Yoga Meditation Reduces Stress And Inflammation — A Mashup

Yoga meditation keeps popping up in the news regarding its benefits to our health by letting us all reduce our stress. The human body was not designed to withstand constant stress on a continuous basis. The fight or flight response was designed to ramp us up for brief periods in order to preserve us. This effect is a sympathetic (i.e. adrenalin) response that gets us out of danger quickly but then settles back to the status quo of calm. Modern living has us vigilant and responding to threats for days, weeks, months and even years. This has a terribly corrosive effect on our physiology over time. Physical effects can result in chronic inflammatory problems and a host of illnesses that are chronic, difficult and expensive to treat. I’ve collected a few related articles here for your reading pleasure that highlight some of these issues and how yoga and meditation can help relieve them and promote health. The first is a short piece that directly addresses what yoga can do to help written by Dr. Timothy McCall and posted by Johannes at Yoga health Foundation that sets the mood.

Yoga Meditation Reduces Stress And Inflammation — A Mashup

As I travel around the globe teaching workshops on yoga therapy — the use of yogic tools from postures to meditation to help people heal — I am struck by what an enormous problem stress-related illness is.  Everywhere I go, from ultra-modern cities like Stockholm where I’ve spent the last week, to less developed nations, people young and old are suffering the health consequences of their increasingly busy schedules and sometimes even busier minds.

yoga meditation

Yoga meditation relieves stress which is increasingly believed to be the cause of many chronic inflammatory ailments. Photo by Jupiterimages c/o Photos.Com.

Surprisingly, in this time of widespread tension, unrest and economic insecurity, most doctors still seem to not fully appreciate the deadly consequences of out-of-control stress — or how much something like yoga can help. In medical school we were taught about the connection of stress to such health problems as duodenal ulcers, migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome. But scientific evidence is increasing indicating that stress can be a factor in life-threatening conditions from heart attacks to depression to hip fractures. Ironically, doctors may be among the most at risk members of our society, due to their endemic stress and lack of understanding of simple non-drug tools like yoga that can fight it.

When scientists talk about the stress-response system, they are referring to a complex web of events that ramp the body up to deal with an acute crisis. The sympathetic nervous system — the so-called “fight or flight” system — kicks in, which among other things increases blood flow to the large muscles that help you defend yourself or run away from a physical threat. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are also released. In response, blood pressure and heart rate go up and breathing quickens. Blood sugar and other energy stores are mobilized to fuel whatever challenge you are about to face. In case you are injured, your blood begins to clot more easily. In crisis mode, the body shunts energy away from restorative functions like digestion and reproduction, mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system, which you can think of as the “rest and digest” system.

This built-in stress-response system is well-adapted to acute crises but can lead to all kinds of problems if it doesn’t gets switched off after the acute crisis passes. Blood clots increase the risk of a heart attack or a stroke, as does the high blood pressure and elevated blood lipids that stress contributes to. Elevated levels of cortisol are associated with everything from major depression to osteoporosis to overeating and weight gain (and the many problems that result from that). And while the immune system initially gets stronger during an acutely stressful event, it starts functioning less well if the stress goes on too long, raising the risk of serious infections and, as at least some evidence suggests, autoimmune diseases.

Original article here at yogahealthfoundation.org:

Many chronic and unpleasant illnesses have no real treatment or cure. They have been attributed to chronic stress and are only modifiable with certain medications but the underlying causes have yet to be worked out. A classic example is IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Stress and anxiety in particular can make this disorder act up and be very unpleasant. Deborah Ross writes for EmpowHER and shares some perspectives on how yoga can improve relieve stress and thereby improve digestive health in those having IBS or inflammatory bowel problems.

September is National Yoga Month, and across the country yoga studios are opening their doors — and hopefully, opening minds, too — with free classes for anyone interested in learning more about yoga’s health benefits.

Among the many health benefits is better digestion, with certain yogic postures zeroing in on constipation, bloating, gas and other minor ailments.

yoga meditation

Yoga meditation reduces stress related inflammation and helps with digestion and bowel function. Photo by Osuleo c/o Photos.Com.

In an interview with the Everyday Health website, yoga studio owner Lisa Korchma said that the regular practice of yoga, supplemented by a good diet and possibly even meditation, can bring about better digestive health.

Specific yoga poses, or asanas, do the trick, Korchma said.

Forward folding poses, for instance, compress the abdominal cavity so that when you release the bend, fresh blood and oxygen return to your digestive organs.

Original article here at empowher.com:

I hope I’ve been able to illustrate how yoga meditation can help to alleviate chronic stress and benefits chronic inflammation which is increasingly believed to be at the root of so many illnesses we as physicians treat on a routine basis. Stress in our lives today is higher than ever. It’s a state of being we were never designed to be in and we’re paying a steep price both individually and as a society. Do your best to mitigate your stress and start practicing yoga meditation regularly. Your body will thank you for it.

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Yoga is really trying to liberate us from … shame about our bodies. To love your body is a very important thing — I think the health of your mind depends on your being able to love your body. 

                                                                                                                                               — Rodney Yee

 

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