Among the various mind-body approaches out there, yoga and meditation-based therapies show the most promise for helping people to quit smoking, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s NCCAM Clinical Digest in January 2014. While more studies are needed, a research review of 14 clinical trials by investigators from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland found positive results from the practices of yoga, meditation and breathing exercises for people wanting to kick the smoking habit.
Ai chi, a form of water exercise developed by Jun Konno and inspired by tai chi, qigong and Watsu®, may benefit people with multiple sclerosis, according to preliminary research published in NeuroRehabilitation (2013; 33, 431–37).
Heart disease patients improve their odds. With growing research supporting the long-term health benefits of meditation, doctors may soon be prescribing the practice as a means of stress reduction for patients with heart disease.
Meditation may be as effective as drug therapy for people with mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a comprehensive review of studies that together included 3,515 participants. The review was published in JAMA Internal Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1001/jamaintern med.2013.13018).
Does tai chi practice offer adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) an effective way of improving exercise capacity and overall quality of life? A special report published in Expert Reviews (2013; 7 : 587–92) addresses this question.
Scientists are beginning to identify the physical changes—on a molecular level—that result from mindful meditation practice and, in so doing, are enhancing our understanding of how a consistent meditation practice benefits health.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression . . . associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” said study author Richard J. Davidson, PhD, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in a University
of Wisconsin news release.
Pilates is a great tool for every body and provides many benefits for the over- weight. Ten years ago, my naturopath, Carol (who was obese), asked if I would teach her Pilates. I told her I had never worked with anyone so large, and that I would no doubt make many mistakes, but if she would go on the journey with me, I would be honored to teach her.
Does Pilates—with its emphasis on precision, concentration and memorization of movement patterns—enhance brain function as well as physical function? Scientists from Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao, China, and Beijing Normal University in Beijing wanted to find out.
Flexibility, balance, strength and endurance are common components of a yoga class. The poses alone provide an excellent workout, but if you’re ready for something different, consider adding stability balls to your practice. This is a fun way to recruit core musculature, incorporate more balance work, and increase range of motion.
Yoga on the Ball Details
GOAL/EMPHASIS: a basic yoga practice incorporating the stability ball TIME: 45–60 minutes (can be shorter or longer depending on how many reps you do or how long you hold poses)