Holistic Exercise: 4 Types of Exercise that Improve your Body and Mind
By Marc Courtiol
We often assume that exercise has to be physically and mentally taxing in order to be beneficial. The old adage, “No pain, no gain,” is treated as dogma, and as a result many people take an almost masochistic approach to working out. But while there is nothing wrong with emphasizing hard work in your exercise program, it does not need to be painful. Holistic exercise takes the opposite approach, employing workout techniques that keep the body fit while contributing to a sense of relaxation and spiritual balance. Here are just four types of holistic exercise that can hold countless benefits without the self-punishment too often associated with physical fitness.
There are many schools of yoga, all of which originate in India and elsewhere in Asia, but the Americanized version is usually considered to be derived from Asana, a traditional form of yoga that uses postures to improve flexibility and maintain well-being.
One of the best things about yoga is that it is easy to get started. There are hundreds of advanced postures to challenge people who have been doing yoga for years, but there is also a large set of postures you can do even in your first yoga session. And as with all holistic health practices, yoga places an emphasis on your individuality; if your body does not want you to perform a certain posture, you never have to force yourself.
Traditionally, Qigong has been thought of as a way to treat illnesses and help recover from various ailments, but in modern times it is more often viewed as a form of holistic exercise with immediate and long-term benefits. It can be hard to get started in qigong, but if you can find a quality teacher in your area, it can be immensely beneficial.
Unlike yoga and qigong, tai chi is more than just a mentally and physically beneficial form of exercise. It is also a legitimate form of martial arts, meaning that people who learn true tai chi learn real self-defense and fighting techniques. In practice, many tai chi programs downplay this element of the exercise, but in most places it is possible to find self-defense classes founded upon tai chi principles.
If you have a partner who shares your interest in holistic health, consider learning how to perform couples’ massage. In addition to the obvious benefits for the recipient, it provides exercise value (in the form of burned calories) for the person performing the massage. Ever wonder why massage therapists are so often thin, slim, and energetic? Giving a massage is hard work.