On this week’s episode of my television show ‘Living Well’, we discussed the health benefits of yoga and meditation. Many people hear the word ‘Yoga’ and they assume that in order to try it, they have to be able to tie themselves into knots or be super flexible.
Similarly, when people hear the word ‘Meditation’, they think about monks living in a cave who spend all day in a meditative state.
My guest on this episode was local yogi Tricia Herbert. She has been practicing yoga for 8 years and teaching yoga for 4 years.
She is a registered yoga teacher (RYT) and eRYT (experienced yoga teacher). She has 200 hours of class room training and an additional 300 hours of training for the eRYT. She specialized in therapeutic yoga instruction during those additional 300 hrs. Her training included anatomy, in-class instruction, history of yoga, the business of yoga, hands-on modifications, etc.
Tricia has taught and practiced several different types of yoga including prenatal yoga, gentle yoga, flow yoga and hot yoga (also known as Moksha or Bikram yoga).
When I brought to her attention that many people assume that they have to be very physically flexible to do yoga she pointed out that yoga is something that is much more than just the physical asana (which is the physical yoga class that we all think about or participate in)
According to Wikipedia, Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline originating in ancient India whose goal is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility.
The word yoga is associated with meditative practices in various eastern cultures.
When I asked Tricia about Meditation, she described it as another tool for relaxation and awareness. It is a practice where you train your mind or try to achieve a certain mode of consciousness in order to realize some benefit.
Many people think that you need to totally clear your mind and stop thinking and focus on one thing.
The way that Tricia describes it, you don’t stop thinking, you just don’t mind what you’re thinking.
We have just touched on the very basics about what these practices are and what is involved in each.
The thing that I feel is important to point out, especially if you have never been introduced to yoga or meditation before is that they are just as described:
‘Practices’…which means that you are practicing each time you do it…which means you don’t have to have any special skills.
You don’t have to be super flexible, or have the ability to tie yourself in knots, or even focus on something for more than 5 seconds when you begin these practices.
Yoga and meditation are something that everyone at any level of health or physical ability can try.
It is my belief that if more people did, they would be healthier and happier.
I have pointed out on many occasions that our modern day, hustle bustle busy world has us running in all directions at once and has us all at a higher level of stress.
The stress response is designed to save your life as you fight or run. This is why it is also called the ‘Fight or Flight’ Response.
Because of our busy lives, we are all at a low level of fight-or-flight, stress response….all the time…
…and it’s making us sick.
This is one reason why Yoga and Mediation have made such strides in popularity in the last 10-15 years. People are looking for a solution
Let’s talk about the Health Benefits of Yoga and Meditation.
Again, many people think that yoga is a stretching class…and it is…to an extent, but the health benefits associated with yoga are amazing.
Yoga improves flexibility, increases strength, and increases range of motion in the joints.
It increases circulation to all areas of the body but especially key is the increase in circulation to the spine that is that body’s command center (central nervous system).
Yoga helps to reduce impingement to the spinal column which increases function to all major areas of the body. This will help to reduce stress and increase brain functioning and, therefore, focus.
Increased circulation gets rid of waste more efficiently, moves the lymph system more efficiently, helps decrease blood pressure, blood sugar, and LDL cholesterol.
Yoga improves balance, decreases chronic tension, muscle fatigue and soreness, and on and on and on.
Meditation has many health benefits as well that are back up by numerous studies. The practice of meditating not only lowers blood pressure but also can amp up your immune system while improving your ability to concentrate.
Practicing yoga or meditation will encourage you to manage your breath better as well. In a stressful state, you breathe only into the upper parts of your lungs. Learning to slow your breath and breathe into the lower parts of your lungs will take you out of the fight or flight response and will decrease your level of stress both physically and mentally/emotionally.
Both Yoga and Meditation do all this as well as contributing benefits in one more very important way to emotional, mental and spiritual health.
The practice of yoga and meditation on any level quiets the fluctuations of the mind and helps slow down frequent mental loops of frustration, regret, fear and anger.
Yoga and meditation are practices in self observation and peace.
If you are in the local are and would like to work with Tricia. She works in private therapeutic yoga in clients’ homes. She has worked with clients in motor vehicle accidents and personal liability insurance claims. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and her office number is 519-777-9529.
If you are interested in learning yoga or meditation, almost every town now has some form of yoga or meditation (or both) class.
Your health will truly be better for it!
Until next time, Live Well.
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. Her weekly Television Series 'Living Well" inspires people from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.
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