Do you want serenity now? I highly suggest yoga. Many years ago when I was pregnant with my son, twenty three years ago to be exact, I took my first yoga class. Because we were all past five months pregnant we were very flexible. We did a lot of breath exercises and stayed in pose for over a minute. I had a natural birth. No drugs were involved. I felt relaxed and happy. Yoga gave me strength, flexibility and focus. I dropped out of yoga for a little while and picked it up again when my son was about three years old.
When I started yoga for the second time I didn't have a teacher. One of the things I really love about yoga is how inexpensive it is. Of course you can buy yourself a nice mat but you don't HAVE to. You can enter yoga with as little as some loose fitting clothes and a good attitude. The second time I got into yoga I did it through the mail of all things. The company sent me an exercise a week for a nominal amount, about 2 dollars, maybe it was only one. You can buy books with pictures of yoga. If you've never been in a class and you are worried about doing the pose wrong you can also buy a DVD.
When I started yoga the second time I was so out of shape I couldn't touch my toes. Following the simple exercises I got in the mail within three weeks I could touch my toes. Yoga was fabulous for weight loss as well. I was thinner at that time than I've ever been in my life. So don't let anyone fool you into thinking baby weight doesn't come off. Yoga is good for people with back injuries because it strengthens your core muscles both front and back enabling you to support your spine.
Yoga practice actually has a lot more sides to it than are always taught. In addition to the breath exercises and strength exersizes you may do yoga mantras and meditations if you wish. Healthy mind practices reduce stress in your life. Healthy practices also include eating well and sleeping well. I find the more yoga I do, the more I naturally tend toward the healthy practices. I quit smoking after trying so many times after getting back into yoga. I found that smoking interfered with my breath work.
I started yoga again recently after a mysterious back injury. Without health insurance I was unable to get an MRI or Xray. All I know for sure is I was in some serious pain. The chiropractor made me feel ok for the twenty minutes I was in his office but after I left it was as if he had done nothing at all. The AMA had only pain killers to suggest. I got some relief from the pain from an accupuncturist. As far as preventative medicene I recommend yoga. The strength it gives my back and abdomen gives me hope.
I went once to a yoga/meditation combination which was very soothing. After half and hour of yoga we spent half an hour focused on a candle flame. The main problem was I couldn't keep up with the yoga class. Some Western style yoga classes seem almost aerobic in their speed. I find it easier to strengthen and stretch my muscles if I do yoga in a slower more Eastern Tai Chi type fluidity of motion. Sometimes it's in the third minute that I find I can gain a full additional inch. But it's not a competition. One of the best thing about yoga is that you can start where you are. Unlike running or weight lifting you don't have to feel embarassed about being inept. Beginner classes are easy to find. Any good yoga studio offers them.