What is Mind/Body exercises and how will it benefit me
More than 18 million Americans practice yoga and/or Tai Chi, while some 10.5 million Americans perform Pilates. Why has this format of exercise boomed? Some speculate that ever-rising stress levels from work, family and other obligations have fueled the need for a calming activity that also provides health and fitness benefits.
So what is mind/body exercise? People define this practice in many ways. For some individuals, creating a kinesthetic awareness (understanding where your body is in space during movement) is sufficient enough. However, for others, a spiritual component is important. In these formats, spirituality does not equate to religion but the gaining of a deeper level of consciousness. A number of experts believe that while some participants may enjoy the physical benefits of the movements immediately, they may not reach the spiritual elements for some time. Mind/body exercise is an excellent way to observe gains in your fitness level as well as your mental health. When trying a new mind/body class, be open to new experiences and give your mind and body a chance to enjoy the exercises.
Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates method, began developing his exercise system in Germany in the early 1900s. After immigrating to the United States in 1926, he opened the first official Pilates Studio® in New York City. The aim of the Pilates method is to produce integrated movement of the body as a whole, working from the core to create stability, and progressing to the periphery or extremities to enhance mobility. In Pilates, the core is defined as the “powerhouse,” which consists of the abdomen, buttocks, thighs and lower back. Originally embraced by the dance world, the Pilates method is now practiced by athletes and the general population. The benefits of Pilates are purported to include increased kinesthetic awareness, improved posture, stability and coordination, as well as enhanced balance, flexibility and strength.
Yoga is a very popular activity within the fitness industry. Yoga translates as “yoke” or “union,” describing the integration of mind and body. The practice of yoga is a beneficial form of relaxation therapy and it has also been found to support positive lifestyle changes that may decrease coronary artery disease risk factors. There are many forms of yoga, but the most popular of the disciplines in the United States is hatha yoga, which focuses on asanas (postures) and breathing. Hatha yoga formats range from very vigorous, such as ashtanga yoga, to more gentle and meditative forms. You do not have to be extremely flexible to participate in a yoga class, and props such as blankets, straps and blocks may be used to assist you in the asanas.
Ancient Chinese tradition of slow controlled flowing movements are done w/ mental focus to improve energy and blood flow, relaxation, balance, physical strength, posture, physical and mental health. The genius of the Tai Chi method is that it combines traditional Chinese martial arts exercises with meditation. This combination creates a system of practice that has many health benefits, including stress reduction and improved cardiovascular and immune system function. Moreover, Tai Chi is among the foremost exercise interventions recommended for fall prevention in seniors. The three essential practices of Tai Chi are meditation, martial arts form and partner training, usually called push-hands. These three interrelated and interdependent elements of Tai Chi promote holistic benefits by improving physical, mental, and spiritual well being. Has been shown improve pain and function in: Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia. Recent research on the ancient Chinese mind/body practice of Tai Chi has shown that significant benefits can be achieved through regular practice, at a pace that is best described by the adage “train, don’t strain.”
- Written By Massage Therapist Shandeen Curtis (Clermont Office)