Over the past many years, mind-body wellness has opened new doors, not only for the fitness industry in general, but for every client it serves. While it’s conceivable that all forms of movement and fitness connect mind and body, formats developed over the past 10–15 years are much more specific to the task. Today, the “inner” exploration tied to the physical is holistic and inclusive, interwoven with elements such as meditation, mindful nutrition, self- efficacy and positive psychology. Successfully combined in a well-rounded plan for clients, it is a powerful package.
Students come to a restorative class to let go of the stresses of everyday life—including the need to do things right and the constant pressure to improve or to achieve. The teacher who understands that motivation can provide a yoga practice that goes well beyond a few relaxing stretches and gives students permission to truly let go.
While many think of happiness as elusive or random, you can learn daily methods for optimizing your joy and improving your well-being. A growing body of research in the field of positive psychology supports using specific techniques to increase gladness and life satisfaction. Practices that can enhance your daily pleasure include the following:
Single-task. Avoid doing several things at once. Overstimulation dilutes your ability to savor what you’re doing.
The use of drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorders among American children and adults is growing, with over 3 million Americans currently managing symptoms by taking stimulants that target the neurochemical dopamine. Effective nondrug methods are needed to help young adults with ADHD. In addition, healthy young people ought to have ways to improve attention without using performance-enhancing drugs.
Before you make your next important decision, consider enjoying 15 minutes of mindful meditation. People who take such a break are more likely to make smarter choices, according to a study reported in Psychological Science (2014; doi: 10.1177/0956797613503853). “We found that a brief period of mindfulness meditation can encourage people to make more rational decisions by considering the information available in the present moment, while ignoring some of the other concerns that typically exacerbate the ‘sunk cost bias,’” said lead study author Andrew C.
Qigong is another mind-body practice that may help people to manage stress, according to a research review of seven randomized, controlled trials available in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2014; doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-8). Researchers from the University of Hong Kong conducted the review to evaluate qigong’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety among healthy adults.
Mind-body teaching professionals should consider reaching out to more teens, since mindful practices often effectively reduce stress. In 2013, the Stress in AmericaTM survey included teens for the first time (n = 1,018) and found that stress among this age group is rising, with negative consequences for both schoolwork and home life. American teens—from as young as 13 years old— reported unhealthy levels of stress, lack of certainty regarding stress management techniques, and rising levels of stress symptoms that adversely impact health.
Interesting findings about the impact of starting a yoga practice on sleep issues and inflammation markers have resulted from a study of 200 female breast cancer survivors. Fatigue and sleep problems pose significant challenges for these women.
“This [study] showed that modest yoga practice over a period of several months could have substantial benefits for breast cancer survivors,” said lead study author Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus, in an OSU news release.
If you view food as medicine and a way of life, nutrition takes on a different meaning and purpose. Nourishing the physical being is only one aspect of the eating experience. When you expand your viewpoint, your relationship to food and eating becomes a reflection of how you live. Cravings, aversions and preferred eating environments provide messages on a deeper level. Food becomes a potential pathway for healing and self-exploration.