Jul 11

Deepak Chopra extols benefits of yoga for health and fitness

Though you may not be able to go on a yoga retreat or spiritual vacation as often as you’d like, it is important that you try to maintain physical fitness while mentally decompressing as often as possible. In that regard, Dahn Yoga exercises may be without peer.

Consider that at least 16 million Americans practice some form of yoga, according to data recently released by the Yoga Journal. The fact that so many people turn to a holistic mind-body practice for exercise and anxiety relief indicates that there may really be something to it.

Alternative therapist and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra argued as much in a column recently published by the Huffington Post.

Chopra noted that yoga helps people on several planes, the most basic of which is the physical level of being. He said that studies have connected the practices of meditation, stretching, deep breathing, tai chi and qigong to benefits ranging from lower blood pressure and improved circulation, to reductions in cholesterol levels.

Likewise, yoga may improve health and wellness on the mental plane as well. Numerous scientific investigations have suggested that regularly engaging in yoga and meditation can reduce stress, depression or anxiety, especially when combined with traditional therapeutic practices.

Such relief is much needed in today’s fast-paced, stressful existence. Anxiety alone affects a large portion of the U.S. population. Nearly 29 percent of American adults will suffer from an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Likewise, 16.5 percent of adults will have a major depressive disorder over the course of their lives, the agency adds.

Such figures indicate that Americans must take effective measures to reduce the stress and anxiety that weigh on their minds. Taking a few moments each day to calmly and deeply breathe and to practice low-impact yoga may help melt the tension away.

Jul 11

Study points people with hypertension toward yoga for health problems

Many people who take yoga for health and fitness have high blood pressure, though it is unclear how many of them engage in the mind-body system as a way to specifically deal with hypertension, as opposed to merely taking yoga for health and healing.

Ironically, people with hypertension who regularly take yoga, deep breathing or meditation classes incidentally may be doing their bodies a favor, since research suggests that yoga may reduce one’s heart rate and improve the symptoms of high blood pressure.

Hypertension is a condition in which the pressure in the body’s cardiovascular system is too high most of the time. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that a systolic/diastolic blood pressure higher than 140/90 is a reasonable indicator that you may have hypertension, though only a doctor may make that call.

Many factors contribute to hypertension, some of which – like aging, race and family history of the disease – are unavoidable. However, the NIH states that people who eat a low-sodium diet, exercise, maintain a normal body mass and avoid tobacco and excess alcohol consumption have a lower risk of having high blood pressure.

This condition can be thought of in the following way. One of the prime vascular causes of high blood pressure is arteriosclerosis, or the gradual hardening of one’s arteries. In youth, the blood vessels are stretchy and resilient, meaning that when your blood pressure goes up, your veins and arteries expand to restore equilibrium.

Hard arteries cannot expand, meaning people with arteriosclerosis or hypertension need alternate ways to lower their blood pressure.

Enter yoga. Studies in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the Journal of Clinical Hypertension have stated that, beyond pharmaceutical treatments, yoga and other alternative mind-body therapies can help individuals with the disease relax and decompress, in both an arterial sense and a larger, transcendental sense.

Jul 11

Stretching exercises for seniors may reduce symptoms of climacteric

A potentially unpleasant but natural part of a woman’s life is the transition into menopause, during which her hormones fluctuate and leave her with feelings of discomfort and even depression. However, research conducted in Bangalore, India, indicates that yoga-based stretching exercises for seniors may relieve some of the symptoms of this condition.

The study, which appeared in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises helped perimenopausal women overcome hot flashes and night sweats.

Menopause occurs when a woman’s body ceases menstruating. It occurs naturally around the age of 50 or so, but can be induced by any process that interferes with ovulation. Women who have had a hysterectomy, pelvic radiation or chemotherapy may experience their climacteric transition relatively early, according to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

What can be done about the hot flashes, night sweats, irritability and even depression that may ensue? In the new study, researchers tried using yoga for health problems associated with menopause, easing 60 perimenopausal women through this difficult time.

The results were encouraging. The team, which was associated with Bangalore’s Maiya Multispeciality Hospital, found that women who practiced yoga for five hours per week experienced greater gains in relaxation and bigger reductions in climacteric-related discomfort.

Likewise, the regimen led to a plethora of mental gains. Yoga “improve[d] cognitive functions such as remote memory, mental balance, attention and concentration, delayed and immediate recall, verbal retention and recognition tests,” researchers concluded.

The results may even be transferable to men. According to the Cleveland Clinic, men go through a similar though less drastic life change informally called “andropause.”

However, menopause is generally thought of as the more severe problem. NAMS estimates that more than 5,600 American women go through menopause every day.

Jul 11

Jennifer Aniston does yoga for healthy skin, doesn’t sweat aging

Besides engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise, Jennifer Aniston reportedly does yoga for healthy skin, muscles and bones, as well as for her mind and spirit. The 42-year-old actress and near-constant subject of tabloid headlines recently told Showbiz Spy that she loves the holistic system, and engages in it quite often.

“I do yoga; yoga is very important. I love it. If I’m not doing it, then my spirit sort of goes,” she told the news source.

She added that doing daily exercises is something that she believes is crucial, even if it is done for less than an hour.

“I try to do some form of exercise, even if it’s just for 20 minute a day, so that I get my body sweating and blood pumping,” Aniston noted, quoted by the website.

Aniston is no stranger to the pursuit of fitness in general. She recently appeared with trainer Mark Blanchard in a yoga DVD called The Sedona Experience, according to Fitness Magazine.

While Blanchard’s style of yoga may not be for everyone – it is a so-called “power” system, one that works the muscles vigorously – there are plenty of other Sedona yoga classes out there.

For instance, Dahn Yoga, a holistic mind-body regimen that has become quite the rage recently, offers a number of classes at its Arizona community centers.

These sessions are open to individuals of all ages, backgrounds and body types. While Dahn Yoga is certainly good for the skin, muscles, joints and for whole-body health, this system is also intended to provide much-needed revitalization of the mind.

At root, yoga is about the reconnection of the brain and the body, a pursuit at which Dahn Yoga practitioners often excel. Performing basic yoga moves several times each week can lead to better physical and mental well-being.

Jul 11

Yoga classes may reduce fear of falling among the elderly

Many individuals who take Dahn Yoga say that the regimen has changed their lives in ways they never previously thought possible. The beauty of yoga is that it often improves surprising aspects of one’s well-being.

For example, a scientific investigation conducted in Indiana found that 12 weeks of yoga classes helped some elderly individuals overcome their fear of falling and improve their sense of balance.

Falls can lead to incapacitation and disability among aging Americans, which is one reason why healthcare experts strive to prevent accidental spills among the elderly.

In the U.S., one-third of all individuals over age 65 will experience a fall each year, the National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates. Many of these accidents result in broken bones, some of which can dramatically reduce life expectancy.

The new study, which appeared in the journal Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, found that regular yoga sessions helped retirees reduce their fear of such falls by 6 percent.

Furthermore, participants improved their balance by an average of 4 percent over the course of the study.

No matter what your age or state of health, Dahn Yoga may be able to help you rehabilitate your body’s mental and physical wellness.

Jul 11

Yoga may soothe away the symptoms of depression

According to numerous yoga enthusiasts, the self healing aspects of yoga do not merely extend to the body, but also to the mind. In line with this sentiment, recent research has suggested that the holistic mind-body practice may help reduce the severity of depression.

A meta-study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders determined that yoga appears to alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, especially for those who do not have range-of-motion issues.

Scientists from London’s Research Council for Complementary Medicine came to this conclusion after poring over thousands of previous studies in search of those specifically concerning yoga’s effects on chronic low mood.

Ultimately, the team found five papers that addressed this issue. They noted that while further research is needed, many of the studies in question suggested that doing yoga, meditation, stretching and deep breathing appears to relieve tension and emotional fatigue.

The group cautioned that having mobility issues may attenuate these effects, since the inability to effectively do yoga might prevent the holistic system from doing its job.

That said, individuals of any level of physical health can rest easy knowing that they may still be able to participate in Dahn Yoga.

Jul 11

Utah yoga instructor talks about pursuing equilibrium

Why do so many people practice yoga, deep breathing and mindfulness meditation? Just ask Utah instructor and studio co-owner Scott Moore, who recently opened up to the Salt Lake Tribune about the benefits of yoga.

He told the newspaper that, besides being a great way to stay in shape, the mind-body regimen takes as its primary goal the unification of the physical and mental health. Put simply, yoga helps those who use it achieve a metaphysical balance.

“Yoga is the invitation to start wherever you are and begin the process of looking inside and [exploring] a comfortable relationship with your frontiers: physical, mental, emotional. Yoga is fun,” Moore told the news source.

The Dahn Yoga fundamentals, as delineated on the program’s official website, read similarly. In this peaceful system, individuals search for positivity and serenity by letting go of intellectualization and taking up a more holistic approach to personal health.

By properly directing one’s Ki, or life energy, thinking optimistically and taking care of one’s body, yoga practitioners of all ages can relax and unwind while making great inward strides toward spiritual union.

Jun 11

Author says poet-philosopher Emerson laid groundwork for yoga in U.S.

Think about yoga as it stands today in the U.S. – full of diversity, vibrance, self healing and self-discovery – and the essayist, lecturer and Transcendental poet Ralph Waldo Emerson might not immediately spring to mind.

He was, after all, not a yoga practitioner, not a meditator in the strict sense and not particularly easy to understand, even by his contemporaries. However, the author of a new history of yoga in the U.S., titled The Subtle Body, says that Emerson laid the foundation of North America’s current love of yoga.

Writer Stefanie Syman states that the poem “Brahma,” published in 1857 in the first-ever issue of the magazine The Atlantic Monthly, opened the gates for yoga.

It includes contemplative lines, like “Far or forgot to me is near/ Shadow and sunlight are the same,” which convey the mental exploration that comes with the gentle practice of yoga and meditation.

Of course, many other men and women are responsible for bringing the practice itself to the West, but Syman maintains that Emerson helped Americans learn to turn inward and reflect on themselves.

As Harvard Magazine notes, Emerson believed in “the infinitude of the private man.”

Jun 11

Yoga offers long-term stress relief, scientists say

After taking even one yoga class, someone who is new to the discipline may notice subtle improvements in their physical well-being and mental clarity. Imagine, then, such daily progress accumulating month after month, year after year and even decade after decade.

Scientists at the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine in Japan’s Kyushu University did just that – visualized the potential long-term benefits offered by yoga – and then put the regimen to the test.

Their results appeared in the journal BioPsychoSocial Medicine, and they were positive, to say the least.

The team surveyed nearly 50 women, half of whom had been practicing yoga for at least two years. Those who had been regularly engaging in the mind-body pursuit had lower self-reported levels tension, anger, anxiety, hostility and fatigue.

Unsatisfied with merely taking the participants’ word for it, researchers also tested the ladies’ bodily levels of 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine, a compound whose presence indicates higher stress and more DNA oxidation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who had practiced yoga long term had lower levels of the substance, suggesting that holistic, meditative exercise regimens offer cumulative benefits when it comes to stress relief.

Jun 11

Therapists consider using yoga to treat individuals with eating disorders

Coping with an eating disorder can be a serious problem, since many psychologists agree that, for individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge eating, their condition may be deeply ingrained. Given that it is often difficult to treat people for these conditions using traditional methods, researchers are increasingly looking into alternative therapies, like yoga, for supplementary care.

Recently, psychologist Laura Douglassa explored the self healing potential of a combination of yoga and counseling for individuals with eating disorders. Her report appeared in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention.

The idea occurred to her because, like some of the more successful cognitive-behavioral techniques, yoga can help individuals increase their self-awareness, mindfulness and spiritual independence, without necessarily contributing to self-consciousness or withdrawn behavior.

On the contrary, many people who regularly take programs like Dahn Yoga report that holistic mind-body systems do wonders for their affability, relaxation and closeness to those around them.

An estimated 8 million Americans have eating disorders, 7 million of whom are women, according to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.

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