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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

i'm in... are you?

just got an update from bryan kest of santa monica power yoga about a campaign he's currently involved in along with other yoga teachers, studios, and media outlets here in LA and around the country:

Yoga Month 092008
The Global Campaign to Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle

Yoga Month is a year-round awareness campaign and will peak September 2008 with millions of health & socially conscious individuals practicing yoga at thousands of yoga studios, businesses, parks and homes around the globe.

Yoga Month will vibrantly encourage, educate and inspire millions to practice yoga and focus on a pro-active, healthy way of living.

Yoga Month 092008 is:
~ National Awareness Campaign
~ 10 City Yoga Month Tour
~ Hundreds of Local Community Events


considering that many people i know are currently suffering from various health-related issues -- arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and so on -- it seemed like a no-brainer for me to get involved in spreading awareness of how yoga can provide relief from the effects of these life-altering diseases.

according to the Yoga Month website, here are some benefits that can be gained from a regular yoga practice:

Obesity
Vigorous Power, Vinyasa, or Ashtanga yoga classes done for 90 minutes at least 3-5 times a week will produce weight loss. Yoga keeps people more in tune with their bodies making them aware of aware of bad habits, such as eating because of stress, boredom or depression. The first study investigating the effects of yoga on weight was recently conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA.

Hypertension
Research has just begun. In one study, small but significant reductions in blood pressure were shown in just three weeks of daily yoga, and in another study, one hour of daily yoga for 11 weeks revealed that both medication and yoga were effective in controlling hypertension. In one of the best quantitative studies, systolic blood pressure (the top number) decreased from 142 to 126mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) decreased from 86 to 75mmHg after 40 days of a yoga regimen.

Heart Disease
Several trials have found that yoga can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and resting heart rates, and help slow the progression of atherosclerosis—all risk factors for heart disease, says Erin Olivo, PhD, director of Columbia University's Integrative Medicine Program.
While almost any exercise is good for the heart, experts speculate yoga's meditative component may give it an extra boost by helping to stabilize the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels that, when irritated, contributes to cardiovascular disease. Since the lining is reactive to stress, and meditation can lower stress hormones, yoga may be causing a cascade of events that could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Breast Cancer
Research is becoming clear on this: Women who do yoga during and after treatment experience less physical discomfort and stress. Earlier this year Duke University scientists reported results of a pilot study in which women with metastatic breast cancer attended eight weekly yoga sessions. The doctors found that the women had much less pain and felt more energetic and relaxed.

Menopause
A preliminary study at the University of California, San Francisco, found that menopausal women who took two months of a weekly restorative yoga class, which uses props to support the postures, reported a 30 percent decrease in hot flashes. A four-month study at the University of Illinois found that many women who took a 90-minute Iyengar class twice a week boosted both their energy and mood; plus they reported less physical and sexual discomfort, and reduced stress and anxiety.

Chronic Back Pain
When doctors at the HMO Group Health Cooperative in Seattle pitted 12 weekly sessions of yoga against therapeutic exercises and a handbook on self-care, they discovered the yoga group not only showed greater improvement but experienced benefits lasting 14 weeks longer. A note of caution: "While many poses are helpful, seated postures or extreme movement in one direction can make back pain worse," says Gary Kraftsow, author of Yoga for Wellness, who designed the program for the study.

Asthma
At the Northern Colorado Allergy Asthma Clinic in Fort Collins, a controlled clinical study of university students (19 to 52 years old) with asthma concluded that yoga techniques seem beneficial as an adjunct to the medical management of asthma, according to the 1998 published abstract. Using a set of asanas, pranayama, and meditation, the yoga group practiced three times a week for 16 weeks. Though pulmonary functions did not show a significant variance between yoga and control groups, "analysis of the data showed that the subjects in the yoga group reported a significant degree of relaxation, positive attitude, and better yoga exercise tolerance. There was also a tendency toward lesser usage of beta adrenergic inhalers.

Depression
Low brain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA are often found in people with depression. Yoga, it seems, can boost GABA. Preliminary research out of the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard's McLean Hospital found that healthy subjects who practiced yoga for one hour had a 27 percent increase in levels of GABA compared with a control group that simply sat and read for an hour. This supports a growing body of research that's proving yoga can significantly improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
"The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage," stated Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, Director of the Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A randomized, single-blind, controlled clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia concluded, "In this preliminary study, a yoga-based regimen was more effective than wrist splinting or no treatment in relieving some symptoms and signs of carpal tunnel syndrome." The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998, also noted that "Subjects in the yoga groups had significant improvement in grip strength and pain reduction, but changes in grip strength and pain were not significant for control subjects."

Arthritis
At the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, a yoga-treated group with osteoarthritis of the hands improved significantly more than the control group in "pain during activity, tenderness, and finger range of motion." The randomized controlled clinical trial, published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 1994, concluded, "This yoga-derived program was effective in providing relief in hand osteoarthritis. Further studies are needed to compare this with other treatments and to examine long-term effects."


anyway, i've added my name to the yoga month distribution list and will keep you updated...

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