o g a - m e n u
is one of America's most profitable holistic health care systems.
Everything from books, tapes, and yoga classes are exquisitely marketed
to promote this beneficial alternative therapy. Yoga, which has
its roots in India, uses exercises (asanas) to relax and tone the
muscles and to massage the organs, breathing techniques (pranayama)
to regulate the body's energy levels, meditations to calm the mind,
and relaxation postures to reduce and eliminate stress and anxiety..
is the most renowned and most practiced form of mind/body therapy.
There are several forms and schools of yoga available in the West,
including Ashtanga, Integral, Iyengar, kriya, Kundalini, Sivananda,
Tantra, and Vini, Each emphasizes a different aspect of the body/mind
relationship. Hatha yoga is the yoga concerned with physical and
energetical purification and training; it is the form of yoga most
people think of when they think of doing something athletic to heal
themselves. There are many other less known forms of yoga therapy,
most of which are spiritual and stress a connection and devotion
to god on the astral plane. Hatha yoga employs a variety of physical
postures and breathing exercises to act upon the nervous system.
Most yoga systems utilize energy medicine to regulate heart rate,
promote clarity and peace of mind, and to retard the aging prccess.
theoretical abstracts of yoga were first put down in writing by
Patanjali in the second century B.C. in the Yoga Sutras. The word
yoga means "union," a union between mind and body. Yoga is famous
for increasing flexibility. Because most forms of muscular strain,
fatigue, and chronic pain are the result of restriction in the soft
tissues, lengthening these tissues often lessens discomfort. Yoga
increases strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation, and maintains
postures, or asanas (asana means "ease" in Sanskrit), are generally
classified into the following groups: standing poses, inverted poses,
twists, backward bending poses, forward bends and poses for restoration.
The following are the names of some of the more specific, commonly
used Hatha yoga asanas (with the Indian name in parentheses): Corpse
(Shavasana), Child's Posture (Balasana), Posterior Stretch (Paschimottanasana),
Cobra (Bhujangasana), Locust (Shalabhasana), Half Spinal Twist (Ardha
Matsyendrasana), Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), Half Fish (Ardha
Matsyasana). The major aims of yoga therapy include purification
and detoxification of the body and senses. Bowel purification, enemas,
nasal cleansing, and cleansing of the eyes are practices encouraged
by yoga; there is even an alternate nostril breathing exercise.
The practice of asana, often known as Hatha yoga, is available in
two different types: meditative and therapeutic. According to yoga
theory and practice, the inner life energy is prana, the power and
essence of the body. Supposedly, prana circulates throughout the
body in a system of 72,000 subtle nerves or nadis.
exercises are designed to remove blockages in the the nadis that
prevent the proper flow of prana throughout the body. Blockages
in the nadis can be brought on by stress, improper diet, or toxins.
Yoga believes that when the flow of prana is interrupted, one's
mental, physical, and emotional health are affected. Pranayama works
primarily through the modification and regulation of breath control
(pranayama means "regulation or control of prana, or life force").
Samadhi is the meditative branch of yoga that focuses on meditation
and altered states of consciousness. It has been revealed that in
samadhi, the individual enters a fourth state of consciousness,
a state of awareness separate from the ordinary states of waking,
dream, and sleep.
yoga is organized into eight stages, or "limbs." The first four
limbs serve to bring mind and body into harmony ("union"); these
limbs are very therapeutic in nature. The remaining four limbs deal
with stages of meditation. The ultimate goal of yoga is to help
the individual attain heightened vitality. .
is noted for increasing flexibility. It also improves circulation
and structural alignment; heightens mental acuity; elevates mood;
improves respiration, digestion and elimination. Yoga is also known
for improving memory and intelligence, alleviating pain, improving
motor skills, relieving addictions, heightening visual and auditory
perceptions, enhancing metabolic function, and increasing longevity.
MUSCLES AND FASCIA
(yoga helps fight allergies by increasing levels of histaminase
in the blood (an enzyme secreted by the adrenal glands
which breaks down histamine, a substance involved in allergic
pleurisy (the inflammation of the pleura (the membranes
lining the lungs and thoracic cavity, which are constantly
moist to facilitate lung
movement within the chest))
sciatica (a disease with pain referred somewhere along
nerve, which runs down the lower back)
memory and cognition problems
menstrual cramps dysmenorrhea)
(high blood pressure)
(fast (high) heart rate)
cholesterol (yoga reduces serum cholesterol in the blood)
bone marrow depletion
(yoga can control blood flow to a high degree, and since
tumors rely on blood flow to flourish, the restriction
of blood flow to a tumor region (by yoga practices) can
hamper the growth of tumors)
is a close connection between yoga and bodywork therapy. Both of
these therapies have become mutually compatible, to the point now
where the two schools have similar philosophies and objectives.
Rolfing, a popular bodywork practice, is praised and utilized by
many yoga therapists. Yoga is also an integral part of ayurvedic
medicine. Ayurvedic physicians regularly train patients in the practice
of postures, stretches, and breathing exercises. In addition, the
use of acupressure may help some yoga patients with acute conditions
or syndromes heal themselves without having to be placed on medication.
Finally, meditation plays an important role in yoga, helping patients
relax and have increased mental acuity on whatever plain of consciousness
they may be when they stretch.
therapy is a growing alternative medicine field in American health
care. In the West, an increasing number of physicians are prescribing
Hatha yoga classes as an alternate form of relaxation and treatment
for their patients. Yoga effects are far reaching: yoga is now not
only a field of alternative medicine, but also a burgeoning business
with teachers and practitioners worldwide. Even some insurance companies
now cover expenses from yoga therapy. Yet, even with its newfound
approval and popularity, it is the therapeutic results of yoga along
with the many conditions it benefits that is making converts of
the established medical community.