Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Wonderful World of Yoga



Our world has quickly become one of less overall movement and more of just doing nothing when it comes to physical activity.  Just think of the typical day for most people.  We sit at home, we sit at work, and we even sit when we go out to enjoy ourselves (eating out, watching movie, etc.)  In fact, the CDC reports that only about a third of us engage in regular leisure-time physical activity.  That's a lot of us who are doing a lot of nothing.


I'm sure I don't have to tell you that exercise and regular physical activity is good for you.  But did you know that a recent meta-analysis study showed that regular moderate physical activity reduced overall death rates by nearly 20% in men and 24% in women compared to those who were only mildly physically active¹.  For anyone who enjoys living that's certainly motivation to get busy.  And moderate physical activity isn't the chore that you might think it is.  You can achieve this by doing simple things like walking, biking, or practicing yoga on a regular basis which brings us to our topic of discussion today.


Yoga is a combination of physical exercises and poses, breathing practices, and meditation techniques that have many positive health benefits associated with it.  Let's go over a handful of health benefits you can obtain from practicing yoga:


1.  Stress Reduction - Yoga has long been touted as an excellent stress reliever and who doesn't need less stress?  A study of employees at a British university showed marked improvements in feelings of clear-mindedness, composure, elation, and energy along with increased life purpose and satisfaction, and feelings of greater self-confidence during stressful situations by participating in just one 60 minute yoga class per week².

2.  Increased Flexibility - Yoga has been shown to increase lower body flexibility in older adults by as much as 34%³ but anyone who practices yoga is bound to see their flexibility increase regardless of age.

3.  Increased Muscle Tone & Strength - The variety of poses and stretches will work muscles that you didn't even know you had and you'll see a lot more definition as a result as well as increased strength.

4.  Better Posture - Yoga works a lot of your core muscles that are located in your abdomen and lower back which lead to better overall posture.

5.  Breathing - Your breath is the connection between your body and your mind and helps you relax as you learn how to synchronize both breath and movement together.  Individuals who practice yoga on a regular basis were shown to have better lung capacity and pulmonary function than both athletes and individuals leading a sedentary lifestyle⁴.

6.  Weight Loss - A study of 15,550 individuals found that yoga practice for 4 or more years was significantly associated with weight loss in overweight individuals⁵.

7.  Other Health Benefits - Yoga has been proven to improve type 2 diabetes⁶, hypertension⁷, arthritis⁸, and can even lower cholesterol⁹.


As you can see there are a number of reasons why you should start practicing yoga if you haven't already.  Yoga has made its way from its origin in India to the western world and is now becoming part of our everyday fitness language.  And it's not just for women anymore either.  Plenty of guys are now giving their yoga mats a run for their money.  Even professional athletes such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, and Shaquille O'Neal  have practiced yoga to increase their performance come game time.

If you're looking for some excellent resources where you get some more in depth information on yoga then check out these sites below:




So what are you waiting for?  Grab a friend, sign up for a yoga class, and get started today towards a healthier you!

Now I'd like to hear from you.  Have you thought about doing yoga?  Do you regularly practice yoga as part of your workout routine?  What benefits have you seen from doing yoga?  What different types of yoga have you done?  Do you have any advice for those who are new to yoga?

Have a wonderful day everyone!







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by Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacist

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References:
1 Löllgen HBöckenhoff AKnapp GPhysical activity and all-cause mortality: an updated meta-analysis with different intensity categories. Int J Sports Med. 2009 Mar;30(3):213-24.
Hartfiel NHavenhand JKhalsa SBClarke GKrayer AThe effectiveness of yoga for the improvement of well-being and resilience to stress in the workplace. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2010 Apr 6.
Schmid AAVan Puymbroeck MKoceja DMEffect of a 12-week yoga intervention on fear of falling and balance in older adults: a pilot study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Apr;91(4):576-83.
Prakash SMeshram SRamtekkar UAthletes, yogis and individuals with sedentary lifestyles; do their lung functions differ? Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Jan-Mar;51(1):76-80.
Kristal AR, Littman AJ, Benitez D, White E. Yoga practice is associated with attenuated weight gain in healthy, middle-aged men and women. Altern Ther Health Med. 2005;11:28–33.
6 Agte VV, Tarwadi K. Sudarshan Kriya yoga for treating type 2 diabetes: a preliminary study. Altern Complem Ther. 2004;10:220–2.
Bijlani RL, Vempati RP, Yadav RK, Ray RB, Gupta V, Sharma R, et al. A brief but comprehensive lifestyle education program based on yoga reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. J Altern Complem Med. 2005;11:267–74.
Badsha HChhabra VLeibman CMofti AKong KOThe benefits of yoga for rheumatoid arthritis: results of a preliminary, structured 8-week program. Rheumatol Int. 2009 Oct;29(12):1417-21.
Mahajan AS, Reddy KS, Sachdeva U. Lipid profile of coronary risk subjects following yogic lifestyle intervention. Indian Heart J. 1999;51:37–40.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent article on Yoga Dustin. As a Personal Yoga Therpist I work with people of all ages, and from couch potato to seasoned athlete. As you stated, Yoga is just as beneficial for men, as it is for women. There are different types of Yoga being taught today, by teachers with varying backgrounds and experience. I would suggest that the beginner talk to the instructor before joining the class to get an idea of what to expect.

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