Health Benefits of Yoga

07Oct09

I came upon this article (below) on the website for National Yoga Month and had to share it in full! If you’re interested in Yoga’s benefits for the listed or other ailments/injuries, get in touch!  We’ll talk about how Yoga can help you, and/or we’ll develop a routine that’s ideal for your body and situation.  (The great thing about MergeYoga? You don’t even have to be local!)

Health Benefits of Yoga – Overview

Using Yoga to Relieve Stress

To combat stress, many people turn to meditation or other mental stress reduction tools. But stress also creates physical response in the body and, as such, can be managed with exercise — in particular, with yoga.

“Stress sends the entire physical system into overdrive,” says Garrett Sarley, president and CEO of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Mass. “The muscles tense, the heart beats faster, breathing patterns change, and if the cause of stress isn’t discontinued, the body secretes more hormones that increase blood sugar levels, raising blood pressure. Yoga is one of the few stress-relief tools that has a positive effect on all the body systems involved.”

Recognizing the detrimental effects of stress, especially in the area of heart disease, the preventive and rehabilitative cardiac center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles began offering yoga to their patients more than 10 years ago.

“Over the years, yoga has become one of our primary therapies for stress management,” says C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., director of the preventive and rehabilitative cardiac center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Some research suggests yoga can reduce depression symptoms.

DepressionLow brain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA are often found in people with depression; SSRIs, electroconvulsive therapy, and now yoga, it seems, can boost GABA. Preliminary research out of the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard’s McLean Hospital found that healthy subjects who practiced yoga for one hour had a 27 percent increase in levels of GABA compared with a control group that simply sat and read for an hour. This supports a growing body of research that’s proving yoga can significantly improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Yoga could help lower some heart disease risk factors.
Heart DiseaseSeveral trials have found that yoga can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and resting heart rates, and help slow the progression of atherosclerosis—all risk factors for heart disease, says Erin Olivo, PhD, director of Columbia University’s Integrative Medicine Program.

While almost any exercise is good for the heart, experts speculate yoga’s meditative component may give it an extra boost by helping to stabilize the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels that, when irritated, contributes to cardiovascular disease. Since the lining is reactive to stress, and meditation can lower stress hormones, yoga may be causing a cascade of events that could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Women who do yoga during treatment experience less stress.
Breast CancerResearch is becoming clear on this: Women who do yoga during and after treatment experience less physical discomfort and stress. Earlier this year Duke University scientists reported results of a pilot study in which women with metastatic breast cancer attended eight weekly yoga sessions. The doctors found that the women had much less pain and felt more energetic and relaxed.

Studies find that yoga can help menopausal women.
MenopauseA preliminary study at the University of California, San Francisco, found that menopausal women who took two months of a weekly restorative yoga class, which uses props to support the postures, reported a 30 percent decrease in hot flashes. A four-month study at the University of Illinois found that many women who took a 90-minute Iyengar class twice a week boosted both their energy and mood; plus they reported less physical and sexual discomfort, and reduced stress and anxiety.
Studies find that yoga can help menopausal women.

Chronic Back Pain

When doctors at the HMO Group Health Cooperative in Seattle pitted 12 weekly sessions of yoga against therapeutic exercises and a handbook on self-care, they discovered the yoga group not only showed greater improvement but experienced benefits lasting 14 weeks longer. A note of caution: “While many poses are helpful, seated postures or extreme movement in one direction can make back pain worse,” says Gary Kraftsow, author of Yoga for Wellness, who designed the program for the study.

Advertisements


2 Responses to “Health Benefits of Yoga”

  1. Yoga is an excellent exercise for all the reasons listed above! If some of you are still unfamiliar with yoga and don’t understand what it’s all about, I would urge you to step out of your comfort zone and reap the benefits of this activity. As a Registered Dietitian, I recommend that people make lifestyle changes in 4 main areas: nutrition, exercise, stress management and sleep. For more information, see my book, “How To Eat Fried Chicken and Be Thin Too” on Amazon or at strategicbookpublishing.com

  2. 2 becky

    tasha, i’ve been thinking about your yoga class of last year, and how helpful it was, and i was wondering if next time you’re in town we could sit down and figure some of this out. i’d love to come up a routine or two that i can do on my own, when you’re not around to tell me what to do. :-) can we make that happen maybe?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: