Sunday, December 27, 2009

Benefits of Yoga 4

I am continuing to share the wonderful benefits of yoga. The benefits come from Yoga Journal's Yoga for Beginners.

Blood Pressure - If you've got high blood pressure, you might benefit from yoga. Two studies of people with hypertension, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, compared the effects of Savasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on a couch. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) -and the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop.

The Heart- When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you can lower your risk heart attack and relieve depression. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. But even yoga exercises that don't get your heart rate up that high can improve cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increase endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise --all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning.

Worry- Yoga lowers cortisol levels. If that doesn't sound like much, consider these facts. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. If your cortisol levels stay high even after the crisis, they can compromise the immune system. Temporary boosts of cortisol help with long-term memory, but chronically high levels undermine memory and may lead to permanent changes in the brain. Plus, excessive cortisol has been linked with major depression, osteoporosis (it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with the laying down of new bone), high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. In rats, high cortisol levels leads to what researchers call "food-seeking behavior" (the kind that drives you to eat when you're upset, angry or stressed). The body takes those calories and distributes them as fat in the abdomen, contributing to weight gain and the risk of diabetes and heart attack.

Join me for yoga in the New Year and experience all the awesome benefits of yoga.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Benefits of Yoga 3

There are even more wonderful benefits to yoga practice. Check out these additional benefits from Yoga Journal's Yoga for Beginners article "Count on Yoga".

Standing -Your head is like a bowling ball- big, round, and heavy. When it's balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for 8 to 12 hours a day and it's no wonder you're tired. And fatigue might not be your only problem. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.

Flow -Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is release. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can me pumped to the lungs to be fleshly oxygenated. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.

Lymphatic- When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Benefits of Yoga 2

Here are even more reasons to get into a yoga class. More from the Yoga Journal’s Yoga for Beginners article “Count on Yoga”.

Joints- Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected cartilage can eventually wear out like worn-out brake pads, exposing the underlying bone.

Spine- Spinal disks- the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves- crave movement. That’s the only way they get their nutrients. If you’ve got a well-balanced asana practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends, and twists, you’ll help keep your disks supple.

Bones- It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, Like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, helps strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. In an unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of stress hormone cortisol may help keep calcium in the bones.

Why not increase your joint, spinal and bone health? Dive into a local yoga class and experience it for yourself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Benefits of Yoga

I am all about sharing. I found this wonderful article in Yoga Journal about the vast benefits of yoga so I have to share it with you all.

From Yoga Journal's Yoga for Beginners

Flexibility- Improved flexibility is one of the most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you will probably won't be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if your stick with it, you'll notice gradually loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You'll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear. That's no coincidence. Tight hips stain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.

Strength- Strong Muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from such conditions as arthritis and back pain, and help prevent falls. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.

I have students who come to me all the time that have muscles mass and no range of motion with their muscles. Many can not even touch their toes. But when they have a few sessions and see themselves getting more flexible they are always so grateful and excited. The light bulb goes on and they start to understand why it is important to have flexible muscles and well as strong ones.