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Holistic Exercises And Activities

   By: A. Burchard &


Yoga is a series of exercises based on the idea that the mind and body are united. There are several different types of yoga – some are more physically demanding while others are more mentally demanding. There are also several different positions of yoga, and there are various positions one can perform when standing, sitting, or even lying down.

The purpose of yoga is to perfectly align the body so all the systems can normalize and interact simultaneously. Advantages of trying yoga include:
1) decreased hypertension
2) increased cardiovascular function
3) increased flexibility
4) improved general physical fitness

Basic exercises
Yoga is more effective when done in proper sequences. For one example, begin in easy position, sitting in a comfortable position with the legs crossed. After each step, breathe and hold for a few breaths.

1) Take deep breathes while relaxing the back
2) Move onto the hands and knees, the table position.
3) While inhaling, arch the spine, stomach down, and put pressure on the hands.
4) Exhale while inverting the spine and let the head hang.
5) Exhale into downward facing dog, where both hands and feet touch the floor in a v-shape.
6) Inhale and bring one foot far forward to the low lunge.
7) Inhale and bring the arms above the head, crossing the palms – the half warrior position.
8) Step back into downward facing dog
9) Place the shins on the floor and hug the knees into the chest.
10) Slide the arms forward, and arch the back into the cobra position.
11) Extend the legs while exhaling, place the chin and the floor and try to elevate the feet.
12) Exhale and roll over onto the back, letting the arms relax, breathe slowly, and hold for 10 minutes.

Yoga can also help with problems such as depression and anxiety. In addition to the physical exercises, most techniques focus on either repeating monosyllabic mantras or on trying to clear the mind. Controlled breathing may help this. Pranayama, meaning “control of life force energy,” are breathing exercises designed to purify the body. Whlie practicing Pranayama, breath with the nose and sit with a straight, yet relaxed back.

Dirga – take three quick, continuous breaths, one in the low stomach, then the low chest, and finally the low throat.

Ujjayi – breathe out while whispering the letter “h”

Nadi Sodhana – while closing one nostril, breathe in through the other, switch,and repeat

Sit Cari – while inhaling, curl the tongue upward, clench the teeth and part the lips; exhale through the nose

As opposed to more traditional workouts, yoga:
1) involves a low risk of injury
2) helps the body feels energized after workouts, as opposed to worn out
3) balances activity of muscle groups.


Reiki is more of an activity or treatment than an exercise. Like yoga, it is based on the idea that the body and mind are united, and function as one. Reiki treatments usually take 45 to 90 minutes, depending on what the client needs.

Treatments are usually done while lying down. The teacher places his or her hands on the clients’ stomach, arms, legs and head, in various positions, to create the healing feeling, which can relieve tension and anxiety. It is often done in combination with psychotherapy or medications. During a reiki treatment, it is common to feel like you are “floating” or “out of your body,” and sometimes even drift off to sleep because of the high level of inner peace. Afterwards, one usually feels energized but relaxed.
One can also take reiki classes in order to teach the treatment. There are four levels to reiki, and a class usually consists of about six to seven hours of learning over one to two days. The learning takes place through an “attunement” with the teacher. This means that the reiki energy is transferred from the teacher to the student. The teacher places his or her hands on the student’s shoulders, head, and hands, and the student receives the energy.


This type of exercise is more active and physically demanding than yoga, but has the same overall goal of both yoga and reiki – to unite the mind and body.

Pilates have become more popular in recent years, but dancers have been unknowingly using them as warm-up exercises for years. Pilates use more props than yoga, as well, because it is usually done on mats, and there are often machines involved. Machines create resistance through the use of springs, which aids the workout. Health benefits of Pilates include increased flexibility and increased overall strength without adding to the body’s bulk.

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