Not only fitness, but also inner peace and balance: this is what many people want from their sports program. Small breaks from everyday life offer relaxation sports. They focus not only on the body but also on the mind. Depending on the type of training, health requirements and individual preferences, there is the right relaxation sport for everyone. An overview.
The mother of all relaxation sports is actually much more than that: a philosophical and religious teaching from India, which contains mental and physical exercises. In western society, physical training was the most common, modified variations such as power yoga concentrate on fitness and endurance.
“There are many forms of yoga today,” explains Ulrika Eiworth, trainer for Yoga, Pilates and Nia from Mosbach. “Some are more dynamic, some more meditative. This allows everyone to find the focus that suits them best. Those who have just undergone surgery, for example after a slipped disc, should avoid yoga.
The German Joseph Hubert Pilates originally developed this principle for soldiers during the First World War. Pilates is a gentle, holistic body training and concentrates beside the fitness aspect also on breathing, posture and coordination. Pilates focuses on the centre of the body: trunk, stomach, back and pelvic floor. “In contrast to yoga, where many exercises are kept static, here you work fluently, supported by aids such as balls, rings or ribbons,” explains yoga and Pilates trainer Eiworth.
“Qigong is a harmonious flow of movements,” says Qigong and Taiji teacher Karin Sedlmeier from Wolnzach in Upper Bavaria. “One stops shortly before the strongest tension and then goes into the counter movement. All this very slowly, but steadily. “Qigong promotes the immune system, improves strength and condition”, explains sports scientist Yu Zhejun from the University of Mainz.
Through the meditative parts and breathing Qigong has a calming effect. There are hardly any health restrictions. On the contrary: “Qigong keeps the spine moving and is especially suitable for people with back problems,” says Sedlmeier. Through loosening exercises for shoulders and neck, office stallions find relaxation here. Since Qigong is easy to modify, Sedlmeier trains a lot with stroke patients. “This is so slow, so cautious and attentive that anyone can practice it.”
Taijiquan or Tai Chi
Taijiquan – Tai Chi for short – is a Chinese martial art. “The flow of movement is similar to Qigong,” says Sedlmeier. While in Qigong one repeats the same exercises standing up, in Tai Chi the students learn whole choreographies. This trains legs and back very effectively, but is more challenging to learn. “Tai Chi requires a lot of coordination and concentration,” she says. But it also teaches both.
Course participants should be prepared to continue training at home. Those who have knee problems should be careful with Tai Chi, says Yu. “During the exercises, the body’s centre of gravity often sinks so that the knees are heavily stressed. Everyone must find their own comfortable body position in order to avoid injuries.
Nia stands for “Non-Impact Aerobics”, so it is a joint-gentle aerobic training, which was founded in the eighties in San Francisco. Nia combines what people like about relaxation sports: dance, martial arts, yoga, music.
Similar to yoga and Pilates, stress relieve and body awareness are the focus, says Nia trainer Ulrika Eiworth. But Nia is much more dynamic than yoga. She trains to music, barefoot and without aids. “It is a mixture of choreography and free movement.
The American physician Edmund Jacobs founded Progressive Muscle Relaxation, PME for short, more than a hundred years ago. Tensing and relaxing – with this technique muscle tensions can be loosened. “It often precedes autogenic training,” says Sedlmeier, who also offers PME in her practice.
While autogenic training works with autosuggestion, PME consciously tenses and loosens muscles to relax body and mind. “Tense the body in order to come into relaxation: This follows the same system as Qigong,” explains Sedlmeier. But PME takes place lying down, whereas Qigong is mostly standing up. That’s why PME is suitable for people who find their perfect relaxation in the perfect relaxation position: lying down.