In a loud world where the new fad is always at the forefront of news and social media, it can be hard to know the best way to take care of your body. Instead of reinventing the new best fitness routine, try one of these three arts that have stood the test of time. They are often free, accessible, and perfect for those who need low impact exercise. They offer a wide range of physical benefits while also strengthening the mind and the spirit.



Yoga 


How long has it been around?

At least 5000 years


What is it?


In yoga, you can expect to hold a variety of postures that will energize, stretch, and strengthen your body. Instructors emphasize the importance of controlled breathing, which keeps you focused and relaxed during the yoga session. Some instructors also include aspects of meditation, visualization, and positive thinking. Since there are so many different poses, it’s easy to customize each yoga session to your skill level and your daily needs.  


Origins


The beginnings of yoga can be traced back to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in northern India around 3000 BCE. It was first mentioned in the religious texts of the Brahmans (Vedic priests). Early yoga involved sacrificing the ego through self-understanding, action, and wisdom. While these ideas are still evident in the yoga we practice today, yoga is now more about embracing the physical body as a means of achieving enlightenment.


Benefits

  • Low impact
  • Free!
  • Often used as a complementary treatment for anxiety disorders, depression, and heart disease
  • Helps relieve tendonitis, back pain, foot pain, and neck pain
  • Strengthens body and mind
  • No weights required
  • Easy to learn
  • Great for all skill levels


Getting Started

  • YouTube: There are TONS of free yoga tutorials on YouTube. There are entire channels dedicated to yoga and yoga sessions. To start out, try Boho Beautiful , Yoga With Adriene, or  SarahBethYoga 
  • Wanderlust.com: Wanderlust TV is perfect if you want to participate in live online classes. It has a database of videos and resources that could be helpful for beginners, especially when in-person sessions might be limited due to Covid.    
  • Go to a yoga retreat: Retreats happen all over the world and are all different. They are a great way to practice yoga, connect with others, and heal your body, mind, and spirit. The only downside is that they do cost money. Click here to check out a list of some of the best retreats to see which might be worth saving up for. 

 

 

Resources

https://www.emedicinehealth.com/yoga/article_em.htm

https://www.yogabasics.com/learn/history-of-yoga/




Meditation

How long has it been around?

At least 3,500 years (but probably longer)


What is it?


Meditation is more an exercise of the mind. It’s the intentional quieting of the mind in order to achieve a greater mental state of peace and calm. While this seems pretty straight-forward, there are different kinds of meditation that each have a different goal in mind. Certain types of meditation might use instruments, visualization, chanting, or spiritual mantras to help you find peace, positivity, mindful awareness, or even spiritual enlightenment.


Origins


While meditation was first written about by the Vedic priests of India, many believe that different cultures were practicing it in different ways long before it was written about. We at least know that the Vedic priests used meditation solely as a spiritual exercise. Indian Buddhists (500-600 BCE) would later use mediation, as well as wisdom and ethical conduct, as a way to achieve enlightenment. 


Benefits

  • Free!
  • Reduces stress
  • Controls Anxiety
  • Promotes emotional health
  • Enhances self-awareness
  • Can decrease blood pressure
  • Improves sleep
  • May help fight addiction
  • May reduce memory loss
  • Lengthens attention span
  • Helps you feel good-will toward others

 

 

Getting Started

  • Headspace app: This free app includes basic courses for beginners on stress management, happiness, resilience, physical health, and more. There are also sleep meditations, relaxing sleep music, and sleepcasts to help you fall asleep.
  • Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: Do you think you’re too busy for meditation? Too stressed? This book examines the myths, misconceptions, and self-deceptions that keep people from meditating.

 

 

Resources

https://mindworks.org/blog/history-origins-of-meditation/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation




Tai Chi

How long has it been around?

At least 3000 years

 

What is it?

Tai chi uses controlled movements and breathing to create harmony between the body and mind. It is said that tai chi cultivates the qi, or life energy, within us and helps it flow smoothly and powerfully throughout the body. 


Origins  

Tai chi, also known as Shadow Boxing, is a form of traditional Chinese martial arts. It first appears in The Book of Changes, written during the Zhou dynasty (1100-1221 BC). Over 2000 years later, Chen Wangting developed Chen style tai chi, which then became the basis for other major styles, like Wu, Hao, and Sun.


Benefits

  • Low impact
  • Free!
  • Improves strength and flexibility
  • Improves balance and confidence
  • Improves and possibly prevents chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Improves your immune system
  • Reduces stress
  • Can be practiced anywhere


Getting Started

  • YouTube: Like with yoga, there are many free tai chi tutorials on YouTube. To start out, try Taiflow or Peter Chen. Both these individuals have been practicing tai chi for many years and can help make this ancient art an everyday part of your life. 
  • Tai chi for Beginners with Dr. Paul Lam: In this DVD, long-time expert Dr. Paul Lam explains tai chi principles and breaks down exercises so that they’re easy to learn. The DVD is 25 dollars, but the first lesson is available for free on his website and on YouTube


Resources

https://taichiforhealthinstitute.org


Leave a comment