Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation – Foundations for Wellness

Flickr - Chinese Balls - stevendepoloAnna Hunt, Staff Writer
Waking Times

No longer do the Eastern practices of yoga, tai chi and meditation remain esoteric mysteries to us Westerners. Eccentric gurus living in secluded ashrams and mountain-side dojos have passed on their secrets to worldly students. Ancient texts have been translated into multiple languages, analyzed and explained. Students have become teachers and now eagerly share the elements of theory and physical practice with anyone willing to listen.

The proliferation of yoga, tai chi and meditation in the Western world has been quite rapid, with organic growth driven by the beneficial effects inherent to these practices. It is only recently that the Western medical establishment has started to explore and, more often than not, support the claims that gurus and ancient texts have made for generations: yoga, tai chi and meditation benefit the human body in many incredible ways, physically, energetically and spiritually.

Cultivating ‘Whole’istic Health

Most traditional exercise focuses on improving the physical state of the body through movement and breath, which often also positively affects mental stress and improves a person’s overall mood. Yet, traditional exercises such as weightlifting, running, cycling, aerobics, swimming, etc. often bypass the importance of establishing the body-mind connection.

This is why practicing yoga, tai chi and/or meditation is such a wonderful complement to “working out,” because it encourages mindfulness, awareness and concentration, and the interplay of these aspects with physical movement and breath. These practices help us cultivate inner power, rebuild our sense oneness and peace, and teach us to build a strong foundation for a fruitful and generous life.

When you become mindful through regular practice, you release your attachments to the past and the future and learn how to maintain awareness in the present moment. This creates an overall sense of emotional well-being throughout the body, allowing you to strengthen the connection between the body and the brain and revitalize all of the cells and systems of the body.

Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation as Medicine

What other medical treatment could you conduct that causes no adverse side effects and benefits the whole body and mind? Yoga, tai chi and meditation are just that – esoteric practices that are being used by medical professionals and patients to treat certain diseases and manage symptoms, along with pharmaceuticals and/or holistic medicine.

Top Medical Benefits of Yoga

  • Increased release of endorphins, such as dopamine and serotonin, which affect emotions
  • Balancing of the neural pathways of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system
  • Lower resting heart rate

Used to Treat: ADHD, chronic back pain, PSTD, stress, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness

Top Medical Benefits of Tai Chi

  • Improvement in postural stability and balance control
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness

Used to Treat: Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic back pain, chronic knee pain, osteoarthritis in the knees, stress, anxiety, depression

Top Medical Benefits of Meditation

  • Improved immunity
  • Boost to insulin production
  • Relief of inflammation

Used to Treat: stress, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, psoriasis

Starting a Personal Practice

If years of personal success stories don’t persuade you to start a yoga, tai chi and/or meditation practice, perhaps some of the more recent research from respected institutions, such as University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon Research Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, will. Starting a personal practice can mean attending yoga or tai chi classes, ordering some beginner’s videos, or participating in a meditation group. You can also incorporate spontaneous practices into your days, such as 5 long deep breaths, a slow 2 minute walk barefoot on the grass, a sun salutation, and a moment of mindfulness.

~Namaste~
Anna

Tai Chi Resources:

Tai Chi for Beginners, 8 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam – Free 1st Lesson (YouTube)

Tai Chi For Back Pain – DVD

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind

Yoga Resources:

Element: AM & PM Yoga for Beginners – DVD

Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams: A Complete Beginning Yoga Practice for Midlife (40’s – 70’s) – DVD

B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health

Meditation Resources:

Meditation For Beginners – 22-Day Course

Quiet Mind: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

Meditation for Beginners

About the Author

Anna Hunt is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and an entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in research and editorial writing. She and her husband run a preparedness e-store outlet at www.offgridoutpost.com, offering GMO-free storable food and emergency kits. Anna is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor at Atenas Yoga. She enjoys raising her children and being a voice for optimal human health and wellness. Read more of her excellent articles here.

Sources:

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1107911

http://greatist.com/fitness/military-uses-yoga-cure-ptsd-121712

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/tai-chi-improves-balance-and-motor-control-in-parkinsons-disease-201305036150

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23480-meditation-boosts-genes-that-promote-good-health.html?cmpid=RSS|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T’ai_chi_ch’uan#Health_benefits

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19626255.800-meditation-really-does-reduce-stress.html

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/7-health-benefits-of-meditation

Disclaimer: Exerting yourself in a yoga practice can cause injuries such as strained muscles, ligament tears, and lower back or neck injuries. Yoga should be practiced in a non-competitive manner and under the instruction of an experienced teacher. The article published here is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We do not suggest any changes in existing medical treatments or medications without the consultation from your prescribing physician. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Waking Times or its staff.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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5 Comments on "Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation – Foundations for Wellness"

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  1. Wonderful! YES! This what we all need more and more!

  2. Ethan says:

    the Five Tibetan Rites are great too! Simple and powerful: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BMZFGPG

  3. S. Nicoletta Rogers says:

    For Taoist Tai Chi see http://www.taoist.org/

    What are the health benefits?
    Regular practice of Taoist Tai Chi™ arts can bring a wide range of health benefits to the muscular, skeletal and circulatory systems. The flowing movements serve as a moving meditation that reduces stress and provides a way to cultivate body and mind. For more information, see the Transform body + mind page.

    What if I have health problems or disabilities?
    Most people can practice Taoist Tai Chi™ arts in spite of handicap or ailment, even those with advanced chronic conditions or those who are confined to a wheel chair. Numerous illnesses have been shown to improve with the regular practice of the set and associated exercises. Many branches offer ‘special needs’ or ‘health recovery’ classes to help those with particular health problems or who are recovering from injury or illness. Pregnant women or those with an acute health problem should check both with the instructor and their personal physician before beginning any exercise program. The International Centre near Toronto Canada offers a supervised Health Recovery Program, which provides an opportunity for those with significant health problems to improve their health through the intensive practice of Tai Chi in the supportive, calm and healthy environment of a Taoist training centre.

  4. stanley jones says:

    Simple mantra meditation is a profound tool for wellness, why is it a simple guide isn’t available on line for free not links to books or courses etc…. it’s easy – can’t a Waking times contributor put a piece together ?

  5. Solange says:

    Tai Chi is quickly overtaking Yoga as a global health practice. I offer a holistic healthy program in my business, Tai Chi Basket. This includes private Tai Chi lessons and lifestyle and intuitive therapy and counseling, in combinations or all three in the basket. I am certified in all three. Please Email me and see my page on Facebook for more information. Tai Chi Basket; https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tai-Chi-Basket-Anything-Worth-Doing-Is-Worth-Doing-Slowly/239774646053639

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