Manage Your Stress

The word on the street is that yoga can help to reduce stress in your life. But stress is a complex topic, and there are a lot of different kinds of yoga out there. So you may wonder, how does it all work? 
 
Stress is caused by the release of a hormone in your body called cortisol. 
 
When life circumstances become difficult to manage, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) kicks in and releases cortisol to heighten your awareness, pump blood to your limbs, and focus your brain to get the task done. Later your parasympathetic nervous system (PSN) is supposed to help you recover by bringing you back to a state a relaxation. If you spend a lot of time in a state of stress, it is common for the PNS not switch on, and when you don’t fully recover stress is compounded.
 
To find the most effective tool to manage stress and triumph in your life you don’t have to look any further than your breath. Each inhalation is inherently up-regulating while each exhalation is down-regulating. When your heart-rate differs on inhalation vs. exhalation it shows you have a more flexible nervous system that can more easily go from an energized state to a relaxed state.
 
Some people are overwhelmed by stress and have the tendency to shut down and disconnect when life gets stressful. Disengagement and avoidance can lead to depression. For someone like this to combat stress, they need to develop the energy to tackle the situation and the mental stamina to stay present with it. 
 
Other people get stuck in an activated state which can lead to anxiety, headaches, insomnia, and other difficulties. This person needs to train their PSN to put the brakes on stress. They can learn how to down-regulate by relaxing, letting go, and quieting the mind to bring balance back.
 
Do you know which is your tendency?
 
Your respiratory diaphragm is the muscle that controls your breathing. It works automatically, but you also have control over it and can regulate it. Yoga practices that work with the breath are called Pranayama, which has to do with regulating and expanding your life force energy.
 

I am a big advocate of stretching and strengthening your diaphragm, just like you would any other muscle in your yoga practice. This gives you access to a healthy breathing pattern. You can start by resetting your breath. It is your first tool to manage stress. I have created a 3-minute video to help do just that.

In addition, a regular yoga practice can help you manage stress further. Here’s how it works.

When you perform an asana (yoga pose), it is meant to take you out of your comfort zone. It becomes the stressor. You can’t ignore or escape it; you have to be with it, breathe in it. And with your breath mechanism working properly, over time the uncomfortable spot becomes more bearable, until maybe you actually even enjoy the pose! 

It’s important to realize that I am not just talking about twisted pretzel shapes here. You may find laying still in Savasana (relaxation pose) is the most uncomfortable pose! Either way a regular yoga practice prepares you to meet any stressor your day may unexpectedly bring, with skill and grace.

So here’s what you do: Study yourself. Pay attention to which poses bring on the most discomfort. Then, don’t try to fight yourself there, find your edge. Focus and use your breath to both expand your boundaries and learn to let go. Before long you will see an increase in your ability to manage stress.
 

Four Keys to Well-Being

In teaching yoga my goal is to help you to to be your best self. That means educating you about your body, helping you to listen more deeply, and empowering you to make choices for your body and your life that are healing and promote well-being.

This is achieved through some basic physical things that all my classes, workshops, and other programming are planned around. Here are four things that I have come to believe are the most important to your health and what I hope you gain from your regular yoga practice:

1. Better, more effective breathing.
Breath is life. Many of us live with dis-functional breathing patterns because of tight muscles, poor posture, and stress. Releasing the muscles of respiration and creating better breathing habits are crucial to the body’s overall health.

2. The ability to shift from states of stress to states of relaxation.
There is no doubt that life is busy. But how effective is your ability to turn off the switch? Being able to down regulate your nervous system to a rest and recovery state is a key to quality sleep and improved health. It also reduces anxiety, improves concentration, slows the aging process, and much more.

3. Improved posture
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Your posture follows you into everything you do. Most people don’t pay much attention to how they are standing, sitting, waiting in line, sleeping etc. But your form impacts how you breathe and is a baseline for all of your movement. ​ Bringing mindfulness to your posture and learning to hold yourself in a more beneficial position affects all aspects of your life.

4. More efficient movement patterns.
Conscious movement is the fastest way to get out of pain. Restricted range of motion (ROM) is usually caused by weakness, instability, and tight muscles. Learning to move with good biomechanics results in less pain, more range of motion, and improved performance in everything you do such as carrying your child, playing a sport or an instrument, or practicing yoga.

How would you rate your ability in each of these four areas?  Join me for any of my offerings to expand these capacities and live more vibrantly.

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Yoga, Stress, and the Vagus Nerve

I have a confession to make. When I hear science confirming what yogis have known for a long time, or at least what I know to be true from my experience, I get really happy inside!

Fortunately, this happens a lot these days since much more research is being done about the benefits of yoga. And that science shows that yoga practice works in ways other kinds of exercise does not.

Things we do in every yoga class such as asana, pranayama, and chanting soothe and tone an important nerve in the body called the Vagus Nerve. Scientists are beginning to understand this fascinating cranial nerve which travels throughout the body and responsible for the relaxation response.

When you are in constant stress your sympathetic nervous system never has a chance to switch off. This creates low vagal tone and brings depletion to your body making it feel like life is more difficult to manage. But healthy vagal tone stimulates the relaxation response, regulates the nervous system, and ultimately allows our bodies and mind to be more resilient under stress.

When the vagus nerve is functioning properly, your digestion improves, your heart functions better, and your moods stabilize. You get better at managing the constant changes that life brings. And, it is even believed that strong vagus function can prevent chronic disease. With a greater sense of ease and increased energy you are more likely to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

Here are three ways to tone the vagus nerve that you can do on your own:

1. Ujjayi breath or sound of the ocean breathing.

2. Chant the sound AUM ॐ out loud  or simply hum.

3. Reset Your Breath with this video.

And, for even more vagal toning, join me on the mat, or on the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls and Coregeous® Ball soon!

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Vagus Nerve: The Wandering Nerve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:
http://drarielleschwartz.com/natural-vagus-nerve-stimulation-dr-arielle-schwartz/#.V9bYy5MrLCN
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201302/the-neurobiology-grace-under-pressure

Yoga Is “Sensational”

I have been using the word “sensational” in class a lot lately. Not in the traditional meaning of “very good or great” – well that is partly true. When I say “sensational” I mean “lots of sensation” which IS actually great. Even when you perceive the sensation as uncomfortable.

Let me explain. The body can have sensory motor amnesia. That means that some muscles forget how to work. This often results in using another muscle too much or inefficiently. In many cases this bio-mechanic disfunction is the cause of chronic pain.

Pain is actually a great tool. Its purpose is to help you and let you know that something is not right. As a yoga practitioner it’s helpful to learn to discern injurious pain, which your don’t want, from the beneficial pain of strengthening, stretching, or waking something up from this amnesia.

I dislike the word “pain” for that beneficial sensation you get from your yoga practice. So now you can call the intensity from an exercise or posture “sensational!”

Truth be told, there is no way around sensation in yoga. I like to put it on a scale of 1-10. One being not much sensation and ten being a lot of sensation. When you can breathe, relax, and work in an aligned way, while holding a posture for 30-45 seconds, at a sensation level of 7-8, you will make a lasting change in your body. This is how you snuggle up to your boundary with respect and grow.

Please throw out the meme “no pain no gain.” If you are experiencing a 10+ it’s just too much, back off. That much sensation only creates more binding and new compensatory patterns that are NOT helpful.

New science suggests that yoga practice increases the gray matter in your brain and helps reduce chronic pain. Yoga also helps increase proprioception which is a fancy word for mapping your body or turning on your internal GPS. Proprioception is the ability to feel your parts and know where they are in space.

I am especially excited about the work I have been doing with the Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls to reduce pain and increase proprioception. Check out my upcoming workshops, Unglue Your Stuck Spots, to experience this sensational work.

Unglue-Trio

 

Yoga, Your Brain, and Stress

The research keeps pouring in about yoga and why it has such profound benefits on your health. Here are the cliff notes about yoga, your brain, and stress.


You have two parts of your brain that deal with stress. There is the emotional part and the cognitive part. The emotional brain triggers stress and turns on the fight or flight response. But the cognitive brain has the capacity to turn off the stress switch.


When you hold a yoga posture you are busy concentrating and trying to balance. This turns on the cognitive brain and switches off the stress response. Some postures naturally activate the cognitive brain and turn on relaxation. While other postures actually turn on the stress response, you know the one’s that are difficult and leave you feeling anxious.


Because you are focused on practice the difficult postures simply provide a challenge for your cognitive brain to work extra hard to overcome the stress signal. Like a muscle the cognitive brain gets stronger over time and it gets better at turning off stress. Remember the poses that were once a challenge but you can find more ease in now?


You can see from this short explanation that a yoga practice is not just a workout for your body but also for your brain. Over time you actually rewire your brain! This new circuitry helps you to channel the feelings you want and not dwell in feelings of stress and anxiety. Pretty cool, huh?


Take 3-minutes to “Turn Stress to Rest” with this video. And please watch for my new offerings to help you step up your self-care.



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Alkalize Your Body

Acidity is the cause of chronic inflammation and the root of most disease. Here is an easy way to reduce inflammation and acidity in your body and improve your overall health.

When you wake up brush your teeth first thing. The organs release toxins while you sleep that end up in your mouth and are harmful to swallow. Some of you might already do a practice called “oil pulling” and/or use a tongue scraper first.

After your mouth is clean, squeeze the juice of one lemon into a 16oz. glass of warm water and drink. Stay hydrated with warm or room temperature water throughout the day and add lemon when you feel like it!

Here are some of the benefits of lemon water:

Balances pH
Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body. Lemons contain both citric and ascorbic acid, weak acids easily metabolized by the body allowing the mineral content of lemons to alkalize the blood. Disease states only occur when the body pH is acidic. Drinking lemon water regularly can help to remove the overall acidity in the body, including uric acid in the joints, which is one of the primary causes of pain and inflammation.

Boosts Immune System
Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is great for fighting off cold, recovering from stress, sickness, and injury, and reduces the amount of phlegm produced by the body. They are high in potassium, which stimulates brain and nerve function and controls blood pressure. The ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in lemons is anti-inflammatory and is used to support asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Lemons also contain saponins, which show antimicrobial properties that may help keep cold, flu, and other viral infections at bay. The ascorbic acid found in lemons also enhances iron absorption in the body and iron plays an important role in immune function. This essential nutrient aids in the recovery from stress.

Clears Skin
The vitamin C in lemons helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes and helps to combat free radical damage. Lemons water purges toxins from the blood, kills bacteria known to cause acne and rejuvenates your skin from inside out! You can even apply it topically to age spots and scars to reduce their appearance.

Lemon water also aids digestion, helps with weight loss, freshens breath, and gives you an energy boost.

When life gives you lemons, drink lemon water. Cheers!

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P.S. When you drink alcohol have a glass of lemon water before you go to sleep.

 

Fall Reboot + Recipes

In Ayurveda it is common to eat a simple diet of kitcharie and vegetables each fall and spring for about a week. This helps to remove toxins from the body and give it a chance to find balance again. Even though I have done this many times in the past, this year I missed my spring time cleanse and have been very reluctant to do it.

I like to enjoy the pleasures of life, especially when it comes to food. Though I eat really healthy, I dislike limiting or restricting myself. Despite my resistance I began a reboot for my system a few weeks ago with the intention to do it for one week. I felt so good that I continued on a second week, and now I am on my third week of eating simply, though I am slowly adding variety back into my diet.

I am so thrilled I did this for myself. I feel more vibrant than I have in quite a long while. My energy has increased, and my body feels more fluid, especially my joints which are not popping and cracking as much as usual.

This type of cleansing works well for me because I never feel like I am going hungry. Perhaps the best parts for me are that I got in the habit of cooking for myself again and knowing that I have a healthy meal prepared in advance so I don’t have to figure out what to eat once I am already hungry.

So, if your digestion is off, or you are suffering from low energy and fatigue, aching joints, or skin conditions, I highly recommend taking a week to eat simple, warm, easy to digest food and reboot your life.

Here is what I did:

Breakfast
Sweet Potatoes
Scrub any variety of sweet potatoes and poke a few holes in them. Bake on 425 for about 45 minutes. Peel off the skin then mash with coconut oil and cinnamon.

Stewed Apples and Pears
Cut up apples and/or pears and put in a saucepan with a bit of water to barely cover. Add ginger, clove, cinnamon, and cardamom and golden raisins. Stew until fruit is soft.

Alternate these as separate dishes or mix them together, it’s delicious and filling and my new favorite breakfast choice for this time of the year.

Lunch and Dinner
Kitcharie with veggies (leafy greens, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower).
Top with avocado and kraut.

Snacks
Raw almonds, raw sunflower seeds, cucumbers, dates, banana, and apples.
Limit your snacking as much as possible.

Self-Care
• Fast for at least 12 hours at night.
• Begin the day by oil pulling and abhyanga.
• Start your digestive system and alkalize your body with a glass of warm water and the juice of one lemon.
• Drink herbal tea throughout the day.
• Practice asana, pranayama, and meditation daily.

Please note, I am not a nutritionist or an Ayurvedic Doctor, I am just sharing my experience with you. For more information on appropriate herbs for you and to do this safely for your body type, please see an Ayurvedic practitioner. There are tons of great resources, let me know if you need a referral.

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77 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga

 

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Health Benefits Inside
1. Blood pressure. A consistent yoga practice decreases blood pressure through better circulation and oxygenation of the body. These two exercises can help lower blood pressure.
2. Pulse rate. A slower pulse rate indicates that your heart is strong enough to pump more blood with fewer beats. Regularly practicing yoga provides a lower pulse rate.
3. Circulation. Yoga improves blood circulation. By transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, yoga practice provides healthier organs, skin, and brain.
4. Respiratory. Like the circulatory system, a lower respiratory rate indicates that the lungs are working more efficiently. Yoga decreases the respiratory rate through a combination of controlled breathing exercises and better fitness.
5. Cardiovascular endurance. A combination of lower heart rate and improved oxygenation to the body (both benefits of yoga) results in higher cardiovascular endurance.
6. Organs. Yoga practice massages internal organs, thus improving the ability of the body to prevent disease. Additionally, an experienced yoga practitioner becomes better attuned to her body to know at first sign if something isn’t functioning properly, thereby allowing for quicker response to head off disease.
7. Gastrointestinal. Gastrointestinal functions have been shown to improve in both men and women who practice yoga.
8. Immunity. Yoga practice has frequently been correlated with a stronger immune system. Read this article for more on the immune system and yoga, including some poses that specifically work on areas of immunity.
9. Pain. Pain tolerance is much higher among those who practice yoga regularly. In addition to pain tolerance, some instances of chronic pain, such as back pain, are lessened or eliminated through yoga (see below for more on back pain).
10. Metabolism. Having a balanced metabolism results in maintaining a healthy weight and controlling hunger. Consistent yoga practice helps find the balance and creates a more efficient metabolism.

Health Benefits Outside
11. Aging. Yoga stimulates the detoxification process within the body. Detoxification has been shown to delay aging, among many other health benefits.
12. Posture. The very nature of yoga teaches the practitioner how to hold and control one’s body in a more healthful position. Through consistent practice, your posture will improve so that you look more confident and healthy.
13. Strength. One of the premises of yoga is that you are using the weight of your own body for overall strength. Find out more about how yoga works as an excellent method of strength training in this article.
14. Energy. Regular yoga practice provides consistent energy. In fact, most yogis state that when you perform your yoga correctly, you will feel energized after your yoga session rather than tired.
15. Weight. The benefits of a better metabolism along with the exercise of yoga work to keep your weight in check. Additionally, the stretching of muscles longwise helps to reduce the amount of cellulite that can build around muscles.
16. Sleep. Because of the many benefits to both body and mind that a yoga routine can provide, many find that their sleep is much better. Read here for more on sleep and yoga, as well as some positions for helping induce sleep.
17. Balance. An integral part of the yoga practice is balance and control over your body. With a consistent practice, you will find that your overall balance will improve outside the yoga class.
18. Integrated function of the body. Yoga is derived from Sanskrit and means “to join together and direct one’s attention.” This is exactly what happens to your body after you start practicing yoga. Yogis find that their body works together much better, resulting in more graceful and efficient body movements.
19. Body Awareness: Doing yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body. You are often called upon to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. Over time, this will increase your level of comfort in your own body. This can lead to improved posture and greater self-confidence.
20. Core strength. With a strong body core, you receive better posture and overall body strength. A strong core helps heal and reduce injuries. This is why a lot of athletes do yoga as cross training (boxers, MMA fighters, etc). Read how this swimmer uses yoga to strengthen her core and improve her swimming.
21. Sexuality. Yoga can improve your sexuality through better control, more relaxation, and more self-confidence. Read more about the yoga and sexuality connection here.

Emotional Health Benefits
22. Mood. Overall well-being improves with yoga practice. The combination of creating a strong mind-body connection, creating a healthy body, and focusing inward can all lead to improvement in your mood.
23. Stress Reduction. The concentration required during yoga practice tends to focus your attention on the matter at hand, thereby reducing the emphasis you may have been putting on the stress in your life. Read more about yoga and stress management here.
24. Anxiety. One benefit to the controlled breathing used in yoga is a reduction in anxiety. Learn more about how you can use yoga breathing to reduce your anxiety.
25. Depression. Some believe the negative feelings that you may be repressing are brought to the surface during some types of yoga exercise. When this happens, the negative energy is no longer stuck within you, but released through exercise. Regularly releasing this negativity leads to a reduction of depression in many people.
26. Self-acceptance. Focusing inward and realizing through your yoga practice that perfection is not the goal, self-acceptance begins to take over. This post describes how success is not measured by perfectionism in yoga.
27. Self-control. The controlled movements of yoga teach you how to translate that self-control to all aspects of your life.
28. Mind-body connection. Few other exercises offer the same mind-body connection that yoga does. As you match your controlled breathing with the movements of your body, you retrain your mind to find that place of calm and peace that long-time yogis know.
29. Positive outlook on life. Continued practice of yoga results in a balance of many hormones and nervous system, which brings about a more stable, positive approach to life.
30. Hostility. Most yogis report a huge reduction in the amount of hostility they feel as well as a sense of control when anger flares. This calm effect is likely from the relaxation and meditation that is incorporated in their yoga practice that leads to an overall calming of the nervous system. Less hostility means lower blood pressure and stress and a healthier approach to life.
31. Concentration. Researchers have shown that as little as eight weeks of yoga practice can result in better concentration and more motivation.
32. Memory. Improved blood circulation to the brain as well as the reduction in stress and improved focus results in a better memory.
33. Attention. The attention required in yoga to maintain the structured breathing in conjunction with yoga poses sharpens the ability to keep a sharp focus on tasks.
34. Social skills. In yoga, you learn the interconnectedness of all of life. Your yoga practice soon evolves from a personal journey to one connecting to to the community at large where your social skills improve along with your yoga practice.
35. Calmness. Concentrating so intently on what your body is doing has the effect of bringing calmness. Yoga also introduces you to meditation techniques, such as watching how you breathe and disengagement from your thoughts, which help calm the mind.
Body Chemistry
Several aspects of body chemistry such as glucose levels and red blood cells are affected by yoga. Learn how you can improve your body chemistry through yoga.
36. Cholesterol. Yoga practice lowers cholesterol through increased blood circulation and burning fat. Yoga practice is a great tool to fight against harmful cholesterol levels.
37. Lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system boosts your immunity and reduces toxins in your body. The only way to get your lymphatic system flowing well is by movement. The specific movements involved in yoga are particularly well-suited for promoting a strong lymphatic system.
38. Glucose. There is evidence to suggest that yoga may lower blood glucose levels.
39. Sodium. As does any good exercise program, yoga reduces the sodium levels in your body. In today’s world of processed and fast foods that are full of sodium, lessening these levels is a great idea.
40. Endocrine functions. Practicing yoga helps to regulate and control hormone secretion. An improved endocrine system keeps hormones in balance and promotes better overall physical and emotional health.
41. Triglycerides. Triglycerides are the chemical form of fat in the blood, and elevated levels can indicate a risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. A recent study shows that yoga can lead to “significantly lower” levels of triglycerides. Read more about the results of that study here.
42. Red blood cells. Yoga has been shown to increase the level of red blood cells in the body. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen through the blood, and too few can result in anemia and low energy.
43. Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps boost immunity, helps produce collagen, and is a powerful antioxidant; and a yoga regimen can increase the vitamin C in your body.

Exercise Health Benefits
44. Low risk of injury. Due to the low impact of yoga and the controlled aspect of the motions, there is a very low risk of injury during yoga practice compared to other forms of exercise.
45. Parasympathetic Nervous System. In many forms of exercise, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, providing you with that fight-or-flight sensation. Yoga does the opposite and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic system lowers blood pressure and slows the pace of your breathing, which allows relaxation and healing.
46. Muscle tone. Consistently practicing yoga leads to better muscle tone.
47. Subcortex. Subcortical regions of brain are associated with well-being, and yoga is thought to dominate the subcortex rather than the cortex (where most exercise dominates).
48. Reduced oxygen consumption. Yoga consumes less oxygen than traditional exercise routines, thereby allowing the body to work more efficiently.
49. Breathing. With yoga, breathing is more natural and controlled during exercise. This type of breathing provides more oxygen-rich air for your body and also provides more energy with less fatigue.
50. Balanced workout of opposing muscle groups. As with all of yoga, balance is key. If a muscle group is worked in one direction, it will also be worked in the opposite direction to maintain balance. This balance results in a better overall workout for the body.
51. Non-competitive. The introspective and self-building nature of yoga removes any need of competition in the exercise regimen. With the lack of competition, the yogi is free to work slowly to avoid any undue injury as well as promote a more balanced and stress-free workout.
52. Joint range of motion. A study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine indicated that joint range of motion was improved by participants who practiced yoga.
53. Eye-hand coordination. Without practice, eye-hand coordination diminishes. Yoga maintains and improves eye-hand coordination.
54. Dexterity. The strong mind-body connection and flexibility gained from yoga leads to grace and skill.
55. Reaction time. Research done in India shows that reaction time can be improved with specific yoga breathing exercises in conjunction with an already established yoga practice. The improvement was attributed to the faster rate of processing and improved concentration gained from yoga.
56. Endurance. Working the entire body, yoga improves endurance and is frequently used by endurance athletes as a supplement to their sport-specific training.
57. Depth perception. Becoming aware of your body and how it moves, as one does in yoga practice, leads to increased depth perception.

Disease Prevention
58. Heart disease. Yoga reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, keeps off weight, and improves cardiovascular health, all of which lead to reducing your risk of heart disease.
59. Osteoporosis. It is well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps prevent osteoporosis. Additionally, yoga’s ability to lower levels of cortisol may help keep calcium in the bones.
60. Alzheimer’s. A new study indicates that yoga can help elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels. Low GABA levels are associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s. Meditation like that practiced in yoga has also been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
61. Type II diabetes. In addition to the glucose reducing capabilities of yoga, it is also an excellent source of physical exercise and stress reduction that, along with the potential for yoga to encourage insulin production in the pancreas, can serve as an excellent preventative for type II diabetes.

Symptom Reduction or Alleviation
62. Carpal tunnel syndrome. Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome who practiced yoga showed greater improvement than those who wore a splint or received no treatment at all. Researchers saw improved grip strength and reduction of pain in the study participants.
63. Asthma. There is some evidence to show that reducing symptoms of asthma and even reduction in asthma medication are the result of regular yoga.
64. Arthritis. The slow, deliberate movement of yoga poses coupled with the gentle pressure exerted on the joints provides an excellent exercise to relieve arthritis symptoms. Also, the stress relief associated with yoga loosens muscles that tighten joints.
65. Multiple sclerosis. According to this article, “yoga is now recognized as an excellent means of MS management.” Additionally, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is funding a clinical trial of yoga for treating multiple sclerosis.
66. Cancer. Those fighting or recovering from cancer frequently take advantage of the benefits that yoga provides. Cancer patients who practice yoga gain strength, raise red blood cells, experience less nausea during chemotherapy, and have a better overall well-being.
67. Muscular dystrophy. Using yoga in the early stages of muscular dystrophy can help return some physical functions. The practice of Pranayam yoga helped one teen regain many of his abilities lost to muscular dystrophy. Learn more in this article.
68. Migraines. Regular yoga practice has been shown to reduce the number of migraines in chronic migraine sufferers. This post describes how yoga can reduce migraines.
69. Scoliosis. Yoga can straighten the curvature of the spine associated with scoliosis. Find out how this yogi cured her scoliosis and continues to help others as well.
70. Chronic bronchitis. Exercise that does not elevate respiration, yet increase oxygen levels in the body is ideal for treating chronic bronchitis. Luckily, yoga can do this, as well as aerate the lungs and provide energy.
71. Epilepsy. Focusing on stress reduction, breathing, and restoring overall balance in the body are the focus of how yoga can help prevent epileptic seizures.
72. Sciatica. The intense pain associated with sciatica can be alleviated with specific yoga poses. Here are 10 great ones to help relieve pain.
73. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Studies of people with OCD have shown that practicing yoga has lead to a reduction in symptoms–resulting in less medication or medication no longer needed.
74. Constipation. Due to the practice of yoga and overall better posture, the digestive and elimination systems work more efficiently. If the practitioner also has a healthy diet, any constipation will be eliminated through yoga.
75. Allergies. Using a neti pot to clear the sinuses is an ancient form of yoga to help reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms. Certain types of breathing can also help clear the nasal passages.
76. Menopause. Yoga practice can help control some of the side effects of menopause. Learn how the bridge pose can help reduce hot flashes here.
77. Back pain. Yoga reduces spinal compression and helps overall body alignment to reduce back pain. Find a yoga pose to help lessen back pain here.

Thank you to Lucid Dawn for this fantastic and comprehensive list.

Happy Feet

Many of the discomforts in our body begin with our feet. As you walk, your foot, which could be thought of as a sense organ, finds the ground and sends messages to the rest of the body how to support your movement. This function is limited because we put our feet in shoes and walk along paved streets when our bodies were built to run barefoot on the earth.

Whether or not you have foot pain, fallen arches, bunions, toes that don’t spread, or you wear high heel shoes, this one simple exercise will help you open and increase blood flow in your foot, loosen tight calves and hamstrings, and allow your foot to ground more completely. 

What To Do:
1. Get yourself a “pinky ball.”
2. Step down on it with your heel, slowly move the ball 1/4 inch at a time toward your toes. Stay 30 seconds in each spot.
3. You can regulate how much weight you put down on it. Work it in to the intense spots over time.
4. Make your way from your heel to your toes and back massaging the bottom of your foot and stretching it over the ball like bird perched on a branch.
5. Massage the second foot.

Not only will this open up your feet, but since the body is one interconnected web of facia it may begin to open the back of your legs, spine, and even your neck.  And, since in reflexology the foot is a microcosm for the whole body, rolling your foot can help to bring greater balance to your health and well-being.

If this is painful I encourage you to stick with it. After about a week of daily foot massage it won’t be so intense and you will feel the difference. Please let me know how it goes for you in the comments below. For more foot and leg relief check out this post

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Relief From Standing

It’s been fun making the Yoga Anywhere! Take Five and Stretch Videos and I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve  been hearing from you. I am so glad the videos are helpful!

Some of you have reached out and said that you stand all day, and asked what you can do to ease the discomfort and pain that results.  This week’s post is for you. If you’re a teacher, retail worker, doctor, nurse, waitresses, cashiers or other stander, here are some tips for you!

A few of the consequences of standing at your job all day are; sore feet, varicose veins, stiff lower back, locking the knee joint, and just like our seated friends, stiff neck and shoulders.

Here are some ways you can relieve these symptoms.

1. When you get home each evening take your shoes off and don’t wear them around the house. After removing your shoes use your hands to give yourself a foot massage bringing circulation back to your feet.

2. Give your feet and legs a rest by putting your legs up the wall. Here’s how! While you are there point and flex your feet and roll your ankles in circles in both directions, then rest for at least 10 minutes. In addition to being rejuvenating and boosting to your immune system, this posture is wonderful relief to tired legs and helps to combat varicose veins.

3. Invest in a pair of YogaToes® toe stretchers! I bought these 14 years ago when I was on my feet all day as a schoolteacher and I still love them! They may not be comfortable at first but work up to wearing them for an hour each day. Not only does it feel like having a foot massage but these funny looking things will prevent and even reduce bunions. I don’t profit from your purchase, these are just something I really believe in.

4. Stretch your thighs with a standing quad stretch and use this supine yoga sequence to open your hamstrings and hips. Both will free your lower back.

5. Sit in Virasana (kneeling on your knees) with a rolled up yoga mat or blanket  between your thighs and calves. Start in the knee joint and gradually move the roll back towards the ankles. Sit in the juicy spots longer! Opening your knee joint and giving it traction allows circulation. As you move the roll down you mash your calves and hamstrings releasing tightness in these muscles. This posture is especially important if you wear heels and/or hyperextend your knees.

6. Invest in a foam roller and roll out all sides of your legs. You can also lay over it both parallel and perpendicular to your spine to open the front chest.

Other Tips:

• Change your posture often.
• Notice if you tend to stand thrusting one hip forward or to the side. Practice being aware of standing evenly on both feet. If that is not realistic for  you switch sides often and teach yourself not to favor one leg.
• Be aware of your knee joint and avoid hyperextending or locking your knees.
• Make sure your core is engaged to support your lower back. When I say core, I mean your lower abs and deeper postural muscles which are your funcional support. HERE are a few ways to increase support and stability there.
• Invest in a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes. Thank goddess they make fashionable comfort these days! I often put pair of SuperFeet in my shoes.
• Avoid standing on hard surfaces. Ask your company to buy a rug or a rubber mat or cushion for you to stand on.
• Use the Yoga Anywhere! videos stretch your neck and shoulders while standing up.

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