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Yoga and Qigong
Yoga is a great way to reverse the impact of stress on your body. There are many yoga options available through community classes, DVDs and online videos. Check with your friends or a local studio to find a class that fits your body’s needs. Begin slowly even if you are returning to yoga after an injury or time away. If you are a beginning yoga student or have specific medical conditions, consider a private 1:1 session with a yoga instructor to find poses and breath patterns that meet your body’s needs. Ask to visit a class to observe before making a decision to join the class.
Don’t push yourself to do poses that advanced students are able to do. Consider a chair yoga, restorative yoga or yin yoga class as a first time student. These classes typically modify the poses for your body’s needs by using bolsters and props to help you relax into the pose for a more effective and safer stretch. As you become more advanced, you might want to try more difficult classes.
It is important to listen to your body and not force it into positions that are uncomfortable. Respect pain and discomfort. If it feels uncomfortable or “pokey”, then stop and ask the yoga instructor for assistance in modifying the pose. Learn to breathe and relax into the pose without going to the end range until you know your body’s abilities. Each body is unique. Your bone structure or muscle tension may not allow you to do the pose like the instructor or video demonstrates. It is important to prevent injury by making wise choices.
Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep is a meditation path of the yoga practice that can systematically release tension in your body, restore posture, quiet your mind or reduce pain. It is similar to a guided visualization or guided meditation. It usually includes a progressive body relaxation process by bringing your mind’s attention to various parts of your body in a quick succession. As you make mental note about each part of your body, the area in your brain which controls that body area is activated and causes a relaxation response as you quickly move on to the next area.
Robin Carnes, Amy Weintraub or Richard Miller (iRest) all have excellent CDs, MP3 files or apps for your smart phone which can be purchased online. Some of these also include healing sounds or chakra clearing exercises which are also helpful. They come in a variety of lengths so you can do a quick 10 minute session between meetings or have an extended practice as part of your morning or evening routine.
- Yoga for Breast Cancer by Thriving Yoga
- Relax & Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times by Judith Lasater, PT
- A Morning Cup of Yoga by Jane Goad Trechsel
- Yoga Nidra with Robin Carnes
- LifeForce Yoga with Amy Weintraub
- Yoga Nidra with Richard Miller (iRest)
Qigong and Tai Chi
There is a growing awareness of eastern practices of movement and meditation such as Qigong or Tai Chi. These practices focus on posture, breathing, focus and gentle movement in order to move energy through your body and bring balance to your health. Poor posture, muscle tension, old injuries or scar tissue can block flows of energy in your body, which can lead to chronic problems. An injury to one area, such as an ankle, can impact other parts of your body such as your hips or shoulders or neck posture. Look for classes in your community. As with any new program, you must start out slowly. Consider asking for a private session or observe a class prior to joining. There are many online instructional videos and downloads available. Listen to your body and notice how you feel before, during and after your session.
You may wish to start out with simple movements to open the flow of energy. Open your energy gates by holding simple acupressure points or gently stimulating these points with tapping motions.
Check out four simple energy gate exercises from the Tao of Healing website.