For many people, finding ways to combat stress and promote relaxation is a lifelong pursuit. There are a number of different strategies people use, including yoga or meditation. What exactly are these techniques and how can they benefit overall health? Here’s a look.
Yoga is an exercise focused on the body’s natural tendency for health and self-healing. It’s designed to create strength, awareness and harmony within both the body and the mind, and it accomplishes this through a combination of breathing exercises, meditation, and posture and stretching work.
Yoga helps many people stay healthy by promoting many of the body’s self-healing methods that are already naturally present. It can lower chronic pain and arthritis, as well as headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Other benefits of yoga on the body include:
- • Physical benefits: Other physical benefits include increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration and vitality, a balanced metabolism and weight reduction. Yoga can also contribute to cardio and circulatory health, improved athletic performance and protection from various injuries.
- • Mental benefits: Yoga is also great for managing stress, which can have significant effects on the body and mind. Stress can often cause pain, sleeping issues, headaches, drug abuse and trouble concentrating. Yoga can be great for helping improve coping skills and positivity for people dealing with significant stress. It helps promote mental clarity and calmness while relaxing the mind and centering attention. It can also sharpen basic concentration.
There are numerous different kinds of yoga practices—over 100 different types, or schools, in fact. Anyone can learn yoga, whether or not you’ve done it before and regardless of your physical fitness level.
Meditation, or the process of training the mind to focus and redirect thoughts, is increasing in popularity as more people understand its benefits. It’s great for reducing stress and increasing concentration, and it can also have several other benefits, including:
- • Stress and anxiety reduction: Less stress means less anxiety, including disorders like phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks.
- • Improved emotional health: Meditation can lead to improved self-image and more positive general outlook.
- • Increased self-awareness: For people looking for self-discovery, meditation can be a great outlet. You can get a better understanding of yourself and your surroundings through self-inquiry meditation, for instance.
- • Greater attention span: Meditation can help increase both the strength and endurance of your attention span. People who do meditation can often remember detailed tasks more accurately, and meditation may even reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering and poor attention.
- • Lowered memory loss: Meditation may help improve age-related memory loss and dementia due to increases in attention and clarity of thinking.
- • Kindness: Some types of meditation can increase positive feelings, which then come out in our actions toward ourselves and others. Certain kinds of meditation are based specifically around developing kind thoughts and feelings.
- • Reduced tendency for addiction: Meditation may help with breaking dependencies on substances through increasing self-control and awareness of addictive triggers. It can help people redirect their attention, increase their willpower and control their impulses.
- • Better sleep: Nearly half the population will struggle with insomnia at some point in their lives, but meditation can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- • Reduced pain: Pain perception is connected to state of mind, meaning it can elevate during stressful periods. Meditation can help increase activity in brain centers that control pain, and can cause people to be less sensitive to pain.
- • Improved blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause strain on the heart over time. Meditation can reduce blood pressure, and therefore this strain.
- • Freedom: One of the great parts about meditation is that it can be practiced virtually anywhere. There are many different kinds of meditation, and hardly any of them have specific equipment or space requirements. There are two major styles of meditation (focused-attention meditation and open-monitoring meditation), and various sub-styles within these.
Through cardiovascular exercise, strength training, aquatic activities and specialty classes, members can increase productivity, manage chronic conditions, improve general health and get more enjoyment out of life. Members have access to various cardiovascular and strength training equipment including free weights. A full range of fitness, weight loss, nutrition and wellness classes are available for member convenience.
“The Benefits of Yoga.” American Osteopathic Association. http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/yoga.aspx
“12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation.” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#section1