Yoga: How Yoga Prevents and Treats Chronic Disease (obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure)
We are amidst an epidemic of chronic diseases, meaning that the leading causes of morbidity and mortality stem from conditions that develop slowly over time as a result of our environment and behavioral factors. These conditions include heart disease, hypertension, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, addiction, autoimmune conditions etc. Currently 60% of American's are overweight; which means that being overweight is the normal response to our environment.
How did this happen?
Our modern environment has created conditions that have decreased our levels of physical activity, increased the production of processed and highly caloric foods, while increasing our levels of stress and demands. These environmental / societal pressures have created a toxic combination for people living in the industrialized world.
Fortunately these chronic conditions can be prevented, treated or reduced with conscious behavior changes, meaning that we have to become smarter than our environment if we do not want to become chronically ill.
Current public health interventions have been unsuccessful, focusing on screening, health education and referral programs and do not provide methods for sustainable behavior change.
Yoga addresses the underlying causes of all chronic diseases and provides practical tools to help people create positive change in all aspects of their lives. This holistic healing science has been passed down over thousands of years and its time-tested practices offer an accessible solution to optimal mind-body health.
1. Physical Activity: Yoga is a practice that moves the physical body. It provides an effective weight loss mechanism, helping people to build strength, improve digestion and increase metabolism by strategically manipulating the physical body. Yoga also moves the limbs above the heart, improving circulation, lymphatic drainage and giving the heart a well deserved break.
2. Stress Reduction: Most of the time, we breathe unconsciously into the chest and as a result, the breathing is short, shallow and creates neck and shoulder tension. Deep breathing is the backbone of a Yoga practice and we learn to breathe deep into the bottom third of the lungs. When we breathe into the belly, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system; which induces a relaxation response. Deep breathing in turn, improves oxygenation, lowers the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes muscular tension. This practice is very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, while improving digestion, circulation and immune system functioning.
3. Mindfulness: As we spend time connecting to our bodies and breath on the mat, we become more mindful of how we interact with the world off the mat. We begin to notice how our bodies respond to the food we eat; which leads us to make better choices about the quality and quantity of food we put into our bodies.
Yoga provides us with tools to improve every aspect of our lives, from our relationships to self-care strategies, to our bodies, breath and mind. By taking the time to learn about Yoga, you will be empowered with the tools to make positive choices in every moment of your life; which not only prevents disease but leads to health, happiness and embodying our highest potential.
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