|Why are we becoming so sick and what we can do about it using therapeutic yogic practices?
Stress makes plaque build up in your artery very quickly. People who have one risk factor whether high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or if they have gone for a heart attack, bypass surgery or angioplasty, yoga is a great way to do exercise and stress management at the same time. Yoga therapy is a stress management technique that includes gentle yoga postures with focus on different systems of the bodies, pranayama (breathing exercises), japa (chanting), meditation, progressive relaxation, yoga nidra (yogic sleep) all with focus on the internal body and versus the external.
Leading causes of morbidity and mortality today stem from chronic conditions that develop slowly over a long period of time. The conditions manifest later into heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, hypertension and obesity. Looking at the risk factors of why we are becoming so sick and chronically ill, I have made a connection that yoga therapy addresses the underlying causes of all of these conditions.
- Physical activity: Yoga postures teaches us how to move our bodies. To develop strength, improve circulation, remove weight, arterial blockages, and more.
- Yoga also teaches us to manage stress just by breathing deeper and learning to calm the nervous system. As we move and focus on our alignment, our joints, muscles and movement we become more aware of our bodies. When we get stressed out, we begin to breath very short and shallow in the chest, which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. As the heart rate increases, arteries constrict, and our blood pressure increases. We become stressed out and that in turn impairs our digestion detoxification and stress impairs our body’s ability to heal. Just by breathing deeply, taking slow and deep breaths in and out of our lower belly in the bottom third of our lungs, we turn on our parasympathetic response (nervous system), which is responsible for rest and digest (digestive system) state of our bodies. So everything functions better when we can breathe deeper, slow down the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and our bodies can function optimally. So breathing is an invaluable tool we can learn through yoga to manage stress anxiety and improve the physiology of our bodies.
- Yogic postures, breathing and meditation cultivates a sense of awareness. We become aware of how we move, how we breathe, and how we interact with the world as a result we become aware of what we put in our bodies and how we feel afterwards.Yoga therapy teaches us how to slow down, to look within, to reconnect with your body, manage stress, and make positive changes off the mat – not only to prevent chronic stress. With yoga you can be healthy and happy and create the life of your dreams.
About the Author
Alpa Bhatia has been enjoying the benefits of yoga all her life. A nationally-certified yoga instructor, Alpa first learned yoga at the age of 12 in India where she was trained in all aspects of yoga including theory and practice of yoga as in whole. She is an internationally certified yoga teacher and has been teaching yoga in Central Florida for over 12 years. Alpa also serves the community as a children’s yoga instructor at Vidhya Vihaar (Sunday school), an after school program at Lake Montessori, and seniors yoga instructor at several senior centers. Alpa taught a course on yoga for one year at Barnett Honors College UCF, and she teaches Therapeutic Yoga at UCF Pegasus Health Care Center. She is passionate about yoga and the benefits each person can gain from the practice no matter the age. While she favors sharing and practicing Ananda (hatha) style, she also teaches and holds workshops on Yoga as Therapy, Ashtanga (power and hot flow) and integral (meditation and pranayama) styles of yoga. She truly believes each person can gain from the practice of yoga, regardless of their age or health condition.