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Food-for-Thought Friday: Moves to Boost Mindfulness

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Mindfulness (Image: iStock.com/PeopleImages)

You’re familiar with the saying “mind over matter,” but the health of your mind and body are connected. Poor mental health can spread negative energy to your body, just as having physical difficulties can lead to stress and depression. For a healthy mind-body balance, practice these five easy moves to boost your mindfulness.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are a variety of types of meditation, but most have four elements in common: a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; a specific, comfortable posture; a focus; and an open attitude.

Note that mindfulness doesn’t have to come from meditation. If you’re easily distracted while meditating, try yoga and other forms of mindful exercise that include gentle movements, like tai chi or qigong. These forms of exercise improve the body’s flow of energy, or qi, with fluid movements that opened up muscles, joints and tendons. They’ve also been found to improve everything from sleep habits and heart health, to immune system response and overall happiness.

These are some of our favorite poses:

Gaze at the Moon. Pretend you’re holding a ball, with your arms slightly in front of your legs. Breathe in and lift the imaginary ball up and to your left. Don’t move your feet. Keep your eyes in the gap between your hands, and then breathe out as you return your arms and gaze back to their original position. Repeat the same lifting gesture to the right as you inhale. Bring your arms and your attention back down as you exhale.

Paint a Rainbow. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, extending both arms in front of you. As you breathe in, arch your right arm over your head and extend your left arm outward. Switch the direction of your arms as you breathe out, until your left arm arches over your head and your right arm is extended. To get the most out of these movements, repeat each eight times. Remember to breathe deeply throughout.

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