Tai chi qi gong can reduce blood pressure, which may help prevent serious conditions such as stroke and heart attack.

Qi Gong for Treating and Preventing Hypertension

Qi gong tai chi has a wide variety of benefits, including improving balance and flexibility, reducing stress, easing pain and enhancing your general sense of well-being. So, it's not surprising that the medical community often utilizes the mind-body practice in therapeutic and treatment plans for patients suffering from everything from osteoporosis to insomnia. But tai chi exercises can also be beneficial for people diagnosed with hypertension.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a very common but serious condition that involves a high flow of blood through narrow arteries. It can lead to a plethora of medical issues, such as stroke and heart attack. However, it is treatable with medications, an improved diet, regular exercise and other lifestyle changes. That's where qi gong can help.

One of the greatest benefits of qi gong tai chi exercises is the ability to reduce stress and encourage calmness through soothing movements and slow breathing exercises. Finding a greater sense of relaxation is essential in lowering blood pressure. Additionally, the ancient practice serves as a potent form of physical activity, which strengthens the heart, helps you lose weight, lowers cholesterol and is medically proven to reduce blood pressure.

The medical benefits of qi gong on hypertension patients has been supported by clinical trials. According to a randomized study published by the National Institutes of Health, the practice lowers blood pressure by enhancing relaxation and providing vigorous physical activity. Nearly 90 patients diagnosed with mild hypertension were assigned either qi gong tai chi exercises or traditional exercises for a period of four months. The results showed that both groups saw significant improvements in their blood pressure levels, not to mention lower anxiety and depression as well as an increase in general overall health. For this reason, researchers believe that tai chi is an effective form of physical exercise that can serve as an alternative to drug intervention.

Along with helping ease hypertension, qi gong tai chi can be useful in reducing your risk of developing this life-threatening condition. Dahn Yoga classes are particularly beneficial for those looking for treatment or prevention of high blood pressure. By incorporating yoga poses (which are also proven to help reduce hypertension), meridian stretching, core energy breathing and mindful meditation, it can help you find relief from anxiety, become more physically fit and gain control of your blood pressure levels.

Brown University researchers are presenting a methodology that uses meditation techniques to treat psychiatric disorders.

Can Meditation Be Used as a Diagnostic Tool?

The medical community as well as meditation expert Ilchi Lee have long embraced the many meditation benefits for health, from its ability to lower blood pressure to its capacity to strengthen the immune system. The practice, which involves training the mind to reach new levels of consciousness, has been incorporated into therapeutic treatment plans by doctors around the globe. But now researchers are coming up with whole new ways to turn meditation into an effective tool in treating mental conditions.

A group of researchers at Brown University have devised a methodology that uses meditation techniques and brain activity tracking to control certain psychiatric disorders. Mental conditions are often linked to specific patterns in the brain, and scientists believe that learning to control those patterns can mean learning to control psychiatric conditions. In the researchers' abstract, they explain that the methodology looks at how meditators focus their breathing while engaging in the practice – whether they breathe in their noses or their bellies.

"We found that when students focused on the breath in the belly their descriptions of experience focused on attention to specific somatic areas and body sensations," the researchers wrote. "When students described practice experiences related to a focus on the nose during meditation, they tended to describe a quality of mind, specifically how their attention 'felt' when they sensed it."

After engaging in meditation techniques, the participants give reports about their experiences, describing where they focused their breathing and the sensations they felt. That information is then compared to analysis of brain imaging data collected using magnetic resonance imaging. In general, when people report feelings of effortlessness and undistracted mindfulness during their meditation session, there's little activity in the posterior cingulate cortex, whereas those who have trouble concentrating and feel distracted tend to have high activity in this cortex. With practice, people can train this region of the brain and actually control how active or inactive the cortex is, which means it could be an effective way for people suffering from psychiatric disorders to alter their conditions and find relief from symptoms.

The researchers will present their new diagnostic approach at the International Scientific Conference of the Center for Mindfulness, which is run by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in early April.

While some exercises can destroy the body's cells and make you age faster, gentle exercises such as tai chi may be better for you.

Gentle Qi Gong Vs High-Endurance Exercises

Many people believe that the more intense an exercise, the better it is for your body. However, extreme physical activity can actually have negative effects, and many physicians and scientists are starting to learn that mellower workouts, such as qi gong tai chi exercises, are much more effective at helping people stay fit and live long, healthy lives.

According to an article by the Epoch Times, fast metabolism can actually make your body age faster. Strenuous physical activity boosts the metabolism, which can be good for maintaining a healthy weight. But the body's cells must divide and duplicate to replace those that are damaged during exercise. Unfortunately, they can only divide so many times before dying and, in effect, speeding up the aging process. For that reason, some doctors recommend less demanding routines, such as yoga poses, qi gong tai chi and swimming.

Dahn Yoga classes may prove particularly beneficial. By combining soothing postures, mindful meditation and deep breathing with the gentle movements of tai chi, these courses can provide you with enhanced energy, flexibility and muscle tone without overworking and killing off the body's cells.

Dahn Yoga exercises can help increase the strength of your hips, which means greater balance and flexibility.

Dahn Yoga Exercises for Healthier Hips

Dahn Yoga exercises are effective in increasing flexibility and helping you become more nimble and virile. Components of the classes such as meridian stretching, tapping and energy breathing help to loosen the joints and enhance core strength. But there are also special exercises you can do to improve the health of your hips specifically, and Dahn Yoga discusses these tactics in the February 2014 edition of its newsletter.

As the largest joint in the body, the hips support your body weight and allow you to maintain balance. In fact, they're essential in day-to-day activities such as standing and walking. Many people – especially older adults – suffer injuries to their hips, particularly those who have a hard time maintaining stability and experience falls. That's why it's so important to keep your hips in good working condition starting at a young age and as you continue to age through yoga poses, core-building exercises and other techniques.

In the Dahn Yoga Life article, the health and wellness leader emphasizes that the hips are also important for your creativity and ability to process emotion. That's because the joint is located at the lower Dahnjon – the part of the body that spurs the accumulation of energy and promotes circulation of your qi. When energy becomes stuck in the bladder and liver, people may experience hip pain and tension.

The newsletter shares ways you can make your hips stronger and more resilient by releasing this energy and focusing on and invigorating the large joint. There are a wide variety of yoga poses that can help. The forward butterfly bend, for instance, gives your qi a boost and helps it properly flow through the liver and kidney meridian points. The movement also stretches out your lower back and hips, which can lead to greater stability and a lower chance of breaks caused by falls.

Recognize National Sleep Awareness Week by checking out these Dahn Yoga exercises for getting a good night’s rest.

Slumber-Promoting Dahn Yoga Exercises for National Sleep Awareness Week

It's common knowledge that yoga benefits the mind and body. It can help improve circulation, flexibility and emotional control as well as provide relief from depression and anxiety. But another major perk is that it can contribute to a healthy sleep schedule, which is essential to all aspects of your wellness. It's important to understand the effect that restful slumber (or lack of it) has on your health and to spread the word to friends, family and others. That's why the National Sleep Foundation presents the annual National Sleep Awareness Week from March 2 through 9, ending on daylight savings time when Americans lose an hour. If you're someone who has trouble getting to bed at night, try some of these Dahn Yoga exercises to develop a steady sleep schedule:

Yoga
The health perks of yoga are well known, but the positive effect of the ancient practice on quality of sleep has been clinically proven. A 2004 study published by the National Institutes of Health looked at how 20 participants suffering from chronic insomnia were affected by 10 weeks of yoga, which included a private training session followed by at-home practice. Their sleep diaries revealed that yoga poses led to significant improvements in the ability to fall and stay asleep. Keep in mind that many people experience a burst of stamina after engaging in this soothing exercise, so it's best to do it earlier in the day so the energy wears off by the time you retire for the night.

Meditation
Those who practice meditation techniques for concentration often experience a clearer mind, an easing of the nerves and a greater sense of tranquility. This can be particularly beneficial for someone who lays in bed unable to sleep due to a clutter of thoughts in their heads. Engaging in evening meditation can not only help you cleanse your mind of negative thoughts, it releases stagnant energy from your body. Late in the day or before bed, create a relaxing environment that's quiet and dimly lit. Sit with your body firmly rooted to the ground, back straight and eyes closed, and relax and release the tension within. Allow yourself to be present in the moment and concentrate on your breathing.

Toe-Tapping
Those who have taken part in Dahn Yoga classes are likely familiar with toe-tapping. Many sessions start out with this technique – it can boost circulation in the legs and help balance your qi, which is a great warm-up for engaging in poses. But it can also put you in a state of greater peace and tranquility, which can help you fall asleep more easily and find relief from insomnia or restlessness. Just before bedtime, lie down or sit with your legs extended and heels together. Flex your feet before tapping your big toes together, then open your feet so that the sides of your feet touch the ground (much like a butterfly opening its wings). Repeat this motion 100 times.

Employees have reported feeling less stressed and depressed after incorporating meditation techniques into their daily routines.

Meditation for Work-Related Stress and Job Performance

Many companies utilize yoga poses in the work setting to help reduce tension and improve productivity. The soothing postures and deep breathing exercises enhance energy and and blood flow, providing workers with a boost of vibrancy. Additionally, the meditation element of yoga clears the mind and improves focus, and new research provides evidence for meditation's capacity to reduce work-related stress.

According to a study published in the The Permanente Journal in 2014, engaging in meditation regularly may help you counter anxiety caused by your job. The examination involved 40 secondary school teachers and other staff members from Bennington School in Vermont. Half engaged in a transcendental meditation course overseen by certified instructors, conducting the practice for 20 minutes twice each day for four months. The other half did no take the class.

Those who incorporated meditation techniques into their daily routines reported feeling significantly less stressed. On average, participants had stress levels of 39 on a 40-point scale at the start of the program. Meditation students experienced a five-point decrease, while people who did not take the course had a two-point increase in stress. The study also revealed that the student group felt less depressed and burnt out. The researchers concluded that a regular meditation routine can lead to not only improved physical and mental well-being, but improved job performance as well.

A new study found that people who engage in a 15-minute session of mindful meditation techniques benefited from better decision-making skills.

Can Mindful Meditation Improve Your Decision-Making Skills?

It's well known that meditation benefits the mind, body and spirit. It can help ease stress, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and sharpen your focus, and many people utilize it to obtain clarity and peace of mind for a happier, more stable life. But new research reveals that mindful meditation may also help enhance your capacity to make good decisions.

It's not shocking news that people often have trouble admitting when they've made a bad choice. For instance, when a person buys stock that is doing poorly, he or she may hold onto it rather than selling due to an inability to let go and admit that their original decision was wrong. Often, people stick it out in the hopes that their luck will turn around and they'll break even or make profit. But doing so typically ends up costing us more in the long run. Behavioral scientists call this desire to stick to poor decisions "sunk-cost bias," but it also extends to non-monetary situations, such as staying in bad relationships and even finishing a meal when you're full because it's already paid for.

Scientists at the The Wharton School and INSEAD conducted research looking into the effects of mindful meditation techniques for concentration on people's ability to increase their resistance to this sunk-cost bias and make beneficial decisions.

The study, which was published in the journal Psychological Science, involved four separate clinical investigations that had participants listen to a 15-minute recording in which a professional led them through focused-breathing guided meditation. The control group listened to a tape that simply asked them to think of whatever came to their minds. The studies found that those who engaged in one 15-minute session of meditation were more likely to make rational decisions based on the information available rather than focusing on emotional attachments to their original decisions.

Mindful meditation's ability to help people accept their mistakes and make adjustments for the better falls in line with Ilchi Lee education principles. In The New York Times bestselling author's book, "Change: Realizing Your Greatest Potential," he emphasized the need to accept and stop resisting change. Those who do find a new feeling of empowerment and can begin to alter their own lives and the world around them for the better.

At-home practice is a great complement to your yoga for beginners course.

Yoga Tips for Beginners

If you've never engaged in yoga poses before, it can be intimidating to join a studio and take on this ancient practice. But yoga is a soothing exercise that's gentle on the body and promotes a sense of relaxation and tranquility. And while many may find it daunting to learn new postures among a group of other people, there's a strong sense of community in the yoga world, and practitioners tend to be encouraging and supportive. If you're interested in taking up this practice, consider these tips to make the transition smooth:

Start with Yoga for Beginners
Some people start yoga from the comfort of your own home using instructional videos and books. This can be effective, but joining a studio is a great way to get expert guidance while meeting like-minded people with the same desire for health and wellness. Rather than trying to take part in a class that's advanced in the practice, try an introductory course. Beginners' yoga classes focus on the basics, exposing you to the principles and benefits of the exercise. You'll start out by learning simple postures, such as the mountain, downward dog, bridge, cobra and tree. You'll also explore breathing exercises and mindful meditation and discover how they promote peace and tranquility.

Create a Yoga Space at Home
While being part of a studio and embracing the sense of community is valuable, it can also be beneficial to practice your yoga poses at home on your own. That's because it's not always possible or realistic to attend class every day, but it's still important to keep up your routine and stay on track. Create a space in your home that's ideal for practicing yoga – an area with enough space to flow through the postures as well as quiet and solitude so you can focus. Keep your gear and any instructional videos ready to go so that, when you wake up in the morning or get home from work in the evening, it's easy to simply unfurl your mat and start.

Look to Others for Support
When you're just starting out as a practitioner, it's easy to become discouraged, especially if you aren't seeing immediate results. For that reason, it can be helpful to have partner who can provide you with encouragement. He or she can remind you that change takes time, and the physical, mental and emotional benefits are just around the corner. In return, you can give your friend support and help keep him or her on the track to wellness.

Dahn Yoga is for everybody, whether you are a beginner or yogi with a long experience.  The best way to start Dahn Yoga is to begin with an introductory session, where you can have a one-on-one session with a Dahn Yoga instructor. Or you can take a trial class.

Longevity walking is one of the Dahn Yoga exercises that can help you reduce stress.

Stress-Reduction Exercises for the Holidays and All Year-Round

Each month in its newsletter, Dahn Yoga & Health Centers introduces readers to innovative ways to maintain health and wellness. In the December 2013 issue of Dahn Yoga Life, the organization gave readers some tips on how to relieve stress throughout the holidays based on the holistic principles of founder Ilchi Lee.

The article, "5 Proven Dahn Yoga exercises for a Stress-Free Holiday Season," shares a set of postures aimed at boosting energy and soothing the mind; however, these techniques aren't just for the stressful season – they can be used all year-round. Introduce yourself to these tension-relieving techniques and check out the newsletter for more details:

Walking
Students in Dahn Yoga classes may have heard about a unique method called  "longevity walking." It combines a relaxing yet controlled stroll with mindfulness and breathing exercises to help calm the mind while providing physical exertion. Along with enhancing flexibility, balance and posture, it can help you improve digestive function and lose weight.

Whole Body Relaxation
This method involves lying on your back, focusing your breathing and releasing the tension throughout your body. While it may seem simple, whole body relaxation can be quite difficult to perform, but it's well worth the practice – it can improve concentration, invigorate the spirit and help you find inner-peace. Additionally, this technique may help stave off headaches, insomnia, hypertension and other conditions.

Rolling Back
The rolling back is one of the Dahn Yoga exercises that even beginners can do. It involves sitting with the back rounded and rocking backward. The health benefits are abundant: It strengthens the spine and bone marrow, boosts nervous system function and stimulates your vital organs for optimal functioning.

Toe Tapping
Toe tapping is a regular part of Dahn Yoga classes. To perform this exercise, sit on the ground with the legs straightened in front of you and the heels together. Then, tap the big toes together for one minute by rotating the heels so that the little toes reach the floor each time. It may be low-exertion, but toe tapping can give you better circulation in the legs, relieve you of mental and emotional tension and even help you sleep better at night.

Whole Body Tapping
Once you've mastered toe tapping, move on to whole body tapping. This one requires a standing position and asks you to start by tapping your head with your fingers and then moving downward, patting your shoulders, chest, arms, stomach and so on, making sure to pay special attention to your major organs. After 10 to 20 minutes of this. you may experience increased energy thanks to improved circulation as well as a reduction in stress.

The Westchester Center in Scarsdale, N.Y., was recognized for its thriving member base and dedication to the community.

Dahn Yoga Shines the Spotlight on Westchester Center

Each month in its "Dahn Yoga Life" newsletter, Dahn Yoga reviews and selects from some of the top studios in the country for its "Center of the Month" feature. These establishments help spread the word of Ilchi Lee's teachings and improve the lives of people in their communities. In the January 2014 issue, the leader in health and wellness recognized the Westchester Center with an article titled "This Is Genius!"

Located in Scarsdale, N.Y., the Westchester Center is a large studio with more than 220 members. About 60 people take part regularly in daily Dahn Yoga classes, so it's no surprise that the staff are busy. Manager Jo and instructor Daehan teach five or six classes every day, but they never lose their upbeat attitudes or vigorous spirit – and that's precisely what keeps members coming back.

As practitioner Linda Warren pointed out, the friendly nature of the center is a major draw. Along with classes, the staff organizes special events, such as meditation circles, self-healing nights and family fun days.

"They are so warm and inviting, and they truly care about all of us," Linda said. "They have created a feeling of community here. … After the first week or so, I thought to myself 'this is genius' – all the parts – even the sharing of tea after class."

It's no surprise that Westchester Center has such a thriving and continuously growing base of practitioners. Jo and Daehan aspire to open three more centers in surrounding cities as part of an initiative to spread word of Dahn Yoga benefits and expand its community of health-conscious citizens. And considering the studio's increasing popularity, they may just need the extra space.

Where Dahn Yoga practitioners share their experiences