Low Impact Exercises
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Many people are turning to lower impact approaches to address their health concerns.

Two systems of movement derived from Asia are growing in popularity around the world. Both can be geared to fragile populations or elite athletes as well as the spectrum between the two.

Ta'i Chi is discipline which developed in China as a means to personal harmony. It typically utilizes slow graceful movements derived from martial techniques. Originally Taiji Chuan, it has been practiced in various forms for hundreds of years. Some practicioners continue the discipline as a self defense system. It is now used more commonly for its holistic effects. The slow graceful movements are thought to stimulate the internal energy known as "chi."

Ta'i Chi has been subjected to clinical trials and has proven to decrease the incidence of falling in elderly populations. Other studies have suggested that the practice increases cardiovascular capacity.

It is a practice usually consisting of a form, a series of movements placed in a particular order. The same form, lasting from 5 to 15 minutes and usually consisting of fewer than 30 movements, is practiced each day. The practice is low impact yet can be sufficiently challenging for all levels of fitness.

It is often practiced by groups but is a very individual experience. Considered an "internal" martial art, the movements become a meditative practice allowing clarity of mind and sense of personal well being. 
 

Yoga is a practice dating back thousands of years. It was originally a physical movement system to address the physical pain of long hours of meditative practice. Over time some schools of yoga become much more focused on the physical practice of the discipline.

The most common form of yoga practiced in the west, Hatha yoga, emphasizes postures called asanas to stretch and strengthen the body. More recently the role that stress plays in decreasing our well being has become more apparent. Many people are turning to yoga as a way to manage stress.

A complete practice will include building awareness of emotional, mental, physical, energetic and spiritual well being. The breath serves as link between the body and the mind in gaining awareness. Our most accessible avenue is the physical body and the postures allow further insight to the mind and spirit.

Yoga can be very gentle or highly physical depending upon the style and the individual. The non-competitive nature makes it ideal as a restorative discipline.

Both techniques offer physical and mental benefits. They can be practiced throughout a lifetime by people of all abilities. They lend themselves to social or individual settings.