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Yoga & Meditation: Mind and Body Rehabilitation

In 2017 we, as humans have more stimulation than ever before.  Every second of everyday, information is constantly fed to your phone or computer; eventually, it will be streaming directly into our brain, like the Matrix.  In a world of such constant updates, it’s becoming more and more necessary to “unplug” and return our minds to a restful place to reset and stop the bombardment of emails, texts, and notifications.  The desire to quiet our chaotic lives is a big reason why meditation is on the rise.  

The most commonly used form of meditation is found in yoga and since 2002, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the number of adults practicing yoga has doubled.  The surge in popularity, according to the report, is in part due to the increasing amount of research illustrating the benefits of mind and body practices, leading to reduced pain and stress.  Another factor is the proliferation of yoga studios.  Between research and opportunity, yoga has grown into a full-fledged trend.  Though unlike many trends, yoga won’t be going away anytime soon and here’s why.

A Clear Mind:

Many articles on the benefits of yoga meditation will wax poetically about the beautiful clarity of mind and body.  While that may be the case, here we will stick to facts. A 2015 report led by Lindsey B. Hopkins Deboer, Ph.D., from San Francisco VA Medical Center, stated that women who complained of anxiety, depression, and stress, reported better moods, lost weight and controlled their anxiety far more effectively after practicing yoga twice a week.  

In a similar study published in the May issue of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, women suffering from postpartum depression saw a drastic improvement in anxiety and depression levels.  In yet another example, the Indian Journal of Palliative Care examined the effects of yoga on women recovering from cancer treatments.  These were women, in some cases, coming back from difficult chemotherapy sessions or surgeries.  Women in the yoga group reported a substantial drop in depression, as opposed to the non-yoga group.

Each of these studies were conducted on subjects who were at difficult points in their lives.  Depression, anxiety, cancer are not easy issues to navigate.  Women in the face of overwhelming hardship felt an improvement from meditation yoga.  If yoga helped people in the midst of such tribulation, chances are it would benefit people in their everyday lives as well.   

Promotes General Health

Diabetes and Cancer are two of the most common causes of death in America.  While they are very different diseases, they both are wreaking havoc on the American population and research for both is off the charts.  While modern medicine searches for the answer, yoga has proven to help those who have or are facing either of these potentially deadly afflictions.  A study by The Ohio State University, reported less inflammation, fatigue, and better sleep patterns for cancers survivors who participated in yoga, compared those who didn’t.  Inflammation, sleep and fatigue are benchmarks used for gauging the recovery of cancer survivors moving forward.  Each is important for survivors to recover and put the ordeal behind them.  

As for diabetes, this study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research reported that yoga reduced the blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.  This is because yoga improves blood circulation in your body, especially in the arms and legs, twp problem areas for diabetics.  Yoga also can improve high cholesterol, body fat, and high blood pressure all concerns for diabetics as well.

Improves Physical Health

The back is one of the most debilitating places on the human body to have chronic pain.  Walking, sitting, running, even simple stretching can induce  searing pain for someone experiencing chronic back pain.  Unfortunately, chronic back pain is on the rise.  In a study, published by JAMA Internal Medicine, the prevalence of back pain almost doubled over a 14 year period.  More and more Americans are suffering from back pain but thankfully there is an answer.  Yoga’s different poses strengthen your back, while simultaneously releasing pressure and promoting relaxation.  Many times doctors prescribe muscle relaxants for back pain but Yoga naturally allows the back to relax while getting to the root of the problem by stretching and strengthening key muscles that may be causing you pain.  As always, there’s a study to document the assertion.

Meditation comes in many forms, with each prioritizing various points of emphasis.  Yoga has become the most common application of meditation and has combined mental clarity with physical wellness.  For years the health and fitness movement concentrated on the body.  Now in 2017, we understand that it is crucial to strengthen both body and mind.  Yoga is a fantastic way of ensuring not only your physical health but even more vitally your mental health.