It has been proven that people who exercise regularly not only keep their bodies healthy, but they are more alert, have better memories and seem to age more slowly. There are certain forms of exercise that take a holistic approach to fitness, combining the healthy body, healthy mind concept. This article looks at three of these forms – sundo, yoga and tai chi.
Sun Do originated in Manchuria over 6000 years ago. It aims to develop inner and outer strength, compassion for others and the spreading of peace. Training is based on learning to breathe like a baby, or what Sun Do practitioners call “belly breathing.” In this form of breathing the abdomen rises when you breathe in, and falls when you breathe out. As you master “belly breathing”, it is believed that you store energy in your “Ha Dan Jun”, which can be used in your daily occupation.
The benefits of Sun Do are:
- Increased strength, flexibility and vitality
- Improved mental and physical health
- Reduced tension and stress
- Reduced risk of energy and quicker recovery if injured
(information from www.sundo.com.au)
More widely known is the practice of yoga, which has its origin in Hindu philosophy, and is said to have begun in India over 5000 years ago. Like Sun Do, it stresses abdominal breathing and proper posture. The name yoga is derived from the Sanskrit “yuj”, which means to yoke or join the body with the infinite spirit of the universe. Over the years, many different forms of yoga have evolved. Today, many physiotherapy clinics use yoga exercises for purely physical reasons – to promote strength, flexibility and reduce tension, and they report good results.
Another mind-body exercise that has grown in popularity in recent years is tai chi. This form of exercise which originated in China has spread worldwide. It is embraced by a lot of elderly people because of its gentle, low-impact moves. Developed originally for self defence, tai chi, like yoga, has evolved into different forms over the years, but its basis remains in bringing the mind and the body into harmony through graceful movements and proper breathing. Tai chi is also employed by many physiotherapists to improve patients’ posture, balance and flexibility, and decrease muscle tension and stress.
Regardless of your age and health condition, such activities can be beneficial in many and wonderful ways. Try and see which ones are right for you.