According to the Mayo Clinic and recent research in neurosciences and mind-body therapies, “the mind can change the brain.” The practice of mind-body therapy, Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, Pilates and even Music Relaxation and Therapy can soothe the mind and engage the brain areas that enhance resilience and happiness. By doing the activity you can reprogram the attitude!
The practice of yoga can redirect your focus and strength from your everyday stress and worries to your mind, balance and overall attitude. The ultimate goal of yoga is to coordinate the breath, mind and body putting everything into its place; providing a sense of cohesiveness throughout the temple of your own being. This hopefully follows you through your journeys thereafter.
The risks of yoga are low and it can be practiced by most everyone. People with lower back, neck and joint problems may want to avoid certain poses. You should also consult with a physician if you have a history of high blood pressure or blood clots. Yoga is generally considered safe for pregnant women, but poses that put pressure on the mid section and uterus should be avoided.
The benefits of practicing yoga on a regular basis include improved flexibility, balance, strength, peace of mind, coordination and a release of pressure we put on our bodies during the “daily grind.” Hours of slouching over the computer or standing and pounding the pavement can put pressure on the spine, hips, neck and core of your universe. Yoga can reduce and counter some of these external sources of internal stress.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, yoga can help reduce stress, slow breathing, lower blood pressure, alter brain waves and assist your heart to work more efficiently (Mayo Clinic 2010). Yoga has been found to increase some measures of cognitive function and offer a source of control over some symptoms of depression. Some studies even suggest that yoga can help improve binge eating habits. As of right now, there are currently 43 open studies being conducted looking into the effects of yoga on various medical conditions. Check them out at the National Institutes of Health website on current clinical trials.
Yoga has also been found to reduce the amount of medication needed to control mild to moderate asthma. I have had chronic asthma issues most of my life and have been hospitalized at least 15 times due to asthma. A personal experience for me, a few months back I had to get all of my asthma prescriptions refilled which cost me a couple hundred dollars. Since I have been practicing yoga the past month, I recently realized I have not used my inhaler. I don’t expect yoga to eliminate my breathing issues or miraculously fix my lungs, but it does seem to reduce the need to rely on medication to get through the day.
Yoga has been gaining acceptance and increasing popularity in United States the past hundred years or so, though it has been around for thousands of years. It can be done solo, in a group, at your local health club or community center and even on dvd in the peace and quiet of your own home. Compared to most workout programs and gym memberships it is relatively in expensive to start out. Though I personally feel yoga should be part of an overall health program that also involves cardio, resistance training and proper nutrition. With all the benefits, there is really no reason to not give it a try.
“Approaches that at their core are based on the values of peace, forgiveness, compassion, selflessness, integrity and love will be the ones that will stand the test of time and continue to bring health and healing to this generation and the next.” – Amit Sood, M.D., General Internal Medicine, The Mayo Clinic