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No Pain, BIG GAINS
Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn’t leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning.
Tai Chi can improve both lower-body strength and upper-body strength. When practiced regularly, Tai Chi can be comparable to resistance training and brisk walking.
“Although you aren’t working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in Tai Chi strengthens your upper body,” says internist Dr. Gloria Yeh, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “Tai Chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen.”
Tai Chi can boost upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as strength.
Tai Chi improves balance and, according to some studies, reduces falls. Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one’s body in space — declines with age. Tai Chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments. Tai Chi also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble. Fear of falling can make you more likely to fall; some studies have found that Tai Chi training helps reduce that fear.
Depending on the speed and size of the movements, Tai Chi can provide some aerobic benefits. If your clinician advises a more intense cardio workout with a higher heart rate than Tai Chi can offer, you may need something more aerobic as well.
Chair Yoga/Aerobics – Ended December 2017.
$5 per person (OR $7 total to bring a friend)
Our chair yoga class is geared towards those individuals looking to gain flexibility, relaxation, and strength in a safe, seated environment. It is a great class for those with poor balance, joint pain, weakness, and wheelchair-bound clients. Class size is limited to 10 people; this allows for a more hands-on approach for those needing assistance.
Some common benefits of yoga:
A recent Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. And it doesn’t take long: The researchers believe the changes occurred while participants were still on the mat, and they were significantly greater than a control group who went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music. Yoga also helps to boost immunity by simply increasing overall health, says Mitchel Bleier, a yoga teacher of 18 years and owner of Yogapata in Connecticut. “As you breathe better, move better and circulate better, all the other organs function better.”
Research shows that migraine sufferers have fewer and less painful migraines after three months of yoga practice. The cause of migraines isn’t fully understood, but Bleier says it could be a combination of mental stressors and physical misalignment that create migraines and other issues. Hunching over a computer or cell phone with your shoulders up and head forward causes overlifting of your trapezius and tightening of the neck. This pulls the head forward and creates muscle imbalances that can contribute to headaches and migraines.
Researchers from Harvard found that eight weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia. And another study found that twice-weekly yoga sessions helped cancer survivors sleep better and feel less fatigued. This can be attributed to yoga’s ability to help people deal with stress, says Bleier. “Sleep issues are like anxiety. Your head can’t stop spinning, you don’t know how to relax,” he says. “Breathing and mental exercises allow the mind to slow down, so you’re going to start to see yourself sleep better.”
Fight Food Cravings
Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, an awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. By causing breath awareness, regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection, Bleier says. The awareness can help you tune in to emotions involved with certain cravings, and yoga breathing exercises can help you slow down and make better choices when cravings strike.