Practicing yoga or tai chi 20 minutes each morning can help reduce stress, improve strength, limberness, provide better immune function and lower blood pressure.
The major benefit of yoga and tai chi is that they combine key elements of exercise - aerobic, strength training, core stability, flexibility and balance - into unified approaches.
Certain benefits, particularly stress reduction, can be seen in as little as one day.
People report better sleep and improvements in digestive health within the first few days.
Better digestive health can mean better bowel function and decreased constipation.
Practicing yoga and tai chi regularly may help reverse some effects of aging, such as restricted and narrowed movements.
After 10 to 12 weeks of regular sessions, practitioners often notice significant health benefits in other areas.
For example, a study of yoga and people who experience migraines found that those doing yoga had less frequent and less intense headaches than did those taking medication.
Also, those who practiced yoga saw improvements in anxiety and depression. Yoga and tai chi can improve bone density and cardiovascular health and decrease blood pressure.
The best way to learn yoga or tai chi is by taking a class or working with a qualified instructor. These classes, which teach the art of breathing, meditation and posing, are offered at many health clubs and senior centers and through community education.
he benefits of yoga and tai chi have been described in the October issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.