A mind-body exercise is typically an activity in which a person moves physically while using concentration to ensure mental focus and awareness. Numerous activities can be referred to in this way, including a range of different formal types of exercise and practices that someone can use to better control his or her body. A mind-body exercise can primarily focus on the body, usually as a form of physical activity, in which concentration is used to maintain control. There are also a number of actions, such as meditation, that focus more primarily on the mind while using thought and concentration to bring the practitioner's body into harmony.
The major purpose of a mind-body exercise is to use discipline and self-awareness to control one's physical and mental activities. Concentration is often an important part of this process, since it ensures that a person's thoughts are in the moment and are in tune with his or her body. A great deal of effort can be required during mind-body exercise, to ensure that the thoughts of a practitioner do not wander or move away from the process. This can make such activities more difficult than other procedures, in which people can often focus on something else while exercising.
Some of the most common forms of mind-body exercise are those in which the initial focus is on the body, and the mental applications support them. Physical forms of exercise are typically a part of this, in which a person stretches and moves in various ways to build muscle and eliminate body fat. These types of mind-body exercise often focus on breathing and self-control, in which movements are meant to be precise and deliberate. The mind of a practitioner is often focused on ensuring that each action is accurate and directed properly to demonstrate discipline in thought and movement.
There are also forms of mind-body exercise that focus more strongly on the mental component of such activities. Meditation, for example, can be such an process even though a person may not physically move very much during this practice. Maintenance of proper breathing and posture are important during meditation, and physical control and discipline are often developed through this process.
Relaxation breathing and muscle relaxation techniques can also be used as a mind-body exercise in which a practitioner focuses his or her thoughts on patterns of breathing and muscle tension. In these practices, someone can discipline his or her own mind to control the way in which he or she reacts to various stimuli. This is often used for people undergoing invasive medical procedures, allowing them to control their bodies to aid the healing process.