Incorporating Meditative Movement Into A Regular Fitness Regimen

Meditative Movement combines breath awareness, flowing movements, and mental focus. In order to meet the characteristics associated with meditative movement, these three elements must exhibit certain qualities:

  • Regardless of the specific activity, the practitioner maintains a slow and deep breathing pattern.
  • The intensity of the physical activity associated with meditative movement ranges from low to moderate.
  • Meditative movement is characterized by an intense level of mental concentration.

Meditative movement may also be referred to as mindful meditation. Mindful meditation takes these characteristics a step further. It extends their application to general activities, for example walking, washing dishes or gardening may be done mindfully by changing the quality of attention, breath, and movement used during the activity.

Most people associate meditative movement with specific forms of exercise based on the intentional application of the mind-body connection. These popular exercise formats include yoga, tai chi, qigong, and Pilates.

According to a 2013 listing by StatisticBrain.com, 15 million people in the United States practice yoga and 8 million Americans practice Pilates. People practice these exercise formats for their ability to relieve stress, relax the mind and body, and improve physical fitness and health.

Many people practice yoga, Pilates, and other forms of meditative movement as part of their regular fitness regimen. They use their mind-body routine in a variety of ways:

  • Prior to more demanding physical activity, meditative movement may be applied as a means to dynamically stretch and warm the muscles and joints as well as focus the mind.
  • It may also be used as an extended cool down method to lengthen and relax muscles following vigorous physical activity.

The key to integrating meditative movement into a regular workout regimen lies in the intention. Why a person engages in meditative movement dictates when they do it as well as the type of meditative movement selected.

It is important to keep in mind many types of meditative movement act as fitness regimens with meditative aspects. Pilates function primarily as a rehabilitative form of exercise, which requires mental concentration for proper performance.

While yoga mainly focuses on the inner workings of the mind and spirit, the style of yoga practiced, informs how physically demanding it can be.

How To Incorporate Meditative Movement

  • When practicing a form of meditative movement before or following another fitness activity, gage the level of intensity for both. If using the meditative movement to warm up, follow it with a workout suited to your current fitness level and objectives.
  • If meditative movement follows your standard workout, Power Yoga might not be the best option unless you are exceptionally fit. A better choice might be a gentle restorative yoga class following your workout.
  • If you prefer intense workouts, running, fitness boot camps, weight lifting, high intensity interval training, etc., it might be better to practice some form of meditative movement on an entirely different day. By integrating meditative movement into your workout regimen in this way, it acts as one of your post workout recovery techniques.

As mentioned previously, the intensity of your meditative movement session needs to adapt to its intended purpose. A meditative movement program intended to aid recovery needs to be less intense than the preceding workout. For example, a high intensity interval training session should not be followed by a Power Yoga class the next day. A Hatha Flow, Gentle Vinyasa, or Restorative Yoga class would better serve the purpose of muscle recovery.

No Limits

Meditative movement does not need to be limited to certain modes of mind-body exercise. Any activity of low to moderate intensity may be transformed into meditative movement by incorporating the three characteristics of meditative movement into the activity.

Slowing and deepening the breath, performing the activity in a controlled and attentive manner while maintaining a mindful awareness of the breath and the action transforms walking, performing household chores or brushing one’s teeth into a form of meditative movement.

While the more mundane activities may not provide a noticeable physical workout, the mental and intrinsic physiological benefits, mental clarity, lower blood pressure, improved circulation and more, remain.

Moreover, while the physical benefits of traditional exercise are found in forms of meditative exercise such as Tai Chi, and yoga, the mental and emotional acumens of those are not obtained through traditional exercise, such as running, cycling, or weight training. This is something that should be a factor when planning a well-rounded fitness regimen.

*DISCLAIMER: THIS PUBLICATION IS NOT INTENDED TO BE MEDICAL ADVICE, IT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING ANY EXERCISE PROGRAM.

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5 Ways to Find Happiness Instead of Getting it From Food

Do you find food to be your only source of happiness? How’s it working out for you? Chances are, not very good. However,you’re not alone; millions of people around the world suffer from food addiction. Food addiction has nothing to do with being greedy, as some people may wrongfully assume; but rather a psychological condition that binds to food.

So is there any way out of this? Yes, absolutely. In fact, you should start implementing the tips below to find happiness in the real things in life, and not be held prisoner by food any longer!

Get In Your Workouts

Exercise is so much more important than making you look good. In fact, the health benefits are far superior, with looking good coming as a pleasant bonus. Exercise promotes the production of feel good brain chemicals, known as endorphins, which boost mood, productivity, and sense of wellbeing. In fact, exercise is a very important adjuvant in treating depressive illness, and may in some cases be the primary management technique.

For best results, get in your exercise sessions at least three times per week, up to a maximum of 5 times weekly. You will be surprised how good you feel after 6 short weeks of starting a new plan.

Re-acquaint Yourself With Nature

When was the last time you spend real time in nature? Living in a concrete jungle, we spend less and less time camping, hiking or just going for walks in the beautiful forests. Mind you, we’re not advocating you go get lost in unfamiliar territory, but a light walk in nature is sure to give you a deeper appreciation of the beauty in the world.

Better yet, how about picking up gardening? Knowing that you nurtured something from a seedling and watched it grow everyday can give you joy like raising a child. Knowing that you made a difference in the world may be all you need to break the psychological addiction to food.

Go Out With Friends

We know, sometimes you end up sacrificing friends for food, the selfish master that leads you down a spiral of depression. However, there is always time. Reconnect with friends you haven’t spoken to in weeks, months or even years.

You will be amazed how time flies when you’re out with your friends, and you won’t be held captive by food. In addition, you are likely to burn a few more calories than you would if you were just at home, and the memories you form from your adventures will give you pleasure for a long time to come. Not the short bouts of up, followed by sever downs that food is notorious for.

Practice Meditation

Meditation is no longer some obscure practice followed by just a few, but has spread to the mainstream population thanks to its proven benefits on health. Though the addiction to food is a real psychological condition, meditation can help you break the bonds by increasing your appreciation for other things in life, bringing profound happiness. Mindfulness increases, and you become truly happy and thankful for everything in your life.

Get a Pet

A pet can deliver tons of happiness in your life, motivating you to break free from using food as your motivation. Having someone (yes, your pet) that loves you infinitely is a powerful motivator of happiness, and works in most cases. Adopt a puppy or kitten, and you will have tons of fun and happiness for years to come.

Conclusion

Food needs to resume its true function- being used for fuel and subtle pleasure. It was not meant to become a source of happiness, and this may have been inadvertently promoted due to marketing of sugary junk.

Go live in the real world, and find your true happiness.

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*DISCLAIMER: THIS PUBLICATION IS NOT INTENDED TO BE MEDICAL ADVICE, IT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

Living with Depression – Life’s Not Over

For those living with depression, every day can be a challenge. For family members of depressed people, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do, and you may feel like you’re walking on eggshells. Understanding depression can go a long way in helping deal with this illness, and there are some coping tips that may help. Here are some suggestions.

Get the Best Treatment

The first step for a depressed person is to get treatment – but it’s equally important to get the best treatment, say experts. This means taking the time to get the help you need, or helping your depressed family member get optimal help.

Include Family in Therapy

While the depressed individual may not want family members present in every counseling or therapy session, it may be a good idea to include family members at least sometimes. The therapist can then see a slice of the family dynamic, and the family members can gain a better understanding of the issue. Some family members are more likely to believe a therapist’s “take” on things than take the depressed person’s word for it.

Including family may also help other family members to better understand how to treat the depressed individual, and what things they can say or do to support the depressed person.

Parents of Teens

Because teenagers are a high-risk group for developing depression, sources say, the parents of teens may benefit from some tips on living with a depressed teen. Here are some suggestions.

* Develop a tough skin. Teens who are depressed may yell at you to leave them alone, to go away, or to stop talking to them. For teens, this may be a sort of test of your parenting – the teen may be testing to see if you care enough to press through the anger and continue trying to reach them. Parents who truly care may miss this aspect and just give up after being yelled at. Instead, remember it’s not personal and your teen still needs you.

* Listen. Busy parents often forget to listen, and how important it is. Parents sometimes need to stop running and take a break to listen and talk. A parent-teen “date” or retreat can help – maybe a mother-daughter shopping trip or father-son fishing excursion.

* Encourage your depressed teen to problem solve. As parents, we just want their struggles to go away; but giving them the tools to cope is a gift that will last a lifetime. It’s okay to help, encourage, and prompt your teen; but experts say your goal as a parent is to get their brains working on solving their own problems.

Nurture Relationships

As a depressed person, it may be hard to maintain friendships. But supportive friends are important for your depression management and coping. Try to make a point of nurturing these relationships; it will help you break out of yourself and focus on someone else.

*DISCLAIMER: THIS PUBLICATION IS NOT INTENDED TO BE MEDICAL ADVICE, IT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

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How Tai Chi Helps Alleviate Stress And Anxiety

Tai Chi provides a simple, accessible, and effective way to exercise the body and mind. The series of slow movements, performed with intense focus while breathing deeply calms the sympathetic nervous system, which guides the fight, or flight response. There are several styles of Tai Chi. Most of them incorporate poses, which take their names and movements from animals, vegetation, and other natural phenomena.

Activities, which support the health of the body, can also support mental health via the mind-body connection. Physical exercise provides many benefits. Tai Chi in particular offers a long list of physical and mental benefits. Regarding physical health, this form of exercise builds strength and muscular endurance, improves balance, increases flexibility, offers pain relief, and maintains joint health–allowing practitioners improved range of motion.

The mental health benefits include improved self-esteem and confidence, a more positive outlook and a general sense of well-being. It also allows practitioners to learn how to focus their attention; this ability may help some ease their tendency toward worry or anxiety.

The National Alliance On Mental Health reports that 18.1% of US adults experience some type of anxiety disorder, which includes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and various phobias. People also experience anxiety on a day-to-day basis as the pressure and stressors of life trigger the stress response in the body.

Tai Chi and Stress

A 2010 article published in the American Academy of Family Physicians journal, “Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation for Depressive and Anxiety Disorders,” analyzed several studies on the effects of Tai Chi, and other mind-body therapies, on anxiety and stress.

Analysis of the study outcomes showed Tai Chi improves the symptoms of depression in adults ages 50 to 84. The results also show the improvement may be primarily associated with the social support found by practicing Tai Chi in-group settings. The authors based this conclusion on follow-up observations, which showed declines in the improvements after class participation ended.

Tai Chi and Anxiety

Exercise in general causes improvements in the symptoms of people with anxiety disorder order. They experience a decrease in panic attacks, nervousness, and other symptoms. Tai Chi’s meditative element may lend further support for symptom relief.

The data analysis of the studies covered in the previously mentioned AAFP article indicated that meditation is an effective therapy for people with anxiety disorders.

Why Does It Work?

Tai Chi causes changes in the brain, which build cognitive functions and keep the brain young.

  • In general, people experience a loss in grey matter as they age. Grey matter is the conductor of brain activity; it carries the electrical signals of our thoughts to the different sections of the brain. Tai Chi practitioners build grey matter up to 40 percent with extended and consistent practice.
  • It increases cortical wall density. Thicker cortical walls are associated with decreased cognitive decline, which supports faster decision making, improved ability to focus and better memory.
  • Tai Chi builds neuroplasticity. It helps the brain build new connections based on daily experiences and reorganize current connections. As they learn and perform Tai Chi exercises, practitioners exercise their mental muscles: building attention, memory, and proprioception. This strengthens a person’s ability to manage daily stressors.
  • These brain benefits also prevent cyclical negative thoughts. Instead of worrying about past, present or future outcomes, Tai Chi practitioners are better able to move on to the next thought and address stressful situations in a forward thinking fashion.
  • Tai Chi is a meditative movement practice that involves slow, fluid movement as one transitions from one form to the next. This type of movement requires a high level of concentration from the mind, which in turn allows a profound calm to take place. This calming of the mind does not stop once a session of Tai Chi is over, with regular practice it becomes a part of the practitioner, which allows them to cope with life’s stress in a more calm and peaceful manner helping to reduce anxiety exponentially.

Tai Chi is especially beneficial for older adults and elderly people who find other forms of physical activity challenging. The slow-motion, low impact and meditative nature of the practice allow them to access multiple benefits without having to set aside time to exercise and an additional period of time to meditate. They experience health gains, stress relief, and decreased anxiety with one activity.

Consistent practice, two to three times per week, is the key to successfully using Tai Chi to combat depression and anxiety. The combined physical and mental benefits of practicing Tai Chi, along with its effectiveness, make it a popular alternative therapy with people of all ages.

*DISCLAIMER: THIS PUBLICATION IS NOT INTENDED TO BE MEDICAL ADVICE, IT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING ANY EXERCISE PROGRAM.

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Can Tai Chi Slow The Aging Process?

All of us get older; this is just a simple fact of life. However, the aging process can differ from one person to the other. The better we take care of our health, and make healthy lifestyle choices the better the aging process will be.

This is a simple fact that is supported by mountains of scientific research.People who focus on prevention early in life can reap the benefits of being more vital, energetic, and healthier as they face their senior years.

Tai Chi is a form of exercise that can be used at any age and at any fitness level. This exercise began as a form of martial art but has found profound popularity in the modern world as a form of meditative movement that has great healing energy, helps to reduce pain, boost brain power,improve mind wellness, posture and balance. It also makes a great adjunct to medications used to treat the elderly depressed patient.

Can it actually slow the aging process along with its long list of health benefits?

A Recent Study On Aging And Tai Chi

A recent study was published in Cell Transplantation, which looked at the benefits of Tai Chi when it comes to the aging process. The study looked at levels of CD34 cells, which are important cells to many of our body’s organs and cellular metabolism. They knew that the numbers of this type of stem cell were important in aging and decided to see whetherTai Chi affected the number of CD34 cells in the body.

The study involved dividing groups of volunteers who were under the age of 25 at the time of the study. The participants were assigned activities such as brisk walking, Tai Chi, or no exercise program whatsoever. Youthful participants were studied because they renew cells better than older people do and the study was designed to last for one full year. These participants were free of any type of chronic disease and took no medications during the study period.

The Results

The study revealed that those participants who studied and practiced Tai Chi on a regular basis had a much greater number of rejuvenating CD34 cells than those who were in the other two groups.

With more of these stem cells in the system, it was felt that they could offset the cellular death and decline that goes with the aging process.

Researchers were quick to point out that the number of CD34 cells in the body only partially affects aging and that more studies on aging and Tai Chi need to be carried out before it can be determined that Tai Chi actually slows the aging process.

So far, Tai Chi has been found scientifically to help people who suffer from chronic pain syndromes, fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease—which is usually a problem affecting the aged population.

It also helps people improve their balance so they fall less, lessen stress, and reduce blood pressure. Besides the elevation in CD34 cells, things like reduced stress, lessened pain, and blood pressure reduction are known to prolong life and to improve the quality of one’s life.

A Chinese Study

Tai Chi is also known to improve memory in all age groups. A group of Chinese researchers looked at elderly people and their memory performance on memory tests. Those participants who took part in Tai Chi at least three times per week were able to do better on various memory tests after just 8 months of practicing Tai Chi.

The researchers compared scores on memory tests between Tai Chi practitioners and those that did not practice Tai Chi and discovered a significant difference in the brain’s ability to memorize things between the two groups.

Memory problems are another problem affecting the aged population so Tai Chi may be able to help this population have a better quality of life when they practice Tai Chi.

Parkinson’s disease patients, who are for the most part elderly, showed improvements in balance and coordination when they studied Tai Chi and practiced it regularly; they had fewer falls, which could have potentially led to hip and wrist fractures, some of which can lead to an early death.

Bottom Line

Tai Chi has a long list of health benefits, and supports and promotes mind, body, and spiritual wellbeing. It can be incorporated into any regular fitness routine that also includes aerobic and strength training workouts to yield a well-rounded and highly diverse training program that can support health, wellness, and better aging.

In various ways, Tai Chi appears to result in a longer life,and a better quality of life than if the individual didn’t practice Tai Chi. Further studies are necessary to see if there are other ways thatTai Chi can extend life and quality of life.

Let us know what you think about the information provided.

*DISCLAIMER: THIS PUBLICATION IS NOT INTENDED TO BE MEDICAL ADVICE, IT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING ANY EXERCISE PROGRAM.

Natural Treatments for Depression

If you suffer from mild to moderate depression, you may be interested in natural treatments. Even cases of severe depression may benefit from natural remedies in conjunction with medication.

Natural treatments run the gamut from supplements to lifestyle changes to alternative therapy. Here are some natural treatments that may help this disorder.

Dietary Adjustments

Natural health experts generally agree that diet is important in managing depression symptoms. Some dietary changes you can make include:

* Eat nutrient-dense foods. This helps make sure your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs for proper brain function. Fresh produce, nuts, and whole grains tend to be rich in vital nutrients.

* EFAs, or essential fatty acids, may help boost mood in depressed individuals. EFAs can be found in healthy oils like olive or safflower, and in fish and nuts.

* Cut back on refined white sugar and corn syrup. These refined sweeteners tend to cause blood sugar spikes and slumps, which contribute to the symptoms of depression.

* Eat whole foods, such as whole grains and fresh produce. This not only provides depressed individuals with much-needed, healthy carbs; it also minimizes artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from the diet. These artificial substances may contribute to depression in some individuals.

Chiropractic and other Body-Oriented Treatments

These alternative therapies seem to be gaining acceptance among medical experts. Techniques like chiropractic adjustments, massage, acupuncture, and others may help relieve depression symptoms. This may have to do with improving circulation or the elimination of toxins from the tissues of the body. Other body treatments include:

* Dance therapy
* Acupressure
* Martial arts
* Yoga

Exercise

Working out daily can be hard even if you don’t have depression. But it’s even more important if you do – exercise has been shown to help relieve symptoms of depression. This may be due to the ability of exercise to boost brain chemicals that make you feel happy. Exercise brings balance to your life, balancing activity and rest; a balanced lifestyle itself can be very helpful in dealing with depression.

Most sources are consistent in pointing out that exercise need not be strenuous, but that it should be regular – 30 to 60 minutes a day for 3 to 6 days a week.

Supplements

A good vitamin and mineral supplement that is high in B12 and B6 is said to be good for alleviating depression. Magnesium is another mineral that tends to be deficient in many people, and that is important for proper nerve and muscle function. You may also find that supplements of evening primrose oil, flax oil, or fish oil will help your mood.

Herbal supplements have sometimes been used with success. St. John’s Wort is probably the best-known herb that may combat depression. Others include ginseng, valerian root, and chamomile. Chamomile can be drunk as a tea, as can another tasty sedative herb – lemon balm.

Always check with your doctor before supplementing with any herbs to avoid any adverse drug/herb interactions. And if you know a qualified herbalist, you can get advice from him or her, too.

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*DISCLAIMER: THIS PUBLICATION IS NOT INTENDED TO BE MEDICAL ADVICE, IT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.