Promoting Wellness Through The Healing Arts

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healing artsWhen it comes to reducing stress many doctors and health professionals emphasize the importance of exercise. Other professionals, especially those in the mental health field, advocate reducing stress through meditation or deep-breathing routines. Participation in the healing arts incorporates all of these things. The healing arts are creative practices that promote overall wellness, supports personal change, healing, and coping. Such activities usually incorporate music, artistic movement, and focused breathing.

 

Healing Arts

 

 

Yoga and tai chi are a couple of forms of healing arts that are becoming increasingly popular. They both utilize physical movement, stretching, and mental focus. Yet, they are also distinct. For starters, they have different origins. Read on to learn about these unique, creative practices and to discover how these healing arts can help alleviate stress.

 

Yoga

healing art practicing yoga

History

Yoga dates back to over 5,000 years ago; it started in northern India. Even in its native form, yoga was considered more than merely exercise and stretching. The movements of this healing arts were spiritual and meditative. Early yoga practices were tied to the faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Yoga spread to the western cultures in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. In the 1980’s yoga started to be viewed as a form of healthy exercise, and since sees an increasing number of participants. Over time different forms of Yoga have emerged. And many new forms of yoga continue to evolve. The most popular forms include the following: Hatha, Raja, Ashtanga, and Bikram Yoga.

 

How To Start

If you are looking to get started most gyms and recreation centers offer Yoga classes. There are also a variety of videos that are available for purchase that show the basic moves of yoga. While it’s nice to exercise in the comforts of your own home there are benefits to joining a class. An instructor can assess whether you are doing the moves correctly. Also, participating with others often serves as an empowering source of motivation.

Wearing comfortable clothing is essential to yoga. Many prefer to wear attire that is fitted yet moveable. This healing art requires frequent changing of positions and you don’t want your clothes to impede with these movements. Rather than shoes, most practice yoga sporting their bare feet.

When experiencing a Yoga class for the first time it can be intimidating. Those who are experienced with Yoga are usually pretty flexible. Watching the complicated poses of yoga is usually baffling for a newbie as well. Maneuvering through these positions as a novice is often difficult and maintaining them can make you feel shaky. But with time and practice it gets easier.

Most starting out with Yoga generally take a class in Hatha yoga. You will learn the basics of positions as well as breathing. After getting comfortable with these movements, you may then want to explore some of the other forms of Yoga.

 

Health Benefits

Many continually participate in yoga to strengthen muscles, stretch and tone muscles of the body. Yoga is also a great way to increase flexibility. This healing art provides numerous benefits to the novice and veteran alike. Ten additional health benefits of yoga are as follows:
1) Improves respiration and breathing
2) Leads to weight loss and helps to stabilize metabolism
3) Increases energy throughout the day
4) Enhances athletic performance – even in non-yoga sports
5) Improves bone health
6) Reduces blood pressure
7) Improves overall mood
8) Helps to improve concentration
9) Releases tension
10) Enhances quality of sleep

 

Also Read: Benefits Of Touch Therapy

 

Drawbacks

Because of the flexibility required for a multitude of the positions in yoga, it is possible to obtain an injury if you aren’t careful. For those that are beginners it is important to understand that being able to successfully maneuver through many of the stretches takes time. When instructors work through the exercises they often show a modified version. If you are new to the healing arts, or have physical issues, it is a good idea to use these modifications, otherwise you run the risk of injury.

Even for those who are experienced with yoga is very important to warm up sufficiently. Twisting or bending too soon into a position results in tweaks and strains. If you ever do experience more than just a mild stretching sensation during the exercises, it may be wise to modify those positions.

One of the areas of yoga that has recently come under scrutiny is Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is a type of yoga where the temperature of the studio is kept at 95 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is at 40 percent. Hence, the environment is very hot. Some claim that the sweltering condition is unhealthy. However, advocates say the hotter temps lead to more flexibility and fewer muscle injuries.

However, if you are new to yoga, you may not want to choose Bikram as your first yoga experience. And those who are sensitive to heat may want to choose a different form of Yoga as well. But if you are ready to heat things up with Bikram, it is extremely important to stay hydrated throughout your workout.

 

Tai Chi

healing arts practicing tai chi

History

Another one of the healing arts many are trying out is tai chi. Tai chi started in China. Even though it is based on martial arts that originated thousands of years ago, tai chi was developed in 1670.

Tai chi incorporates three main fundamentals which are health, meditation, and martial arts. While martial arts includes fast movements, tai chi is much slower paced. Religious influences also played a role in the development of this healing art. The following religions played a role in the conception of tai chi: Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

Just like with yoga, the forms of tai chi have evolved over time. The most common styles of tai chi are Chen, Yang, Sun, and Wu. Although generally similar, the styles differ mainly from each other in the tempo and the size of the various movements.

Tai chi was first taught in San Francisco in 1939. Since that time, more practitioners have taught Tai chi in the United States. Now tai chi is taught all over the country, especially in cities.

 

How To Start

If you live in an urban area you may want to check with your local gym, multicultural, or community center to see if tai chi is taught. Many local colleges and hospitals offer classes frequently as well. In addition, many different tai chi videos are out on the market and can be purchased or downloaded.

While instructors of tai chi may be clothed in their native, authentic attire, students can participate in the movements without a uniform. Participants should attend their tai chi class wearing loose, comfortable clothing. It is important that the attire easily allow for movement. Clothing should also be made of breathable material.

An average tai chi session runs 60 – 90 minutes long. When watching a class for the first time it may look like the participants are moving into different positions very slowly. Although this is true, learning and practicing correct posture is essential to tai chi.

Learning the various movements is usually challenging for beginners. Try to avoid jolting around when moving, and be as smooth as possible. Also, don’t rush the movements. While the exercises are taught in class, they should be regularly practiced at home.

 

Health Benefits

Along with the other types of healing arts, tai chi provides health benefits. Since tai chi encompasses many similar attributes as yoga, the health benefits of yoga are generally applicable as well. Ten additional health benefits of tai chi are as follows:

1) Increases upper-body and lower-body strength
2) Improves overall balance
3) Provides aerobic exercise
4) Decreases stress levels and anxiety
5) Increases stamina
6) Promotes a healthier heart and circulatory system
7) Helps to foster a healthy immune system
8) Reduces inflammation
9) Lowers depression
10) Studies show it helps to improve conditions for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease

 

Drawbacks

Even though tai chi offers numerous health benefits, there are some disadvantages that come with it too. For starters, many see the slow movements of tai chi and assume it is easy to do. But the truth is that mastering these moves takes a lot of practice. Practicing regularly the moves then becomes a major time commitment.

Another drawback of tai chi concerns the availability of lessons. Other healing arts offers multiple types of classes at a variety of locations. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a tai chi instructor that holds classes for the public. This is especially true if you live in a rural area.

Furthermore, if you are someone who holds a strong interest in one of the specific styles of tai chi it is even more difficult to find a class. Those who are pursuing tai chi for health reasons will generally have an easier time finding a class. Those who want an emphasis for a martial arts application are more limited in their options.

Just like with all exercise, you may want to consult a physician before pursuing the healing arts. Even though tai chi and yoga are less impactful on the joints than other forms of exercise, injury is still possible. Certain health and physical conditions could be negatively affected by the various movements. And if you are pregnant you should consult your doctor as well to make sure the activities are safe for you and your baby.

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