Get Moving Monday: Yoga Improves Overall Health

Yoga is fast becoming popular all over the United States.  First developed in India, Yoga incorporates breathing exercises, meditation, and asana or postures that flexes and stretches muscle groups.  Its purpose is to create a sense of awareness, strength and harmony in mind and body. The benefits of yoga provide both instant gratification and lasting transformation. In the fitness world, both are extremely important. Too much time with too few results can be incredibly discouraging, and monotonous routines week after week can lead to stagnation.Yoga can change your physical and mental capacity quickly, while preparing the mind and body for long-term health. At any level of yoga, you’ll probably start to notice benefits soon. In one study, people improved their flexibility by up to 35% after only 8 weeks of yoga.

Yoga is a great way to work on your flexibility and strength. Just about everyone can do it, too — it’s not just for people who can touch their toes or want to meditate. Most yoga studios and local gyms offer yoga classes that are open to all generations and fitness levels. It’s exciting to enter a room full of young teens, athletes, middle-aged moms, older gentlemen and even fitness buffs and body builders. Everyone can feel accepted and included and, unlike other sports or classes that focus on niche clients, yoga tends to have open arms. Whether you like to say “Om” or you can’t stand the word “yogi;” whether you are 92, 53, or even 12, yoga can help you.

Yoga poses work by stretching your muscles. They can help you move better and feel less stiff or tired.  Yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows students to be still in a world consumed with chaos. Peace and tranquility achieved through focused training appeals to everyone. Yoga’s deep breathing and meditation practices help foster an inner shift from to-do lists, kids and spouse’s needs, financial concerns and relational struggles to something a little bit bigger than the issues you face. Yoga helps relieve stress and unclutter the mind, and helps you get more focused.

One of the benefis of yoga is that you can choose a yoga style that is tailored to your lifestyle, such as hot yoga, power yoga, relaxation yoga, prenatal yoga, etc. Whether you prefer you’re at home, in a private session, at a studio or gym, there are a huge variety of options available to suit your goals and needs.

Some styles of yoga, such as ashtanga and power yoga, are very physical. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone. But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Iyengar or hatha, can provide strength and endurance benefits. If you are a yoga beginner, Hatha yoga, which focuses on basic postures at a comfortable pace, would be great for you.If you want to increase strength through using more of your own body’s resistance, power yoga may be right for you.If you are ready for a deeper practice, Advanced Yoga, or Bikram, also called “hot yoga,” may be just what you are looking for. In Bikram yoga, the room temperature is set to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in greater elimination of toxins from the body through the increased production of sweat. No matter your fitness level, fat percentage, or health history, yoga has a place for you.

Yoga’s focus on strength training and flexibility is an incredible benefit to your body. The postures are meant to strengthen your body from the inside-out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good too. Each of the yoga poses is built to reinforce the muscles around the spine, the very center of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates. When the core is working properly, posture is improved, thus alleviating back, shoulder and neck pain.

The digestive system gets back on track when the stretching in yoga is coupled with a healthy, organic diet, which can relieve constipation, irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. Another one of the benefits of yoga is that stretching and holding of postures also causes muscles to lengthen, which gives the body a longer, leaner look.

Yoga usually involves paying attention to your breath, which can help you relax. It may also call for specific breathing techniques. But yoga typically isn’t aerobic, like running or cycling, unless it’s an intense type of yoga or you’re doing it in a heated room. You may feel less stressed and more relaxed after doing some yoga. Some yoga styles use meditation techniques that help calm the mind. Focusing on your breathing during yoga can do that, too.

Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. A slower heart rate can benefit people with high blood pressure or heart disease, and people who’ve had a stroke. Yoga has also been linked to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and better immune system function.

In addition to that, some of the known benefits of yoga are:

  • Increased physical flexibility
  • Increase in muscle strength
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Reduction in weight
  • Improved circulatory and cardio health
  • Balanced metabolism
  • Improved respiration
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Greatly improved athletic performance
  • Beats stress

There are some yoga exercises that are more strenuous than others.  Some beginners suffer injuries for lack of physical preparation.  To avoid this when starting yoga, it is crucial that you inform your yoga instructor of certain illnesses and physical limitations that you may have.  If some positions are simply too painful for you, tell your instructor immediately.

It is also best that you tell your yoga instructor of certain mental health issues that are bothering you, whether they are stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.  In this way, your instructor can formulate yoga exercises especially tailored to counter your mental health issues.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/the-health-benefits-of-yoga

http://healthandwellnessreviews.com/

http://life.gaiam.com/article/benefits-yoga

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Leaky Gut Syndrome: A Gut Wrenching Tale

CareerWomanStomachCSP72dpiIt feels just like another one of those days you have been experiencing a lot lately. No matter what you eat, it seems to wreak havoc on your stomach: gas, bloating, and frequent trips to the bathroom have taken over your days, leaving you tired, irritable and wondering if this is never going to stop. 

Foods that you used to digest fine are now causing the most discomfort, and even if you just eliminated them from your diet, you’re are still not feeling relief.

With a discussion with your doctor, you might be subjected to a series of tests on your Gastrointestinal System (GI) and prescribed medication. But the symptoms still don’t go away, and instead just get worse.

Your stomach is trying to tell you that something is definitely wrong—and it just might be Leaky Gut Syndrome.

The foundation of good health lies in proper digestive function. All other health factors can be undermined if you don’t digest and absorb nutrients properly. Assimilation of vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids from the foods you eat and the supplements you take is required for optimum health.

Because of the way our bodies are connected, inflammation in the gut can eventually lead to inflammation in the bones, heart, brain, or beyond, making osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or other diseases you may have a genetic predisposition for even more likely as you age.

What is leaky gut?

Digestive stress can cause “Leaky Gut Syndrome,” in which the integrity of the intestinal lining is compromised and is no longer able to discern what should be absorbed into the blood stream and what is kept out. Molecules “leak” into the blood that should not be present, creating an overstimulation of the immune system, causing inflammation and tissue damage.

When food antigens “leak” into our blood stream, the immune system thinks they are foreign invaders and mounts an immune response that we experience as an allergic reaction. Yeast and bacteria can also “leak” into the blood stream and creating significant immune system activity causing it to weaken.

Beyond causing abdominal symptoms, leaky gut can cause symptoms throughout the body, including fatigue, joint and muscle pain, headaches and other symptoms. It can also cause gluten intolerance and allergies to foods that had never for been a problem.

What causes leaky gut?

So what causes leaky gut? Much still needs to be learned on the condition, but diet, chronic stress, certain medications and bacterial imbalance have been found to play important roles. Eating a diet high in refined sugar can lead to overgrowth of yeast species, which has been associated with leaky gut. Preservatives and chemicals in processed foods can damage the lining, as can the consumption of gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

Chronic stress can lead to a weakened immune system, affecting your ability to fight off invading bacteria and viruses and worsening the symptoms of leaky gut. Medications like aspirin and non-steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDs), i.e. ibuprofen, that can damage the lining of your gut, as well as antibiotics that kill off your essential good bacteria are also associated with increased intestinal permeability. Excessive alcohol consumption, infection with parasites, radiation and chemotherapy can damage the lining of the intestine and are also risk factors.

In addition to bloating and digestive distress, leaky gut can have a combination of other symptoms, such as food allergies, chronic sinus infections, achy joints, fatigue, brain fog or unexplained rashes.

How can we treat it?

The Institute of Functional Medicine developed the Four “R” Program to treat those suffering with Leaky Gut Syndrome

1.    Remove: Undertake an elimination diet. To stabilize and soothe the digestive tract, it is recommended that stop eating common allergens, such as gluten, dairy, soy, and other disruptive foods for a minimum of 14 days, to determine if a food allergy is present.

2.   Re-inoculate: Rebalance your gut flora. To re-establishing microfloral (the good bacteria) balance throughout the GI tract, your Functional Medicine practitioner will prescribe a well-formulated re-inoculate probiotics and probiotic supplements. In addition, foods like bananas, pears, applesauce, well-cooked squash, and so on, will help build up your digestive system your way up before adding more fibrous fruit and vegetables later on.

3.     Repair: Rebuild your intestinal cells. Your Functional Medicine practitioner will also supplements to replace depleted essential nutrients and promote proper repair of the intestinal lining.

4.   Regulate. Once repair has restore your digestive system to health, it is crucial that you continue to avoid anything you notice to cause GI upset.

If you are experiencing a multitude of symptoms that seem to center around your stomach, contact your Functional Medicine Practitioner to test you for Leaky Gut Syndrome. It can be treated and in most case cured with proper diet, supplements and rest to repair the damage and restore health.