Wednesday, December 02, 2009

From the Scientists' Desk

I wanted to share 2 studies that came out very recently about some of the benefits of yoga.
A study called “Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of Yoga in the Treatment of Eating Disorders” published in the Journal of Adolescent Health on Nov 3, 2009 found that practicing yoga can help people who suffer from eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

People with eating disorders, basically suffer from a strong disconnect with their bodies and do not know what the body needs. By doing yoga, people re-establish the connection. We become more patient and compassionate toward our being, which included the body, and so the road to healing becomes easier.

The study tested 50 adolescents from ages 11 to 16 who had been hospitalized for their eating disorders. The patients were put into two groups, and one group received the usual treatment, while the other group received the same treatment plus two hours of yoga classes a week with a certified yoga instructor.

The study found the group who practiced yoga in addition to treatment showed more improvement on tests of eating disorder behaviors and thoughts than the group that did not practice yoga. The study also found the group that did not practice yoga relapsed back into eating disorder behaviors more often than the yoga group.
This one is from Science Daily, Nov 9, 2009: ” Heart rate variability, a sign of a healthy heart, has been shown to be higher in yoga practitioners than in non-practitioners, according to research to be published in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics.”

The autonomic nervous system regulates the heart rate through two routes - the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The former causes the heart rate to rise, while, the parasympathetic slows it. When working well together, the two ensure that the heart rate is steady but ready to respond to changes caused by eating, the fight or flight response, or arousal.

Heart failure affects more than 5 million people in the United States and is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65, according to the American Heart Association. Heart failure occurs when the heart’s pumping power is weakened – by coronary artery disease, a heart attack, high blood pressure or various other conditions – and the heart is unable to pump sufficient oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream.
Though many heart failure patients are unable to engage in vigorous activity, regular exercise is an important part of rehabilitation and improving quality of life, but also can be custom-tailored to the individual.

From the Harvard Health Publications – April, 2009 – “By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body's ability to respond to stress more flexibly.”

Those who practice yoga do not need convincing of how important it is to their physical, mental and emotional health. “This is not a luxury for me” says Hilary, one of the many yoga students at the Holistic Movement Center in Morro Bay, “I need this!”

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