Since the Covid-19 epidemic brought about increased stress and anxiety, mindfulness and mind-body practices have become hot topics. Yoga, Pilates, Qigong, and Tai Chi are some of the most well-known mind-body exercises in the US. All four therapies combine movement, breathing exercises, meditation, and other activities to improve your mental and physical health, self-awareness, and spiritual growth.
Experts say that all these practices can increase your strength, flexibility, mindfulness, and balance. Studies have also shown that some of these practices may have a positive effect on your health, such as substance abuse, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and back pain.
In a 2017 study in Evidenced-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Qigong was shown to improve the quality and quantity of life. It also improved balance, sleep quality, and handgrip strength. In a 2013 study published in the journal Psychiatric clinics of North America, tai chi, qigong, and stress reduction were all found to be beneficial in reducing depression, anxiety, and mood disturbances.
Learn a bit about each practice before you decide which one is best for you. Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice. It was first introduced to the United States in the late 1800s. Many poses are paired with breathing techniques. Yoga is usually slow-moving and uses slow-moving movements. There are many types of yoga, from modern to traditional, such as hot yoga or goat yoga. However, most Americans learn Hatha yoga, the most basic version.
Pilates is a more recent practice that was introduced to America by Joseph H. Pilates (a German immigrant). Pilates is a form of meditation and stretching that focuses on strengthening the body. It is usually practiced in small reformer classes that make use of the universal reformer piece, which Joseph Pilates invented.
Experts believe that qigong originated in China and has been practiced for thousands of years. Qigong, like yoga and Pilates, integrates postures with mindfulness and breathing techniques. However, it uses a series of gentler, slower-flowing movements.
These movements can both be done by standing up and sitting down. Many different positions can be strung together. Qigong can be practiced as a single movement, which is repeated repeatedly. Sometimes it’s just a focus on breathing and no motion.
Tai chi, a form of qigong is one of the most well-known. It is similar to a martial art and focuses on specific movements. They are often performed outdoors in a prescribed routine. Qigong, which is simpler and more adaptable, focuses more on cultivating energy known as chi or qi. Tai chi, on the other hand, places more emphasis on physical form and requires more discipline.
How to select the best practice
Which is the best?
Dr. Vincent Minichiello is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison and an integrative medicine physician. They’re movements that people want to move the body gently and heal.
There are some differences. Minichiello stated that yoga studios are more accessible than places where you can practice qigong or tai-chi, and so might be what you choose to do. Minichiello, a student of tai-chi, noted that some people might find memorizing the movements difficult, so perhaps the simpler qigong is a better fit.
He said that Qigong can be done laying down or even through visualization. “So if your body is having trouble moving, you can visualize the movements and practice them.”
Pilates poses a greater risk of injury than other exercises, according to Lauren K. Baker, a New York-based certified personal trainer. This is because the moves required a lot of precision, control, and core strength.
Tai chi is a practice that requires lots of space. It can be difficult to learn the movements when you first start. Baker stated that qigong has the benefit of clearing stagnant energy. However, the removal of this energy can cause fatigue, nausea, or mild headaches.
Jessica Schatz, a Los Angeles-based master instructor of Pilates and yoga, says that if you are interested in learning Pilates, it is important to start one-on-one with a skilled instructor. The problem with Pilates is that the name is not registered so anyone can use it. I’m often contacted by people who claim they have been practicing it for years.
Are you more confused than ever? Perhaps you don’t have to choose between the four. Schatz explained that she has often instructed her clients to take three deep, conscious breaths each morning.
She’ll also ask them to do the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” exercise. This requires you to take a moment to notice what you see and then to name five things that you can feel. Next, you will need to identify four emotions or physical sensations. Then you will have to name four things you can feel, three things you hear, and two things you smell or taste. End by saying something nice about yourself.
Schatz stated, “It’s an opportunity to practice being present in the moment and staying present to help us avoid being anxious.”
Minichiello stated that no matter what you choose to do, your body will be grateful for the time you take to take care of yourself. Self-care is important, and your body will appreciate it.
Schatz stated that our bodies send us messages all the time. However, some people don’t pay attention or listen until it’s too late. Schatz was referring to issues such as back pain and ulcers. Science has confirmed that mental and emotional well-being is inextricably linked to physical health.