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benefits of Iyengar Yoga

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Yoga is not simply an exercise in stretching, it is a philosophy of life that teaches the individual how to achieve a calm mind, which in turn helps to channel energy throughout the body. The therapeutic effects can benefit anyone, regardless of age, beliefs, disposition, and physical capabilities, with results ranging from the positive to the truly remarkable.

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These therapeutic effects are particularly relevant today with the ever-increasing pace of modern life. ln today's hectic world, with its many and varied demands, yoga acts as a relaxing balm, counterbalancing frantic lifestyles by quieting the mind and allowing individuals to slow down and to savor and live in the present moment.

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With regular practice, yoga teaches us how to develop a greater awareness of both our physical and psychological states, which in turn increases our ability to cope with everyday stresses and situations, enabling us to step back and assess our reactions and coping mechanisms.

Essentially, yoga is a complete science dealing with all aspects of man from the physical to the psychological, intellectual, and emotional. If practiced with dedication, yoga has the ability to draw out positive qualities. With its knowledge of anatomy, physiology, consciousness, and conscience, yoga is a science that is able to integrate the body, mind, breath, and awareness, understanding the genuine needs of each person and dealing with every aspect of health and well-being from the periphery to the core. Joan - from Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health

practicing asanas

Regular practice of the stretches, twists, bends, and inversions-the basic movements of asanas-restores strength and stamina to the body. Asanas, together with pranayama, or the control of breath, rectify physical, physiological, and psychological disorders, They have a positive impact on the effects of stress and disease.

strength

Yoga practice can provide strength and endurance benefits. Many of the poses build upper-body strength, which is essential as people age. The standing poses build strength in hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. Certain asanas strengthen the lower back. When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.

posture

In developing core strength and increased flexibility, asanas help improve posture. As well, with the increased body awareness developed in yoga you become more aware of your posture.

stress

Among yoga's anti-stress benefits are a host of biochemical responses. For example, there is a decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters -- dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine – creates a feeling of calm.

assessing the benefits

Researchers have begun trying to quantify some of yoga's effects on health. Some early interesting results include:

  • Studies by the Oregon Health and Sciences University found that a six-month Iyengar yoga program helped people with multiple sclerosis combat fatigue, and also improved the energy level and quality of life of healthy seniors. link

  • An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that doing yoga helped improve grip strength and reduce pain in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. link

  • Regular yoga practice eases the pain of a crooked back (scoliosis). link

  • An article in The Spine Journal on Iyengar yoga and back care.

  • Adult asthma patients practiced yoga in clinical trials to help reduce the use of inhalers and induce more relaxed and positive attitudes.

  • Prisoners in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are being freed early if they complete yoga courses. The authorities say the lessons help to improve the prisoners' self-control and reduce aggression. link

  • Researchers at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey are working to prove yoga can someday help keep breast cancer survivors pain- and cancer-free. link

  • A study shows that regularly practicing yoga exercises may lower a number of compounds in the blood and reduce the level of inflammation that normally rises because of both normal aging and stress. link