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FWD:Mind-body health: Yoga aids individuals with stress, pain relief

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FWD:Mind-body health: Yoga aids individuals with stress, pain relief

Post  byrd45 on Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:51 pm

Mind-body health: Yoga aids individuals with stress, pain relief
By SHIRLEY UPTON, T&D CorrespondentMonday, February 02, 2009
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SANTEE -- Stress is widespread these days. Worries about the economic downturn, job insecurity, high prices and health care are compelling people to seek relief from fear and anxiety. In their search for something to alleviate stress and achieve serenity, many people have turned to yoga.

During the practice of yoga, the focus is solely on one's self, and stress reduction is soon noticed even by beginners.

"I have been involved with yoga since July," said Santee resident Pat Battaglia, who attends classes at Breath & Balance Yoga on Bass Drive in Santee with registered yoga instructor Barbara Rossiter. "The results have been amazing. I put off yoga my whole life because I didn't think it was strenuous enough. Now, I push myself to the edge of my comfort zone.

"Yoga ... is positive, gentle and a constant reminder to be compassionate with my body," she added. "Yoga has made me more aware, bringing my whole being into the movements and postures."

Rossiter said the non-competitive nature of the yoga experience appeals to participants.

"What you can do is what you should do," the Yoga Alliance®️-registered teacher said. "The edge of your personal limit is how deep you can painlessly go into an asana (yoga posture) and still breathe smoothly at any given moment."

According to the nonprofit Yoga Alliance, the health and fitness benefits of yoga are now being confirmed by scientific research. Yoga's central premise is "everything is connected," and its benefits are far-reaching.

Stress and pain relief are two of the benefits of yoga, Rossiter said, noting that yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body by encouraging relaxation and lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Related benefits are the lowering of blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system, along with easing symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia, she said.

According to Yoga Alliance, studies have shown that practicing yoga postures also reduces pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and auto-immune diseases, as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.

Here's what else the Alliance says about yoga:

-- Yoga can lead to better breathing and flexibility, teaching people to take slower, deeper breaths, helping to improve lung function and triggering the body's relaxation response. Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains.

-- Yoga increases strength. Yoga asanas use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength from head to toe. Muscular tension is also relieved by yoga.

-- Yoga can aid weight control efforts by reducing cortisol levels and by burning excess calories and reducing stress. It also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a heightened sense of well being and self esteem.

-- Yoga helps to improve circulation and more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body's cells.

-- Even gentle yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.

-- Yoga helps to improve body alignment, resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems.

-- Yoga helps individuals to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind-body health. It opens the way to improved coordination, reaction time and memory.

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