How Yoga Heals

This is a re-post for those of you who are interested in exploring yoga for your health and wellbeing.

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yoga for wellbeing

Thanks to Nancy over at Spirit Lights the Way for sparking some yoga inspiration!

I take a therapeutic approach to my Yoga teaching; focusing on body awareness, mindfulness and the breath. To me its more than a physical work out.

I love this quote from Georg Feuerstein taken from Yoga Gems:
“Beginners on the yogic path would do well to understand correctly what Yoga is all about and to then approach it accordingly.
There is a humorous saying in Yoga circles that Yoga has been reduced to the practice of postures, and that postures have been reduced to stretching, and that stretching has been reduced to lengthening the hamstrings. Authentic Yoga is always a spiritual discipline, even when the focus is on the body, as it is in Hatha Yoga.”

The intention of Yoga is the quieten the mind and connect with our inner spirit, consciousness or higher power. Read more about it on my Yoga page.

In his book “Yoga as Medicine” Dr Timothy McCall shares 40 ways that Yoga (Poses, Breathing and Meditation) heals:

  1. Increases flexibility
  2. Strengthen 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 the tissues
  10. Improves joint health
  11. Nourishes intervertebral discs
  12. Improves return of venous blood
  13. Increases circulation of lymph
  14. Improves circulation of the feet
  15. Improves proprioception (awareness of body in space)
  16. Increases control of bodily functions
  17. Strengthens bones
  18. Conditions the cardiovascular system
  19. Promotes weight loss
  20. Relaxes the nervous system and reduces anxiety
  21. Improves the function of the nervous system
  22. Improves brain function
  23. Activates the left prefrontal cortex
  24. Changes neurotransmitter levels
  25. Lowers levels of the 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 muscle gripping
  32. Uses imagery to effect change in the body
  33. Relieves pain
  34. Lowers need for medication
  35. Fosters healthier relationships
  36. Improves psychological health and mood
  37. Leads to healthier habits
  38. Fosters spiritual growth
  39. Elicits the placebo effect
  40. Encourages involvement in your own healing

This list still wows me!

If you are young – there is every reason in the world to start now. Do it!

If you are in Mid life – it isn’t too late. I started yoga in my 40’s and it changed my life. This is where I find my middle ground every day.
Find a studio and a teacher that you can relate to and feel supported by. A word of caution here. Not every Yoga offered in classes is the same. Unless you are an athlete, avoid Vinyasa or Power Yoga.

Even if you are elderly and have a number of health and physical issues, finding an experienced trained teacher with a therapeutic approach can lead to a more active and healthy life… and a sense of peace and wellbeing.

yoga heals

So many people try Yoga in gyms these days. Please be careful as the focus is usually on having a physical workout. In my experience the instructors may not be as experienced, there is less personal attention and less time for relaxation and mindfulness.

For me, Yoga is about balance, alignment and inner peace. Finding balance and peace in our lives and alignment of our mind body and spirit… on and off the mat.

Namaste

* Insights from my Kripalu YTT 500 Teacher Training – Mod 4

When I was at Kripalu last week I met amazing teachers from the world of physical therapy, structural therapy and nursing, as well as wonderful yogis who teach and inspire a diverse range of people.

You don’t have to be fit, flexible and under 40 to do yoga or enjoy all its benefits! But it is important to find a teacher with experience and skill to avoid injury or making your condition worse… That is why I attended this module.

I have acquired more knowledge and skills for safely teaching people of all sizes; those recovering from illness; moms-to-be; kids; seniors and people with disabilities; people impacted by trauma, depression or anxiety and a large population of shoulder and back pain sufferers. For the yogis out there I also learned about how to support people in rebalancing their doshas and bringing mind body and spirit into harmony.

Val's yoga class

This module was called Teaching Special Population Groups, but it seems to me that most people I come across fall into the one or more of the above categories.  The norm is in fact special. I like that 🙂

The main theme was to support whoever comes into a yoga class with compassion and skill.

The supporting theme that became evident early on is that sitting is bad for your health and well being. We are a chair culture and it isn’t doing our bodies any good.

Lee Albert said that sitting is the new smoking! Its bad for everyone’s health. If you want to find out more about his perspective as an Integrated Positional Therapist, then there are lots of tips on his website.

Our bodies were built for walking, squatting and lying down. Sitting on a chair or in the drivers seat for extended periods of time creates misalignments that lead to chronic back pain and shoulder issues, as well as other health problems.  Specific yoga poses can counteract this … and lead to better alignment and healthy backs and shoulders.

Yoga has its roots in spirituality and the journey to oneness, but it has evolved into an amazing tool box full of tools that can support every body in bringing peace of mind and physical well being.

I feel grounded in this knowing, yet am excited to share these new perspectives with my yoga peeps.