It has taken me years to finally reconnect with my yoga practice. When I was doing it on a regular basis about 3x a week it stretched and toned me, helped my metabolism, strengthened my core and did wonders for my awareness of what I ate and how often I ate. Since I was not practicing, even if I remained active, my body has grown stiff and I’ve experienced more aches and pains and soreness in body parts that used to be limber and well, ache free.
Since January, I have been regularly doing Anusara yoga classes combining them with other modes of yoga such as Vinyasa, Lady Niguma and Jivamukti. Almost overnight, I felt my spine regenerate, and my shoulders and chest opening up, my legs stronger, and I have more energy than normal, yet I do get a deep sleep at night. Perhaps because my breathing has also improved and with added meditation before and after each practice, I am one step closer to achieving more peacefulness and finding my center in spite of a rather chaotic personal and professional life.
For those of you who are practicing, would like to practice or maybe need one last gentle push to start, here’s an article I’d like to share with you:
Photograph by: Shaughn Butts, Edmonton Journal
Yoga, already proven to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, can cut in half the risk of a common and potentially dangerous irregular heartbeat, according to a U.S. study released on Saturday.
“These findings are important because many of the current conventional treatment strategies for atrial fibrillation include invasive procedures or medications with undesirable side effects,” said Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, an associate professor with the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, who led the study.
He presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology being held in New Orleans.
The study involved 49 patients with the heart rhythm disorder who had no physical limitations and no prior experience with yoga. Their episodes of irregular heartbeat were measured for a six-month period by researchers at the hospital.
During the first three months, patients were allowed to participate in any physical activity they liked.
For the remaining three months, they underwent a supervised yoga program that involved breathing exercises, yoga postures, meditation and relaxation.
Forty-five minute yoga sessions with a certified professional were held three times each week, and patients were encouraged to practice daily yoga exercises at home.
Heart monitors measured episodes of irregular heartbeat throughout the trial, and patients completed short self-administered surveys to assess their levels of anxiety, depression and overall quality of life.
On average, yoga cut episodes of the irregular heartbeat in half, while also significantly reducing depression and anxiety scores and improving scores in physical functioning, general health, vitality, social functioning and mental health, the researchers found.
“It appears yoga has a significant impact on helping to regulate patients’ heartbeat and improves the overall quality of life,” Lakkireddy said.
Atrial fibrillation causes blood to pool in the upper chambers of the heart, where it can clot and travel to the brain, causing strokes. Millions of patients with the condition take the blood thinner warfarin every day to lower the risk of such clots, and thereby prevent strokes.
Considering its low cost and benefits, Lakkireddy said yoga should be considered in overall treatment of atrial fibrillation and other heart rhythm problems.
But Lakkireddy cautioned that larger studies are needed to bear out the findings of his study, and that patients should continue with standard medical therapy.
“Based on my findings, one should not tell patients that yoga will fix everything and they can stop taking their anticoagulants. Yoga is strictly a supplement for everything else they are doing medically,” he said.
A new wave of promising medicines to prevent such strokes is being developed by several drugmakers, one of which — Xarelto being developed by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson — will be highlighted at the heart meeting.
But the pills come with side effects, and are expected to cost thousands of dollars a year, when they reach the market.