5 Mind-body workouts for wellness
To actively enhance your wellness, make the mind-body connection part of your workouts!
Have you harnessed the power of the mind-body connection? You can use your thoughts to influence your body's physical responses. The healing aspects of this mind-body connection can help you decrease stress and anxiety, strengthen the immune system, control chronic pain and enhance sleep so that you get the rest your body needs. Making the connection is a powerful way for you to actively participate in your own wellness.
Yoga is an ancient discipline that connects the mind, body and spirit through poses, concentration and meditation. A consistent yoga practice reduces stress, but also improves blood circulation, helps the heart and lungs function more efficiently, balances the metabolism and strengthens the immune system. Chronic pain is controlled more easily as the body becomes more flexible with the deliberate yoga moves. Muscle groups are worked in all directions, so yoga is an excellent overall-body workout. With its gentle and precise movements, yoga draws the mind away from the stress and anxiety of daily living -- the poses require calm concentration. Yoga may well be the ultimate workout to strengthen that critical connection between mind and body.
Sequential muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups in the body one at a time, progressing throughout the entire body. The key is to tighten a specific muscle group for five to 10 seconds and then release, noticing the difference in how that muscle group feels before and after. Start at your feet and work up the body through your legs, torso, arms, neck and shoulders to the scalp. While you're working the muscles, your mind is actively engaged in controlling the action.
Use the power of your mind to focus on breathing. You'll learn to change your breathing rate from fast, shallow chest breathing to deep, slow abdominal breathing. Picture a balloon in your abdomen and concentrate on inflating it. Your abdomen should rise more than your chest during this exercise. As you exhale, let your abdomen fall naturally. With every long, slow breath you should feel more relaxed.
Walking will connect the mind and body if you let your worries go and visualize while you move. We all know how beneficial to our health walking can be. Try adding soothing music in your iPod to your daily miles. Something uplifting and inspiring can help melt the stress away as you concentrate on your stride and listen to your own breathing.
Build muscle and boost brain cells as part of your wellness regimen. Weights in gradually increasing size are used for arm lifts and curls, or to strengthen the lower body. Relax and concentrate on feeling the weight and being aware of your muscles tightening and relaxing as you work through your reps. This imagery can decrease stress and anxiety while making you stronger!
Studies suggest that workouts requiring concentration, imagery and visualization can help regenerate brain cells while they improve physical conditioning. Working out your mind and body together is a winning approach to wellness.
Try out yoga at home by renting a beginner workout on DVD. Hatha yoga is a good choice for the novice because the moves are slower and easier.