HEALTH: The Benefits of Yoga

Community Health Mar 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Ask Your Holistic Nutritionist

By Kalayaan Garcia de Vera

By Kalayaan Garcia de Vera

Holistic nutrition addresses the whole person, the mind, body and soul are all connected, and if there is an imbalance in one system then it affects all others, which is why it is important to always look for the root of the problem and fix that rather than treating one or more symptoms.

Too often do we treat just the symptom and not the problem. For example, if a headache occurs, we simply take some Tylenol to get rid of the symptom which is the headache but whatever caused the headache wasn’t addressed or corrected and that headache will most likely re-occur. That is your body trying to tell you something: the headache is a symptom not the actual problem and by just getting rid of it we are ignoring that there is a problem.

The cause of a headache can be a myriad of reasons, anywhere from stress, fatigue, anxiety, high blood pressure, dehydration, allergy or food sensitivities, toxic accumulation and the list can go on. Unless the root of the problem is addressed and fixed by treating the body holistically then the problem and its symptoms will persist.

Yoga is a holistic systematic technology to improve the body, understand the mind, and free the spirit. By practicing yoga, you are strengthening and calming the nervous system, increasing the blood flow to internal organs and bringing more oxygen to your cells.

By clearing up the clutter that builds up in the mind, you will see more clearly. Being in the present moment will make you more aware of your body and help you to listen to what it is trying to tell you. And by freeing your spirit, you will be happier and more at peace. It helps the sick feel better. The depressed, anxious, experiencing fatigue, those who are suffering from lower back pain, yoga can set you on a path to recovery.

For those with chronic health problems like arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, regular yoga practice can help improve the quality of life. And for those people suffering tension headaches, hot flashes, or sinus pressure, there are specific yoga poses, breathing techniques and other practices which can bring relief.

I think that it is safe to say that we all suffer from stress at some level. It can be personal, job-related or even just from the environmental stress we are all exposed to, and it is affecting our health in one way or another. With stress being a major factor in a host of medical conditions from high blood pressure, heart attacks, insomnia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome to infertility and a number of other unidentified chronic conditions, yoga’s role in stress reduction is a health prescription that everyone can benefit from.

One Yoga class or even a single breathing exercise can leave you feeling calmer and more centered.
(1) Yoga’s health benefits can in part be attributed to the various stretching, breathing, movement, balance, meditative and strength practices. With sustained practice particularly of stretching and strengthening exercises known as asana and other breathing techniques known as pranayama, the body and breath become stronger. Posture and lung capacity improve, as does bowel function, lymphatic drainage, and the functioning of the immune system. In fact the practice of yoga is about balance. The practice challenges you wherever you may need it, if it is flexibility, focus, strength, it transforms liabilities into strengths making you a more balanced person, inside and out.



40 Ways Yoga Heals

1. Increases Flexibility

2. Strengthens Muscles

3. Improves Balance

4. Improves Immune function

5. Improves Posture

6. Improves Lung Function

7. Leads to Slower and Deeper Breathing

8. Discourages Mouth Breathing

9. Increases Oxygenation of tissues

10. Improves Joint Health

11. Nourishes Intervertebral Disks

12. Improves Return of Venous Blood

13. Increases Circulation of Lymph

14. Improves Function of the feet

15. Improves Proprioception

16. Increases control of Bodily Functions

17. Strengthens bones

18. Conditions the cardiovascular system

19. Promotes weight Loss

20. Relaxes the Nervous system

21. Improves Function of the Nervous system

22. Improves Brain Function

23. Activates the Left Prefrontal Cortex

24. Changes Neurotransmitter Levels

25. Lowers levels of stress hormone Cortisol

26. Lowers Blood sugar

27. Lowers Blood Pressure

28. Improves Levels of Cholesterol and Triglycerides

29. Thins the Blood

30. Improves Bowel Function

31. Releases Unconscious Muscular Gripping

32. Uses Imagery to Effect Change in the Body

33. Relieves Pain

34. Lowers need for medication

35. Fosters Healing Relationships

36. Improves Psychological Health

37. Leads to Healthier Habits

38. Fosters Spiritual Growth

39. Elicits the Placebo effect

40. Encourages Involvement in your own healing

These are just some of the benefits of practicing yoga. I encourage everyone to take a leap of faith and to try it. It is a powerful practice no matter what your current state of health is. It can benefit the healthy as well as the sick. The more you put in your yoga practice the greater the rewards, try a few sessions of yoga and let your experience dictate whether to continue as it is something you learn by doing. ‘Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory,” says Pattabhi Jois.

References
1. Yoga as Medicine, The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing, A Yoga Journal Book by Timothy McCall, M.D., 2007

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(Kalayaan Garcia de Vera is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and studied at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Visit her website at www.yourholisticnutritionist.com. Her email: your holisticnutritionist@gmail.com)