Nonaerobic movement with controlled breathing can be practiced to reduce stress and anxiety, often associated with disease and illness. Two ancient oriental body movement techniques are:
- Tai chi, an ancient form of martial art, is well-suited for the elderly or frail. Based on Taoism, a Chinese belief system, the practice of tai chi includes slow, graceful movements and rhythmic breathing. Tai chi is sometimes referred to as "moving meditation"—practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness, while breathing deeply.
Tai chi helps to:
- Decrease blood pressure
- Increase stamina, muscle tone, and flexibility
- Improve posture, balance, muscle mass, and strength in older people
- Yoga, which means "union," is an ancient posturing and breathing technique from India. Yoga also uses slow movement, in addition to meditation and breathing exercises, to reach a state of relaxation. The various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. Hatha yoga is the type most common in the United States and Europe It uses postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama). Some of the other major styles of hatha yoga include Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vini, Kundalini, and Bikram yoga.
Yoga helps to:
- Reduce stress
- Reduce pain associated with some chronic illnesses
- Eliminate headaches and insomnia
- Improve stamina for some athletes
- Enhance quality of life for some cancer patients
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