Mind and Body Practices 101
Mind and body practices are a large and diverse group of procedures or techniques that are administered or taught by a trained practitioner or teacher. Examples include acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation, relaxation techniques, spinal manipulation, tai chi, or yoga.
Types of mind-body practices
Research findings suggest that several mind and body practices are helpful for a variety of conditions.
Acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic, such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. Acupuncture may also help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches. Overall, acupuncture appears to have a small or negligible effect on treating these types of pain.
Meditation may help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or insomnia as well reduce certain physical symptoms including (but not limited to) symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, or ulcerative colitis. Meditation may also benefit people with insomnia.
Tai chi appears to help improve balance and stability, reduce back pain and pain from knee osteoarthritis, and improve quality of life in some people with chronic illnesses.
Yoga may benefit people’s general wellness by relieving stress, supporting good health habits, and improving mental/emotional health, sleep, and balance. Yoga may also help with low-back pain and neck pain, anxiety or depressive symptoms associated with difficult life situations, quitting smoking, and quality of life for people with chronic diseases.
Are mind and body practices safe?
Mind and body practices generally have good safety records when done properly by a trained professional or taught by a well-qualified instructor. However, just because a practice is safe for most people doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe for you.
What if I have a medical condition?
Your medical conditions and/or any other special circumstances (such as pregnancy) may affect the safety of a mind and body practice. When considering mind and body practices, talk with your healthcare or Care Team provider. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.
When doing a guided mind and body practice, ask about the training and experience of the practitioner or teacher, and talk with that person about your individual needs. Also, don’t use a mind and body practice to postpone seeing a health care provider about a health problem.
Source: The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health