Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do Yoga

If you have been following this blog, then you know that all of my previous posts were about food. I love to talk about how food affects health. Today I thought I’d switch it up a bit and talk about one of my favorite activities: Yoga.

Often when I mention that I do yoga—people think I am sitting around with my legs crossed doing meditation. This is not the case. To explain the difference, it is important to first outline the eight limbed path of the yoga sutra:

Yama :  Universal morality
Niyama :  Personal observances
Asanas :  Body postures
Pranayama :  Breathing exercises
Pratyahara :  Control of the senses
Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
Samadhi :  Union with the Divine

I practice the Asanas (body postures). These are physically challenging to say the least.  The reason I started practicing yoga about 13 years ago was my poor posture. I was walking around with slumped shoulders—a bad habit which unfortunately, many of us have.

My favorite form of yoga is Iyengar. The creator of this form is a man named BKS Iyengar. Essentially, this is a form of hatha yoga with a twist: Props are used to assist alignment. The great physical benefits of yoga include muscular development, flexibility, and better posture. Another benefit to the asanas is that they keep your fascia fluid. Let me explain…

Fascia is connective tissue that surrounds our muscles—as we age it hardens and basically decreases our mobility. Check out this Gil Hedley video about fascia. He calls this his “fuzz speech”. (Warning: This video has some cadaver footage):

As you can see in this video—you do not want “fuzz” to build up. In addition to melting fuzz, yoga has many health benefits. Studies have shown yoga to be useful for conditions such as asthma, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. Yoga is also a great stress reducer. It calms the mind and reduces the levels of stress hormones.

Here is a picture of BKS Iyengar doing a back bend at age 88. As you can see—he is not stuck by the fuzz!

If you would like to find an Iyengar instructor in your area, please try the Iyengar Yoga National Association link: 

Nancy Silva, ND
Faculty, Health and Wellness Dept
Kaplan University


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