Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A-Z: Yoga Strengthens Body & Soul

I admit it, people were all "You should try yoga, you should try yoga" for years, and I didn't want to, simply because I felt pushed towards it. And partly because it seemed kind of wussy and weird.

Then I hurt my back, and my physical therapists strongly recommended yoga. And I was hurting so much I thought, what the hey. I have nothing to lose.
While any regular exercise is good for a body, yoga is "do-able" even for most people with health conditions, whereas running or weight training may not be. 
I started with a DVD like this one (actually, I started with a video tape, and got DVD's later). DVD's work for me because I can do them at home, before work/shower, and not squander the time driving to/from a gym. Plus, there's the money issue - one flat amount, and you don't keep paying.

Yoga Zone Beginners: Introduction to Yoga [DVD]

 Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss [DVD]For someone else, going out to a class might be the best solution.It's also a good idea consult your doctor to make sure yoga is safe for you (thought it's safe for almost everyone).

Later, I added more DVD's to my repertoire, so as not to get bored.

Once I got into a routine of daily yoga, I found that I felt more flexible, stronger, and better about life in general. When things were rough between me and my ex, and I skipped my morning yoga, I didn't feel nearly as capable of handling the stress.

All in my head? Maybe, and maybe not.

From the Mayo Clinic:
The potential health benefits of yoga are numerous and may include:
  • Stress reduction. With its quiet, precise movements, yoga draws your focus away from your busy, chaotic day and toward calm as you move your body through poses that require balance and concentration.
  • Increased fitness. As you learn and refine new poses, you may enjoy improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you're less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.
  • Management of chronic health conditions. Yoga might help with a variety of health conditions, such as cancer, depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia, by helping with sleep problems, fatigue and mood. Yoga also can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Weight loss. If you're overweight or have binge-eating disorder, yoga may help you make the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to gain control of your eating and drop those extra pounds.

 from Healthplus24:
Mental Health Benefits
A few benefits of yoga on mental health are:
  • improvements in concentration, memory, attention,
  • learning efficiency,
  • mood,
  • depth perception,
  • increases in well-being,
  • self-confidence,
  • social skills,
  • decrease/elimination in depression, anxiety, hostility, etc.

Yoga is helpful in reducing stress

Emotional distress is an increasing public health problem and yoga has been claimed to induce stress reduction and empowerment in practicing subjects. Yoga therapy has been shown to be associated with improved mood, and is possibly a useful way of reducing stress in patients admitted for psychiatric treatment.11Michalsen et al. showed in a study that women suffering from mental distress participating in a 3-month Iyengar yoga class show significant improvements on measures of stress, anxiety, well-being, vigor, fatigue and depression. Physical well-being is also increased, and those subjects suffering from headache or back pain reported marked pain relief.12

Yoga shown beneficial in psychotic treatment

Yoga practice has also been shown to improve different aspects of sleep in the elderly population.13Treatment of schizophrenia has remained unsatisfactory despite the availability of antipsychotics. A study by Duraiswamy et al. examined the efficacy of yoga therapy as an add-on treatment to the ongoing antipsychotic treatment. Patients were randomly assigned to either yoga therapy or physical therapy. Subjects in the yoga therapy group had significantly less psychopathology than those in the physical therapy group at the end of 4 months. They also had significantly greater social and occupational functioning and quality of life. Both nonpharmacological interventions contributed to reduction in symptoms with yoga therapy having better efficacy.14

I know yoga worked for me, and I went from being a skeptic to being a fan. If you haven't tried it, why wouldn't you see if it might be something good for you? Don't worry about doing the more extreme poses (I don't do 'em), just give it a few weeks and see if you like it. You have nothing to lose but your pain and stress.

My A-Z theme is Issues related to Mental Health or Mental Illness.

Are you a yoga fan, or have you never tried it?
If you've never tried it, what holds you back?
If you practice yoga, what do you like about it?