September National Yoga Month-Health Benefits of Yoga

-Health Benefits of Yoga – Overview

Using Yoga to Relieve Stress

To combat stress, many people turn to meditation or other mental stress reduction tools. But stress also creates physical response in the body and, as such, can be managed with exercise — in particular, with yoga.

“Stress sends the entire physical system into overdrive,” says Garrett Sarley, president and CEO of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Mass. “The muscles tense, the heart beats faster, breathing patterns change, and if the cause of stress isn’t discontinued, the body secretes more hormones that increase blood sugar levels, raising blood pressure. Yoga is one of the few stress-relief tools that has a positive effect on all the body systems involved.”

Recognizing the detrimental effects of stress, especially in the area of heart disease, the preventive and rehabilitative cardiac center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles began offering yoga to their patients more than 10 years ago.

“Over the years, yoga has become one of our primary therapies for stress management,” says C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., director of the preventive and rehabilitative cardiac center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Some research suggests yoga can reduce depression symptoms.

Depression

Low brain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA are often found in people with depression; SSRIs, electroconvulsive therapy, and now yoga, it seems, can boost GABA. Preliminary research out of the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard’s McLean Hospital found that healthy subjects who practiced yoga for one hour had a 27 percent increase in levels of GABA compared with a control group that simply sat and read for an hour. This supports a growing body of research that’s proving yoga can significantly improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Yoga could help lower some heart disease risk factors.

Heart Disease

Several trials have found that yoga can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and resting heart rates, and help slow the progression of atherosclerosis—all risk factors for heart disease, says Erin Olivo, PhD, director of Columbia University’s Integrative Medicine Program.

While almost any exercise is good for the heart, experts speculate yoga’s meditative component may give it an extra boost by helping to stabilize the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels that, when irritated, contributes to cardiovascular disease. Since the lining is reactive to stress, and meditation can lower stress hormones, yoga may be causing a cascade of events that could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Women who do yoga during treatment experience less stress.

Breast Cancer

Research is becoming clear on this: Women who do yoga during and after treatment experience less physical discomfort and stress. Earlier this year Duke University scientists reported results of a pilot study in which women with metastatic breast cancer attended eight weekly yoga sessions. The doctors found that the women had much less pain and felt more energetic and relaxed.

Studies find that yoga can help menopausal women.

Menopause

A preliminary study at the University of California, San Francisco, found that menopausal women who took two months of a weekly restorative yoga class, which uses props to support the postures, reported a 30 percent decrease in hot flashes. A four-month study at the University of Illinois found that many women who took a 90-minute Iyengar class twice a week boosted both their energy and mood; plus they reported less physical and sexual discomfort, and reduced stress and anxiety.

Studies find that yoga can help menopausal women.

Chronic Back Pain

When doctors at the HMO Group Health Cooperative in Seattle pitted 12 weekly sessions of yoga against therapeutic exercises and a handbook on self-care, they discovered the yoga group not only showed greater improvement but experienced benefits lasting 14 weeks longer. A note of caution: “While many poses are helpful, seated postures or extreme movement in one direction can make back pain worse,” says Gary Kraftsow, author of Yoga for Wellness, who designed the program for the study.

From Stay Flexible, Stay Well in the October 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

Date updated: February 13, 2007 Content provided by Staywell Custom Communications
http://www.revolutionhealth.com/healthy-living/
fitness/workouts/pilates-yoga/yoga-to-relieve-stress?src=revolution_suggests

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