Be still or be ill. Meditation and yoga can help you experience a deep state of relaxation and better health.

A meditation a day can keep the doctor away.

Research was carried out at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine where 4,400 patients were trained to practice deep relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation by their healthcare providers. A control group of 13,000 patients were studied who were not practicing relaxation techniques. Researchers found after a year, those practicing relaxation had their visits to the doctor dropped by 42 percent, lab tests by 44 percent and procedures by 21 percent. Health service use by the second group remained the same. Also, emergency hospital visits dropped to about 1.7 a year from 3.7 in the year before practicing relaxation techniques.

Patients who experienced the most beneficial reductions were those with cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neurologic and gastrointestinal issues.

“Evidence over the last few decades has linked practices like meditation and yoga to beneficial physiological changes in the body ranging from better cardiac function to reduced inflammation,” said Dr. James Stah, Director of the Institute for Technology Assessment at Massachusetts General.

Meditation OR Yoga?

Although meditation and yoga might seem quite different approaches, they both achieve one similar and important goal; they relax both the body and mind at the same time. Since the mind and body are intimately connected, when you relax the mind, the body follows. When you relax the body, the mind follows.

Most yoga traditions also contain within them, some time for meditation.

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Meditation, Found to Be Helpful For Better Health in Many Studies

Note: There are many different kinds of meditations available, each with a different goal and they thus will direct your mind to focus and ‘let go’ in different ways. Shop around to find one that suits your personality and lifestyle.

If you would like to start meditating, here is a place to start:

Free Guided Meditations at UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center

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Yoga, a Mind and Body Practice, Can Be Helpful For Better Health

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says yoga:

  • Can reduce low-back pain and improve function.
  • May lower depression, stress and insomnia.
  • Lower heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Improve overall physical fitness, strength and flexibility.

To learn more about the benefits of yoga, watch this video: Scientific Results of Yoga for Health and Well-Being Video

Please Note: We all have different bodies with different needs and abilities. Carefully consider the type of yoga for you and select an instructor who is experienced and attentive to help you in practicing yoga that will work best for you. If you have a medical condition, talk to your health care provider before starting yoga. Be especially careful about doing hot yoga as people with heart disease, lung disease or a history of heatstroke may want to avoid this form of yoga. Pregnant women please check with your health care provider before starting hot yoga.

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Is It Cost Effective?

When there are less health problems, the cost of drugs, surgery, ambulances and a hospital stay will be less. A limitation of this study is that it did not take into account the cost of the relaxation training. In my opinion, it would be better to deal with health issues with relaxation techniques rather than prescriptions, doctors, lab reports and spending time in the hospital. It is time for health plans to include and pay for relaxation techniques instead.

Another very simple thing you can do is breathing deeply. This helped me very much and I HAD to learn this because of severe health problems due to my shallow breathing. Learn the 13 Health Benefits of Deep Breathing and how to do so.

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