularly, besides the benefits listed in the studies, here are some additional possible health benefits:
- creation of stress management skills
- reduction of negative emotions and anxiety
- increased focus and self-awareness
- reduced blood pressure
- better sleep
2. Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. It is a low impact and graceful form of exercise involving a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion. Tap here for an introduction.
Tai chi has many different styles with its own subtle emphasis on various tai chi principles and methods. Some may focus on health maintenance while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.
What It Could Do For You: If you choose to practice tai chi regularly, besides the benefits listed in the studies, here are some additional possible health benefits:
- better balance
- greater muscle strength
- more flexibility
- improved concentration
Qigong originating from China as well is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and mental focus. It gets a bit tricky to figure out the difference between tai chi and qigong for me. But, there is loads of information on that here. It appears that qigong places more emphasis on healing than the martial arts aspect. There are even particular qigong methods for helping those with cancer or other issues for example. Here is a good place to find more resources on this technique.
Here is a video showing what tai chi and qigong are all about.
What It Could Do For You: If you choose to practice qigong regularly, besides the benefits listed in the studies, here are some additional possible health benefits:
- more relaxation
- sharper mind
- better balance
- lower blood pressure
- better mood and less stress
Yoga is an umbrella term as there are numerous styles and combinations of them to stretch and strengthen your way to better health. Yoga studios are everywhere and a popular form of exercise and stress management for many. To practice at home, this is a popular and effective guide to make sure you are positioning your yoga poses correctly and do not injure yourself.
What It Could Do For You: If you choose to practice yoga regularly, besides the benefits listed in the studies, here are some additional possible health benefits:
- improved flexibility
- greater muscle strength
- better posture
- stronger bone health
- increased circulation
- better stress management
FOR EVEN MORE ON THE TOPIC. . .
- Balance your health with proper sleep and here is what studies say how much sleep you need each night.
- No need to break the bank! Create an easy home exercise and yoga spot with these easy steps.
If we really consider how we learn in the modern world, we realize that despite all our emphasis on education, our education is one- sided and shallow. We may learn to memorize equations and facts, but we do not really learn to understand and develop our own inner life. Our minds remain scattered and our emotions persist as negative, conflicting forces. We are able to use only a small portion of our mental abilities, because we are preoccupied with confusion, fear, and inner conflict. Meditation helps us to overcome these limitations; it helps us to become aware of the subtler and more positive powers within. In gaining this awareness, we become creative and dynamic. Abilities such as intuition, which many consider unusual or rare, are actually within the potential of all human beings who meditate. Such gifts are available to those who make contact with the deeper aspects within themselves.