Tag Archives: healthy-living

Why Flexibility Is Important to Your Health

There are many reasons why having a flexible body is essential to our health and well-being. As a young child I was very flexible because I was a gymnast and dancer. Both gymnastics and dance require extreme stretching of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They also work aggressively on the mobility of joints. I could do the splits every which way amongst many other things.

When I went to college I focused only on cardio. I ran, did the elliptical, jumped rope, and rollerbladed. Sometimes after my workouts I stretched mildly but not often enough. By the time I graduated at twenty-two, I noticed I was far from being able to do the splits. Then over that summer, not quite clear about the meaning of my newfound flexibility deficits, I attempted a back handspring. The back handspring was successful through completion, but I cracked my right elbow when my hands hit the ground. Though my brain recalled exactly what to do, I had neither malleable enough muscles nor mobile enough joints to absorb the shock of the trick.

Three years later, when I was twenty-five, I took my first yoga class. As a novice to yoga I was quick to learn thanks to my gymnastics and dance backgrounds. Low and behold however, I soon discovered that I could neither do cow face arms nor double lotus. My body was imbalanced. While perfectly capable of doing many simple and complex postures, I was also unable to do many asanas.

At that juncture, I realized that flexibility is one of the first things to go as our bodies enter adulthood and continue to age (assuming we are not dealing with an illness). In order to remain flexible, we constantly need to be on top of stretching via yoga and/or other body opening efforts. Athletes especially need to be conscientious about stretching to avoid injury, which is why so many pros like Lamar Odom, Hope Solo, LeBron James, Baron Davis, Blake Griffin, J.L. Lewis, and Justin Gimelstob are now doing yoga. As a yogi for the past fifteen years, I have conquered many of my former flexibility limitations but not all them. Maintaining and enhancing one’s flexibility is a life-long process.

Flexibility Helps To:

1. Prevent everyday injury including: muscle and disc strains that occur when turning over in bed or getting out of bed; shoulder tweaks that result from doing tasks on the job that involve lifting or reaching; back aches due to transitioning to standing from sitting, bending down to pick something up, or even walking up and down the stairs.

2. Improve your posture

3. Lengthen your muscles for a longer leaner look.

4. Make playing with your kids and babies easier and less injurious (remember that touch football game during which you overstretched you hamstrings?)

5.  Allow you to feel more free, open, calm, content, and confident from the inside out.

6. Spread prana (life force) into your cells, which invigorates your spirit.

7. Make cardio activity a lot lighter and easier

8. Enhance sports performance (i.e. better arm and shoulder extension and rotation for swimmers and basketball players, longer strides for runners, deeper knee bends and hip flexion for skiers) as well as to parry blows that come with strong athletic endeavors

9. Travel more comfortably because of the ability to sit in many different positions and do things with your body in confined spaces you otherwise could not do

10. Need I say get through the Kama Sutra?

By Julie Wilcox

Yoga with Chronic Back Pain

Evidence That Iyengar Yoga Can Ease Your Chronic Back Pain

This Health Alert is intended for readers interested in learning about the prevention, diagnosis, and management of back pain.

Ready to try something new for your back pain? Iyengar yoga may be the way to go.

There’s nothing new in the world of exercises for back pain, correct? Not exactly. In fact, there’s more evidence that yoga—specifically, Iyengar yoga—can help alleviate chronic back pain.

There are many schools or types of yoga. Iyengar yoga (named for its developer, B.K.S. Iyengar) features precise alignment and props such as blankets, bolsters, and chairs. The props help people who are less flexible and/or are injured achieve the correct yoga poses. The attention to alignment helps prevent further injury.

Iyengar yoga teachers are trained with a premium on knowledge and a stepladder of increasing levels of accreditation. Even at the entry level, certified teachers undergo a rigorous education program that includes in-depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and demonstrated expertise in teaching.

In the first randomized trial of Iyengar yoga and back pain, 60 participants were placed in either a yoga group or an educational group. Both programs lasted 16 weeks. Participants had experienced low back pain for an average of 11.2 years, and 48% used pain medication. At the end of the study and at a three-month follow-up, those in the yoga group had significant reductions in pain intensity, functional disability (including spinal range of motion), and use of pain medication. The results compare favorably with results obtained with physical therapy.

To read the full article http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/alerts/back_pain_osteoporosis/JohnsHopkinsHealthAlertsBackPainOsteoporosis_496-1.html

Evidência que Iyengar Yoga pode aliviar as dores crónicas de costas

Esta informação sobre a saúde é destinada a leitores interessados em conhecer métodos de prevenção das dores de costas.

Está pronto para tentar um novo método contra dores de costas? O “Iyengar Yoga” pode ser o seu alívio.

Não há nada de novo no mundo dos exercícios contra dores de costas!? Não é verdade, porque há evidência que o Yoga, e mais especificamente o Iyengar Yoga ajudam a aliviar dores crónicas de costas.

Há um grande número de conceitos ou tipos de Yoga. A ideia do Iyengar Yoga(nome segundo o mentor, B.K.S. Iyengar) baseia-se no alinhamento preciso da postura com “ajudas externas” como mantas, almofadas e cadeiras. Estes meios auxiliares ajudam aquelas pessoas que têm menos flexibilidade ou lesões, a atingir a posição correcta de yoga. A atenção para o alinhamento evita as possíveis dores no futuro.

A formação dos instrutores de Iyengar Yoga contém um sistema rigoroso de diferentes níveis de conhecimento e certificação. Mesmo no nível inicial, os instrutores submetem-se a um programa intensivo de aprendizagem que inclui o conhecimento profundo da anatomia e fisiologia bem como a prova de competência didáctica.

Na primeira experiência aleatória (Iyengar Yoga e dores de costas) 60 participantes foram divididos num programa de yoga e num programa educativo durante 16 semanas. Os participantes tinham tido problemas ou dores lombares, em média, durante 11,2 anos e 48 % deles até usavam medicação. No final do estudo bem como no reexame depois de 3 meses, demonstrou-se claramente que os do programa de Yoga tinham reduções significativas da intensidade das dores, da incapacidade funcional (incluíndo o aumento da amplitude de movimentos da coluna vertebral), e do uso da medicação. Estes resultados são ainda melhores do que os obtidos através de uma fisioterapia.

Caso queira ler o artigo completo (em inglês): http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/alerts/back_pain_osteoporosis/JohnsHopkinsHealthAlertsBackPainOsteoporosis_496-1.html