AI CHI AS THE NEW YOGA
When the world looks for a way to find an exercise that gives outer strength, inner strength, and spiritual well-being, we often look east towards Asia. The Indian practice of yoga has become so popular that even non-practitioners know the nomenclature (“Namaste”) and wear the outfits. But yoga is very popular and no longer just among Indians or women looking for a new way to stretch out. Both sexes use it and both women and men say that it makes their body lither and clears their heads. Yoga is very popular, but not the only way for a person to get their mind and body in order. Ai Chi moves are similar to Tai Chi moves and it uses breathing and exercise in the water for the individual. Is Ai Chi a substitute for yoga? Is it the new yoga?
Ai Chi was started in back in the mid-1980s by a Japanese man named Jun Kunno. Kunno was looking for a water-based therapy that could give the benefits of a massage-based therapy without the touching. The key to therapy was to get the practitioner to relax while at the same time working the muscles. Just like Tai Chi and many other Asian exercise programs, Ai Chi focuses on moving continuously. Doing this underwater gives it a relaxing aspect which can make the therapy to people of a wide age range, up to and including the very elderly.
How does Ai Chi compare to Yoga? Both use breathing as one of the keys to the exercise. Both also use movement. This is where the differences really begin. Yoga uses movement to get into position and which the person than holds. This is how yoga gives its full potential to create the positive energy. This energy helps gives the Yoga student his or her spiritual fulfillment. Ai Chi, on the other hand, creates energy and relaxation through continuous movement.
The spiritual side of both yoga and Ai Chi both are both buttressed by their meditative aspects. While one is doing these routines, they are also meditating, clearing the mind of those everyday problems that are adding to the stress in their lives. The goal of each is to walk away at peace with one’s self that will carry on from this session to the next.
What about the long term benefits? Both have proven as treatments for some of the more common and chronic medical conditions. Ai Chi can help lower blood pressure and the symptoms of arthritis. It’s even given Parkinson’s disease sufferers relief. Yoga is also known to help relieve blood pressure, relieve chronic muscle pain, and give relief to those sufferings from depression. It also helps give some pain relief to those suffering from heart disease and cancer. Therefore, in this respect, both Ai Chi and Yoga can give you similar benefits.
Aside from the movements, there is a huge difference. Ai Chi is done in a pool, where the session begins as students stand in water up to their shoulders. Someone who practices Yoga (a yogi) will be seen walking around with a mat to their local ashram or Yoga studio, which could be anywhere. So Ai Chi has some disadvantage in that the user must have the access to a pool. On the other hand, this gives Ai Chi more universal appeal to a larger crowd. Founder Kuonno intended that his new program using the relaxing powers of water to make his therapy work. Anyone who has been in a pool knows how relaxing the water can be, and this goes for people of all ages. Therefore Ai Chi has an appeal for octogenarians who might find the poses of Yoga a bit of stretch.
Benefits of an Ai Chi Regime
As we have stated above, Ai Chi uses the holistic approach to health combining movement, spiritual, and mental. How does it accomplish these benefits? Well, water gives resistance, so as one is moving in it, the action gives the muscles an additional workout. Yet, while one is the water, one is able to position oneself in positions not as easily achieved through yoga.
There are 19 movements to Ai Chi. They are done in progression, starting with the upper torso while the body remains static. When these are completed, the pupil moves to exercises that simulate the land-based Tai Chi, moving the body around. Because one is in the water as these movements progress, balance can be easily maintained. The soothing aspects of being in the water are also an advantage.
So will yogis turn in their mats for a trip to the pool? Both are great ways to improve your life without resorting to traditional medicine or pharmaceuticals. Both use a holistic approach to change the adopter’s outlook on life as well as limber up the body.
The difference may come down to demographics. When someone thinks of yoga, they think of a young woman with a Yoga mat heading to a workout in her yoga pants. On the other hand, any sort of pool exercise is linked to an older bunch in the local pool. Putting aside which one has more health benefits, as long as an exercise is linked to the retirement crowd, the advantage will go to yoga. But stay tuned, utility sometimes wins.
This article was written by Nina Wells from Clearwells. She has over 10 years’ experience in writing health related topics and specializes in the health benefits of saunas and hydrotherapy.
BENEFITS OF AQUATIC EXERCISE POST PHYSICAL THERAPY
Water therapy isn’t new; it’s a method which has been used for thousands of years all over the world. Bathing in spring water was known to help Romans and Greeks to treat illness, thermal waters in Sweden were used to treat their ill and elderly, Japanese early on recognized the mental and physical benefits of their hot springs (referred to as onsen) and in Germany physicians widely prescribed a variety of water therapies. Aquatic exercise is often used as a remedy for sore joints and muscles, is a great way to improve muscle tone, and is incredibly low impact. The resistance provided by water means that you can get a great workout without having to bother about using weights or suffering further injury by misjudging your ability. Exercise done in a pool, lake or ocean can improve your flexibility, balance, and coordination. It can also help build up your endurance, assist with proper gait and maintain or improve mobility. You’ll probably also notice that your exercises performed in water allow you to reduce your stress level and is a wonderful way to promote relaxation. Your natural buoyancy means that you can go through your motions with a decreased gravitational pull, lessening compression and making exercises easier to do than if you were on land.
If you’ve suffered an injury, stroke, or some other type of condition and have completed your physical therapy, aquatic exercise can be a wonderful next step. There are several benefits to exercise in your local pool or body of water;
Your body has an incredible number of nerve endings in both your muscles and your skin. The pressure from being submerged in water creates constant stimulus, and your brain will be inclined to dull the part of the nervous system that is responsible for managing tactile sensory neurons so as to not feel overwhelmed. This allows you to stretch and move with less pain that you may otherwise be experiencing. Even those sensitive or averse to being touched often feel more at ease while exercising in a pool as their physical senses are dulled.
Your heart and lungs work harder under water than on land because your chest cavity is under constant increased pressure from being submerged in water. (This means that one workout can have further reaching benefits than the same workout on land.) Think of the pool as a compression bandage for your entire body, which helps to alleviate some of the chronic pain you may be feeling, allowing you to reach further and work harder. The increased blood flow from the compression on your heart and lungs will help to pump oxygen rich blood to your extremities, something that can go great lengths with the healing process.
You won’t need to have exercise equipment to get a fantastic workout that touches every muscle in your body and allows you a wide range of movement. Your muscles will recover faster in less pain, and you don’t have to worry about falling as the water helps you to maintain balance. You’re forced to move a lot more slowly while submerged in water, and this means that your brain and muscles have more time to process each and every movement, building a far better muscle memory as you go along. You’re also more likely to perform each movement with more precision, and have time to focus on form.
With many exercises, you tend to focus on one or another muscle or part of your body instead of using your entire body at once. Being in the water helps you to locate and make use of your core, and generally the movements allow for your entire body or many more groups of muscles to be addressed at once.
One of the pleasant side effects of being in water is the massage that water can give. Even a gentle flow or waves being produced from exercising bodies can give enough of a current that feels nice and can help relax tired or sore muscles. Buoyancy also helps relieve pressure on the feet, ankles and legs.
Let’s not forget that being in a pool is just plain fun. The enjoyment that can be had during an exercise class; either as part of a group or solo, can be a part of the day that you’ll look most forward to. The fact that you feel better and better after each session will give you the motivation you need to go back and make further progress. Almost any exercise that you can do in a gym has an alternate under the water. The more pleasant and enjoyable your exercise is, the more likely it will be that you’ll stick with it on your road back to good health and well-being.
This article was written by Nina Wells from Vidalux. She has over 10 years’ experience in writing health related topics and specializes in the health benefits of saunas and hydrotherapy.
STARR GETS CERTIFIED BY THE AQUATIC EXERCISE ASSOCIATION
Paradise is proud to announce that Starr Nixdorf has completed and been certified by the Aquatic Exercise Association's AFP (Aquatic Fitness Professional) Practical & Skills Application Course in Visalia, CA, on June 1st, 2014. Starr also attended courses for Upper Body, Core & More which expands on her Pilates and Yoga instructor background, and the Aquabata Shallow program.
AquaBata takes the latest trend in fitness, Tabata, to the water. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), including the specialized Tabata format, transitions into the water with high-powered results. According to the AEA, "Dr Izumi Tabata conducted a study to determine if very short, very high intensity bouts of training, followed by even shorter rest periods, could benefit the elite athletes of the Japanese speed skating team. Results were published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, and showed that the subjects improved VO2 max, this in turn translated into improved performance on the ice. The other interesting finding was the Tabata Protocol improved both the anaerobic energy system (responsible for short, high intensity exercise, such as sprints) and the aerobic energy system (used for endurance exercise, such as distance running). Results from this 1996 study showed a 28 percent increase in anaerobic capacity and a 14 percent increase in VO2 max in six weeks."