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By: Kimberly Kuiken, PhD and Registered Yoga Teacher & Liza Bertini, MS, Founder of Devotion Yoga, and Registered Yoga Teacher
has become a leading epidemic of which more than 80 percent of adults will experience sometime in their life. Oxford Healthcare stated that statistics show it is the second most common reason that an American seeks medical care, second to persistent cough. As back pain continues to plague an increasing number of individuals, many are seeking alternative methods of treatment to attempt to heal this chronic ailment.
sists of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. When these nervous systems are in a state of imbalance, many physiological responses occur within the body. The parasympathetic nervous system, when stimulated, causes a “rest and digest” response in the body. When this system is stimulated, one will experience a decrease in heart rate and
Yoga is a holistic practice that is prescribed as alternative or complementary rehabilitation for back pain. According to Yoga Journal, approximately 20.4 million Americans practice yoga today, an increase of 29 percent since 2008. Yoga’s benefits, which contribute to the improvement of one’s well-being, are clearly becoming more recognized in our Western society. By incorporating physical postures, movement, and breath work, yoga helps to stretch and loosen muscle tightness, correct muscle imbalances, balance the neuromuscular system, reduce stress, and aid in easing the mind to cope with pain.
What is Yoga?
Named for a Sanskrit word that means “union” or “to yoke” the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level of one’s being, yoga is one of six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy and is a 5000 year-old discipline. The most common type of yoga practiced is Hatha yoga. This is a physical discipline that focuses on postures (asana) to bring the body into alignment and balance. Breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation are incorporated to achieve the benefits of yoga which include increasing the flow of energy, maximizing organ and bodily system functioning, and heightening relaxation and clarity of the mind. Through practicing yoga, one begins to have a better awareness of the mindbody connection.
Physiological Effects of Yoga on the Body
To begin to understand the physiological effects of yoga on the body, one must first take a closer look at how breathing techniques contribute to the balance between the visceral, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems. The breath has an incredible impact on the autonomic nervous system, which con-
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blood pressure. Pranayama techniques in yoga help to facilitate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce stress-related disorders. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the sympathetic nervous system, which is often referred to as our “fight or flight” response. When this system is stimulated, there is an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output. When normal breathing patterns are disturbed by stress induced disorders and postural habits, the sympathetic nervous is stimulated and the body resides in an elevated state of stress which can be detrimental to one’s health and wellness. Refining breathing patterns through pranayama techniques in yoga can help to balance the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
Published on Nov 21, 2013
Our inaugural URBAN SANCTUARY magazine that offers something for everyone! Within these pages you will find a directory of workshops for bot...