Mindfulness and mind-body techniques are prominent themes these days, especially since the Covid-19 epidemic exacerbated tension and anxiety. Yoga, Pilates, qigong, and tai chi are some of the most popular mind-body activities. These four treatments all combine movement, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve your physical and mental health, self-awareness, and spiritual growth.
All these routines may enhance your strength, balance, flexibility, posture, and awareness. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that all, or some, of these may have a good influence on health issues such as substance misuse, lung illness, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and back pain.
In a 2017 research published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, qigong was found to increase quality of life, sleep quality, balance, handgrip strength, trunk flexibility, blood pressure, and resting heart rate. In another research published in the journal Psychiatric Clinics of North America in 2013, tai chi and qigong were found to improve sadness, stress, anxiety, and mood disorders.
How to choose what’s best for you:
Before trying to determine what’s best for you, learn a little about each one.
Yoga is a slow-movement practice that combines various postures with breathing techniques. There are several yoga methods available, including contemporary variations such as hot yoga and goat yoga.
Pilates emphasizes stretching and strengthening the body while focusing on breathing and meditation. It is often taught in group mat sessions or small “reformer” courses that employ universal reformer equipment.
Qigong, like yoga and Pilates, combines physical postures with breathing methods and awareness, but in flowing motions that are frequently smoother and slower.
These exercises may be done standing or sitting, and hundreds of various postures can be chained together.
Tai Chi is a type of qigong that is one of the most popular in the world. It is like martial art and concentrates on precise motions that are linked together in a structured sequence. Qigong is the easier and more adaptable of the two, concentrating on nurturing the energy known as chi or qi, whereas Tai Chi emphasizes athleticism and takes more discipline.
There are still some distinctions to be made between each practice. Yoga studios are more accessible than locations to practice Pilates, tai chi, or qigong. Dr. Vincent Minichiello, an assistant professor and integrative health physician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a tai chi student himself, and said that some people may find memorizing its moves difficult, thus the simpler qigong may be a better match.
Words of advice from professional trainers
“Qigong may also be performed while lying down and even by imagination,” he explained, “So if you have difficulty moving your body, you can practice the motions by imagining them.”
Pilates, according to Lauren K. Baker, a certified personal trainer based in New York, has a higher risk of injury than the others since its exercises need a lot of control, accuracy, and core strength.
Tai chi takes a lot of room, ideally outside, which may be an issue for some. When first beginning out, the movements might be unpleasant. “One of the benefits of qigong is that it releases stagnant energy,” says Baker, “but the purging of negative energy from the body can lead to fatigue, nausea, pain, or a slight headache.”
If you’re interested in Pilates, Jessica Schatz, a certified Pilates teacher and yoga instructor in Los Angeles, recommends beginning with a one-on-one session with a highly skilled instructor. “The issue with Pilates is that it is not a recognized trademark, so anyone may use it.” People who claim to have done it for years come to me injured.”
Whatever technique you choose, your body and mind will appreciate the fact that you’re taking care of yourself. Because self-care is critical, and your body understands — and desires it.
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