Yoga – the word holds connotations of deep breathing, stillness, meditation and the silent surrounds of India’s mountaintops or colorful Mandalas. Well, this isn’t for everyone.
Many people prefer to maintain a healthy body with low impact workouts, such as yoga, because of its mind-body-spirit health benefits. However, there are plenty of alternative low impact workouts which offer these same benefits.
Low impact exercise is typically less hard on the body, especially our joints, and can be a great way to get in a heart-pumping workout while reducing the risk of injury.
Let’s look at some great alternatives to taking a yoga class to keep things varied and full o’ fun, while still connecting to our mind or spirit.
Pilates focuses on the breath with movements to enhance the mind-body connection. Effective in reducing stress and tension, Pilates increases flexibility, improves core strength, posture and other structural problems, and may reduce lower-back pain. Pilates routines, just like yoga, vary between moderate and advanced classes which can sculpt a more toned, flexible, functional, and all around healthier body.
What’s a more wonderful way to express yourself and your feelings than through bodily movements and dance. There are endless choices, so if you don’t have a specific style in mind, try classes until you find a class and teacher that you enjoy.
All forms of dance has the potential to integrate the body, mind, and spirit, and leave you feeling energized and transformed! From ballroom dancing to hip hop, ballet and zumba, dancing is such an enjoyable way to keep fit.
If your body responds well to soft, gentle movement, the martial arts practice of Tai Chi emphasizes balance, concentration, and fluid movements. Your focus will be on your own slow, repeated, and meditative movements. Tai Chi helps to build strength, flexibility, balance, and may benefit medical conditions including arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, sleep problems, stress and anxiety, and improve quality of life for cancer patients.
Like Tai Chi, Qigong is a Chinese martial art that focuses on energy, or ‘Qi.’ Qigong is different from Tai Chi in the sense that it’s even gentler, the movements are simpler, and it is more adaptive in the sense that literally anyone who can take deep breaths can practice Qi Gong in some form. If other forms of exercise are difficult or not an option for you, or if your primary focus is stress reduction and relaxation, Qi Gong may be a perfect fit.
Kayaking: Include mind/body connection to nature. Want to actually hit the water? Grab a kayak and jump on in! Kayaking works the arms and core (no crunches necessary) and can burn up to 400 calories an hour while seeing some stellar sights.
Swimming: Skip the pool floats and start doing laps. Swimming is a great low-impact exercise with a boatload of benefits, from strengthening the shoulders to improving lung function. There are many reasons for this, but in a nutshell there are very few things you can do that are low impact and utilise almost every moving part of your body, whilst balancing the whole time. Add to this the fact that it is easy and just about anyone can do it, and you have the ingredients for a fitness revolution.
Stand Up Paddling: There are not many sports/acitivites where you can possibly can gain such a high level of fitness without even noticing you are doing it. Stand up paddle surfing offers a total core and cardiovascular workout. Flat water stand up paddling works your entire body and mind.
So the next time you exercise, focus solely on your breath, the sensations in your body, and clearing your mind. That’s all there is to it to connect body and mind during your workout. And not a yoga mat in sight!