Yoga is a set of practices and principles designed to promote well-being through forms of meditation that unite the mind and body. Yoga is based on Eastern philosophy with some forms of yoga drawing on the Hindu Vedas which are based on Buddhist teachings (Berard, Hallam, Geiwitz, & Kerzner, 2009). The beginnings of yoga date back to 3000BC, and there have been four periods in the evolution of yoga as we know it today. The focus of yoga in the West is on the asana (physical poses), pranayama (breath exercises) and meditation (focused attention meditation). The asana is used to condition the body, unite the breath with the movement of the body and prepare for meditation. Pranayama meditation (yogic breathing) focuses on the movement of the breath and the flow of energy. The process improves breath awareness, clearing the breathing passages, providing energy and vitality to the body while focusing the mind (Hayes & Chase, 2010). Breathing exercises trigger the parasympathetic nervous system which results in a reduction in stress. By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, pranayama (conscious breathing) has a calming effect, reduces emotions (for example, anxiety and fear) and decreases muscular tension (John, Sharma, Sharma, & Kankane, 2007). The practice of asana (physical poses) is a form of movement-based meditation and pranayama meditation (using the breath) both fall under the umbrella of meditation.
Stress & Your Body
Stress alters the functioning of the hippocampus located in the brain which can limit neurone growth and memory function (Jindal, Gupta, & Das, 2013). If unmanaged, stress can reduce the functioning of the immune system, increase chronic pain, blood pressure and related cardiovascular conditions (Chong, Tsunaka, Tsang, Chan, & Cheung, 2011). Stress can result in negative psychological impact, physiological fatigue and emotional exhaustion. When an individual is under stress, the hypothalamus (part of the central nervous system) is stimulated which results in the sympathetic nervous system triggering physiological responses which include increased heart rate and blood sugar levels, decreased digestive function and suppression of the immune system (Huag, Chien, & Chung, 2013).
Yoga assists with quieting the mind, centring your focus and drawing your attention to the mind-body connection.
You need to nourish your body from the inside, and this is achieved by becoming aware of the food you are using to fuel your body.
Maintaining an overall healthy diet not only offers your body the energy and nutrition that it needs to function but offers several health benefits as well. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables as an overall healthy diet may.....
reduce risk for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.
protect against certain cancers, such as mouth, stomach, and colon-rectum cancer.
reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.
help decrease bone loss and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.
It is sometimes the in-between meals that often let down our healthy eating plans. Learning to 'snack right' is easy if you are prepared. The links to the left provide some easy snack options.
Berard, W.-D., Hallam, A., Geiwitz, A., & Kerzner, M. (2009). Meditation as Teaching and Learning Tool. Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, 2(1), 105 - 113
Chong, C., Tsunaka, M., Tsang, H., Chan, E., & Cheung, W. (2011). Effects of Yoga on Stress Management in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 17(1), 32 - 38.
Hayes, M., & Chase, S. (2010). Prescribing Yoga. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice, 37(1), 31 - 47.
Huag, F.-J., Chien, D.-K., & Chung, U.-L. (2013). Effects of Hatha Yoga on Stress in Middle-Aged Women. The Journal of Nursing Research, 21(1), 59 - 65.
Jindal, V., Gupta, S., & Das, R. (2013). Molecular Mechanisms of Meditation. Molecular Neurobiology, 48(3), 808 - 811.
John, P., Sharma, N., Sharma, C., & Kankane, A. (2007). Effectiveness of Yoga Therapy in the Treatment of Migraine Without Aura: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Headache, 47(1), 654 - 661.