For an investment of 20 minutes each morning, the payback is reduced stress, a sense of calm and peace, improved strength, limberness, better immune function, and lower blood pressure.
It’s not too good to be true. The investment is practicing yoga or tai chi, which were developed and revised over many centuries. The October issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter includes an in-depth special report on yoga and tai chi, covering health benefits, differences between yoga and tai chi, tips for learning postures and poses, simple stretches, and how breathing enhances energy.
An important advantage of yoga and tai chi is that they combine key elements of exercise -- aerobic, strength training, core stability, flexibility, and balance -- into unified approaches.
Certain health benefits, particularly stress reduction, can be seen in as little as one day. People report better sleep and improvements in digestive health within the first few days. Practiced regularly, yoga and tai chi may help reverse some effects of aging, such as restricted and narrowed movements.
After 10 to 12 weeks of regular sessions, practitioners often notice significant health benefits in other areas. A recent study of yoga and people who experience migraines found that those doing yoga had less frequent and less intense headaches than did those taking medication.
People who practice yoga see improvements in anxiety and depression. Yoga and tai chi can improve bone density and cardiovascular health and decrease blood pressure.
Hatha yoga, the most widely practiced form of yoga in the United States, consists of postures, breath control, muscle locks, and gestures aimed at balancing mind, body and spirit through practice. A Hatha yoga session is a complete workout, combining stretching, flexibility, strengthening, aerobic, and cardiovascular.
Tai chi, the ancient martial art, can improve health and fitness levels for people of all ages. Unlike more strenuous physical activities, Tai chi's slow, balanced movements are very accessible to older adults that may have some physical limitations.
For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.