Stress Awareness Tip #8

Group of people doing yoga exercices

Eastern cultures have begun to infuse and integrate into North American culture and with this infusion came some wonderful practices such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. All are practices that have been shown to help with stress reduction. Please note, always consult a doctor before beginning any exercise or practice.

Yoga

Yoga is based on the idea that the body and mind are one. The word yoga in general terms means to yoke which is exactly what yoga does by linking breath, mind, body, and spirit. Many practices include asanas (postures), meditation, and breathing exercises. While moving through the asanas during the physical practice, the breath is linked to the movement. There are many different types of yoga ranging from Hatha yoga to Bikram yoga. It can be tricky to find the right type that works for you so below are articles on different styles of yoga. Hatha has been recommended a good pick for stress management but spend the time exploring to find the type that speaks to you. The practice of yoga has many benefits beyond just stress reduction:

  • Improves flexibility, strength, and balance
  • Posture improvement
  • Breath awareness
  • May help lower blood pressure
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Sound sleep
  • Reduces cortisol levels
  • May lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • Spiritual growth
  • Improves sense of well-being
  • Reduces anxiety and muscle tension

Tai Chi and Qi Gong

Tai Chi and Qi Gong: Both Chinese practices are based on two principles. The first is energy, qi or chi, that flows through the body along meridians or energy pathways. The second principle is based on how nature consists of yin and yang, opposing forces. Tai chi consists of either moving slowly or quickly through a series of movements to help move the body’s chi. While Qi gong consists of different movements that may be done in different orders. These practices also have their own benefits beyond stress reduction:

  • Improves posture, balance, coordination, endurance, strength, and flexibility
  • Helps maintain good health and quality of life
  • Can provide some aerobic benefits

Once you find a practice that works for you spend some time exploring your community to find a qualified instructor and others who might be interested in the same practice to continue to access social connection as well.

References and Further Reading:
WebMD – Stress Management – Ways to Relieve Stress
WebMD – Yoga – Topic Overview
WebMD – Tai Chi and Qi Gong – Topic Overview
Mayo Clinic – Yoga: Fight stress and find serenity
Gaiam – A Beginner’s Guide to 8 Major Styles of Yoga
Mind Body Green – 14 Styles Of Yoga Explained Simply
Yoga Journal – Types of Yoga
Active – How Yoga Relieves Stress
About Health – The Benefits of Yoga for Stress Management
Harvard Health Publications – The health benefits of tai chi

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