Most exercise has calming benefits, but you don't have to hit the treadmill for hours, or take a high-impact aerobics class to pound and punch out your stress. Why not try one or more of these three gentle natural therapies that offer a complete mind-body workout and long-lasting stress-reducing results?
The aim of this 8000-year-old exercise system is to harmonise the body and mind through meditation and slow, graceful movements.
Tai Chi is based on the Taoist philosophy of yin (cool, dark, negative energy) and yang (hot, light, positive energy) - two polar types of energy that are believed to exist in everything in the universe.
The goal of Tai Chi is to balance these energies. In so doing, the natural balance of the body and mind is restored and stress is reduced.
By focusing on the controlled movements, your mind is distracted from whatever tension or stress you may be experiencing. Tai chi is great for stress-related disorders like headaches and stomach ulcers and is even used by cancer patients in China.
This therapy was developed 100 years ago by an Australian actor Frederick Alexander. It will teach you how to deal physically with everyday situations, including how you sit, how you walk and how you lift things.
The aim of this therapy is to reteach your body the natural, relaxed poise that you had as a child.
By improving one's posture, the Alexander Technique will eliminate the physical symptoms of stress, such as backache and muscle tension in the neck. A person is taught how to loosen one's neck and free one's head. This will promote a sense of calm, improve your posture and encourage better breathing.
Pilates combines systems of springs and pulleys to lengthen and tone muscles with floor-based stretching exercises.Both Tai Chi and Pilates concentrate on breathing.
Pilates, like the Alexander Technique, will also radically improve your posture and realign your body. You will feel healthier and more relaxed. While performing all the stretching exercises, energy is released and this energy helps to dissipate stress and muscle tension.
Build your therapy into your normal exercise regime, by alternating with resistance work and two or three aerobic sessions per week.