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Breathing, Meditation and Relaxation Techniques to Improve Mind and Body Health

Whether you are preparing for deployment or reintegration, it’s important to consider how mind and body practices may assist you in staying mission ready. Research has shown that these practices, like yoga and meditation, may be helpful for a variety of conditions. They may help reduce the severity of occupational stress, relax your mind, assist in your recovery, facilitate a boost in performance and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. In this article, learn the basics of mind and body practices, how they may benefit your health and tips to get you started.

What Are Mind and Body Practices?

Mind and body practices are a diverse group of medical and non-medical health care practices that may be used as a supplement to conventional medicine. These practices and techniques focus on holistic health and wellness approaches — often including psychological, emotional, functional, spiritual, social and community aspects. Below are a few common examples and their potential health benefits.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises may help control the body’s reaction to stress by managing the body’s “fight or flight” response. Certain breathing techniques may positively impact certain physiological factors like blood pressure, heart rate and muscle relaxation. Breathing exercises may also help you manage anxiety, improve concentration and reduce symptoms associated with insomnia. Learn how you might boost your performance with this instructional video on breathing strategies from Human Performance Resources by CHAMP (HPRC).

Meditation

Meditation is a technique used for increasing calmness and physical relaxation. Meditation may be effective for improving focus and, as a supplement to treatment, easing anxiety or depression. It may also help manage transition, reintegration or occupational stress. Check out the National Center for PTSD’s Mindfulness Coach app and DHA Connected Health’s Virtual Hope Box app for mindfulness meditation tools on the go.

Yoga

There are many different types of yoga practice, including some that focus on fitness, healing or meditation. In general, yoga may benefit your health by lowering blood pressure, relieving stress, improving psychological and emotional health, sleep and balance. Practicing yoga regularly may improve your posture, and increase energy levels, flexibility and strength. Try out HPRC’s video series on yoga sequences to learn the basics.

5 Tips to Start a Mind and Body Practice

Talk with your healthcare provider. Consult with your healthcare provider to confirm yoga and other practices are suitable for you. For information on choosing a complementary health practitioner or program, check out the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s tips for selecting a practitioner.

Find a quiet space. Remove distractions to help you focus during your practice. This may be particularly helpful for beginners in yoga and meditation.

Get comfortable. Find a comfortable posture for meditation and breathing exercises. Depending upon the type being practiced, it may be done while sitting, lying down, standing, walking or in other positions.

Have an open attitude. Let distractions come and go naturally without judgement during your practice. Remember to be kind to yourself if you get distracted during meditation or find a certain yoga pose challenging.

Listen to your body. Tune in to your body and how you are feeling. Focus on controlling your breathing throughout the practice. During yoga, ease into the positions and avoid pushing yourself too far in a stretch.

Additional Resources

Sources

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (n.d.). 8 Things to Know About Meditation for Health.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2018, July). Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s in a Name?

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016, April). Meditation: In Depth.

Human Performance Resources by CHAMP. (2020, April 28). Boost Your Performance with Yoga.

Human Performance Resources by CHAMP. (2020, April 28). Mindfulness for the Military.

Human Performance Resources by CHAMP. (2020, April 29). Tactical Breathing for the Military.