A 3,000 year old tradition, yoga, is now regarded in the Western world as a holistic approach to health and is classified by the National Institutes of Health as a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit root ‘yog’ which means union, to join, and to direct and concentrate one’s attention. Regular practice of yoga promotes strength, endurance, flexibility and facilitates characteristics of friendliness, compassion, and greater self-control, while cultivating a sense of calmness and well-being. Sustained practice also leads to important outcomes such as changes in life perspective, self-awareness and an improved sense of energy to live life fully and with genuine enjoyment.
The practice of yoga produces a physiological state opposite to that of the flight-or-fight stress response and with that interruption in the stress response, a sense of balance and union between the mind and body can be achieved. Here are about the different types of yoga and how it can be used as a tool to help you stay healthy. Like yoga, the osteopathic approach to wellness focuses on your body’s natural tendency toward health and self-healing. “The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body,” explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California. While there are more than 100 different types, or schools, of yoga, most sessions typically include breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming postures (sometimes called asana or poses) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.
Many osteopathic physician, focus a lot of efforts on preventive medicine and practices, and in the body’s ability to heal itself. “Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy because it’s based on similar principles.” Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, focus on prevention by examining how lifestyle and environment impact your health, rather than just treating symptoms. Beginners welcome. Because there are so many different kinds of yoga practices, it is possible for anyone to start. Whether people is a couch potato or a professional athlete, size and fitness levels do not matter because there are modifications for every yoga pose and beginner classes in every style. The idea is to explore your limits, not strive for some pretzel-like perfection. It is a great way to get in tune with body and inner self.
The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia. Other physical benefits of yoga include:
• increased flexibility
• increased muscle strength and tone
• improved respiration, energy and vitality
• maintaining a balanced metabolism
• weight reduction
• cardio and circulatory health
• improved athletic performance
• protection from injury
Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate. “Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”Yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing can help improve a person’s mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration. Body and self-awareness are particularly beneficial, because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action.”
In The End
While no concrete guidelines exist regarding the frequency of practice, the more people practice the more people benefit. Yoga is a personalized practice and as such, frequency and duration are personal questions with individual answers. Practice should happen with wisdom and should be modified to meet individual needs and goals. Individuals should practice as often as possible, especially in the beginning. The length of the induction phase will vary depending on an individual’s initial level of fitness and health status; the more difficult yoga is for someone in the beginning the more their body needs it. While modern medicine has the ability in many cases to heal physical diseases and alleviate psychological disorders, it is argued that a purely medical approach is far less effective in healing the emotional, intellectual, and personality layers of the human entity. The discipline of yoga offers individuals a timeless and holistic model of health and healing and although it may not result in the complete elimination of physical diseases and/ or adverse conditions from the body it offers a holistic path of healing. There exists an indisputable connection between a person’s overall physical and mental health and the inner peace and well-being yoga is designed to achieve. Yoga suspends the fluctuations of the mind and by acting consciously, people live better and suffer less.