38 Health Benefits of Yoga by Timothy McCall,M.D.

Looking for reasons to try yoga? From increased strength to flexibility to heart health, we have 38 benefits to rolling out the mat.
Health Benefits of Yoga

If you’re a passionate yoga practitioner, you’ve probably noticed some yoga benefits—maybe you’re sleeping better or getting fewer colds or just feeling more relaxed and at ease. But if you’ve ever tried telling a newbie about the benefits of yoga, you might find that explanations like “It increases the flow of prana” or “It brings energy up your spine” fall on deaf or skeptical ears.

Researchers Are Catching On to Yoga’s Benefits

As it happens, Western science is starting to provide some concrete clues as to how yoga works to improve healthheal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay. Once you understand them, you’ll have even more motivation to step onto your mat, and you probably won’t feel so tongue-tied the next time someone wants Western proof.

First-Hand Experience With the Benefits of Yoga

I myself have experienced yoga’s healing power in a very real way. Weeks before a trip to India in 2002 to investigate yoga therapy, I developed numbness and tingling in my right hand. After first considering scary things like a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis, I figured out that the cause of the symptoms was thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve blockage in my neck and chest.

“…for more than a year, I’ve been free of symptoms.”

My experiment proved illuminating. At the Vivekananda ashram just outside of Bangalore, S. Nagarathna, M.D., recommended breathing exercises in which I imagined bringing prana (vital energy) into my right upper chest. Other therapy included asana, Pranayamameditation, chanting, lectures on philosophy, and various kriya (internal cleansing practices). At the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and from A.G. Mohan and his wife, Indra, who practice just outside of Chennai, I was told to stop practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand in favor of gentle asana coordinated with the breath. In Pune, S.V. Karandikar, a medical doctor, recommended practices with ropes and belts to put traction on my spine and exercises that taught me to use my shoulder blades to open my upper back.

Thanks to the techniques I learned in India, advice from teachers in the United States, and my own exploration, my chest is more flexible than it was, my posture has improved, and for more than a year, I’ve been free of symptoms.

38 Ways Yoga Improves Health

My experience inspired me to pore over the scientific studies I’d collected in India as well as the West to identify and explain how yoga can both prevent disease and help you recover from it. Here is what I found.

Supta Padangusthasana Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

1. Improves your flexibility

Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You’ll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear. That’s no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.

2. Builds muscle strength

Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.

See alsoWhy You Should Add Weights to Your Yoga Practice

3. Perfects your posture

Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for eight or 12 hours a day and it’s no wonder you’re tired. And fatigue might not be your only problem. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.

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4. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown

Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.

5. Protects your spine

Spinal disks—the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves—crave movement. That’s the only way they get their nutrients. If you’ve got a well-balanced asana practice with plenty of backbendsforward bends, and twists, you’ll help keep your disks supple.

See alsoHow to Build a Home Practice

6. Betters your bone health

It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. In an unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (see Number 11) may help keep calcium in the bones.

handstand pose alexandria crow

7. Increases your blood flow

Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. This can help if you have swelling in your legs from heart or kidney problems. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.

8. Drains your lymphs and boosts immunity

When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.

See alsoLymphedema Relief Through Yoga

9. Ups your heart rate

When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it can boost your heart rate into

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit

21 Immune Boosting Foods, Tonics & Teas.

Immune boosting food

It’s that time of year again: the sniffles are starting, the coughs continuing, and the nausea never-ending. Cold and flu season is upon us. Whether you are susceptible to getting sick or are able to avoid the illnesses most years, cold and flu prevention is important. Not only is a cold or flu a nuisance, interrupting your daily life and routines and making you feel awful, but it’s also a sign of an immune system in need. A weak immune system can also be linked with high levels of stress, poor sleep, and poor digestion, so addressing all of these things can help bolster your immune system in a very powerful way. However, there are foods, herbs, tonics and teas that you can use to help strengthen your immune system to try to prevent getting sick, and also things you can include in your diet to help you if you’re already sick. From fruits and vegetables to extracts and tinctures, read on for 21 of our most powerful immune-boosting foods, tonics, teas, and more!

Vegetables 

Our first category is vegetables. Where else would we start? Vegetables harness so much amazing power to impact and better our health. We have 4 of our favourites for immune-boosting benefits, but before we dive in, let’s talk about the importance of organic. Certified organic produce is the best choice you can make for your health. It helps ensure you are getting the minerals and nutrients you need from organic soil, whereas conventional produce is grown on mineral-depleted and nutrient-starved soils. Certified organic produce also is grown and farmed without the use of chemicals or pesticides. In fact, by choosing the Dirty Dozen (the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables) organic, you can reduce your pesticide intake by up to 80%. Vegetables have so much to offer, especially when it comes to immune benefits, but make sure you’re making the most of your veggies by choosing organic!

Cabbage: Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that comes in many colours and is low in calories, but mighty high in nutrients, including vitamin C—of which it has about 37mg per 100g of cabbage. And vitamin C is a powerhouse when it comes to immunity! While raw it is very healthy for you, cabbage is even better for your immune system and digestive tract when it’s fermented in the form of sauerkraut or kimchi. Fermented foods heal your gut lining and digestion, and your gut houses 70% of your immune system cells, meaning fermented foods boost your immunity, too.

Garlic:  You may have heard of using garlic to ward off vampires, but how about to ward off colds and flu? Garlic contains compounds that have been shown to improve white blood cells’ ability to fight off certain viruses, such as those that cause colds and flu. It’s great to eat, but it also comes in a supplement form, and studies have shown that daily supplementationwith garlic can reduce colds by 63% when compared with placebo.1 Plus, another study showed that a high dose of garlic extract can the amount of cold or flu sick days by 61%.2 It’s a powerhouse for your immune system!

Peppers: Another vegetable that is high in the immune-boosting vitamin C is bell peppers. Red bell peppers have the most vitamin C of all varieties, and all bell peppers also have lots of phytochemicals and carotenoids, like beta-carotene, which are chock full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Plus, peppers can help clear out congested mucus membranes in the nose and lungs, helping you eliminate the toxins and disease-causing components of your cold or flu faster!

Spinach:Like its friends cabbage and peppers, spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold and flu and bolster the immune system. That’s not all it has, though. It’s also high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, like peppers, which may help our immune system fight infection and viruses easier. An interesting fact about spinach is that its nutrients are best retained when the vegetable is raw, so try enjoying spinach in a delicious salad rather than in your stir fry for the most immune benefits.3

 

 Professional advice 

 

Fruits

Just like vegetables, fruits are more beneficial for our health and immune system when they are grown organically. Especially fruits like berries, which are frequently on the dirty dozen list, and yet so high in things like antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. Choose your fruits organically to help avoid the downfalls of pesticides and chemicals, which add to your toxic load and can burden your immune system. And, just like vegetables, certain fruits have amazing immune-boosting benefits that you may not know about. Read on and enjoy these powerful items for maximum immunity!

Coconuts and Coconut Oil: Coconut in all its forms is a superfood powerhouse. It’s loaded with healthy medium chain fatty acids, is beneficial for our metabolism, can be used as a beauty product for healthier hair and skin, and now you can add “immune-boosting” to that list of benefits. Coconut oil has been shown to be antimicrobial, killing fungus and bacteria, and has proved beneficial for helping fight pneumonia. One study showed that children who took coconut oil recovered from pneumonia much faster than those who did not, and also had reduced fevers, clearer breathing, and normal blood oxygenation.4The next time you add coconut oil to your smoothie or cooked veggies, your immune system will thank you!

Berries:Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, are extremely high on the ORAC scale—meaning they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals. This is great for your immune system and general health. Blueberries in particular may help you fend off colds and flu, though, as they are high in pterostilbene. Researchers from Oregon State University found that when this compound was combined with vitamin D, the body’s ability to fend off illness increased.5 The same was shown with the resveratrol found in red grapes. Yet another reason to enjoy those blueberries!

Citrus Fruits:Citrus fruits, like grapefruit, oranges, and lemons, are low in sugar, which is known to be an immune-suppressant, and packed with vitamin C, which is essential for fending off infections like colds and flu by boosting the production of white blood cells. Your body does not produce vitamin C on its own, so be sure to stock up on vitamin C by enjoying the fruits and vegetables—like citrus fruits—which are rich in this immune-boosting vitamin!

Apples:Along with being high in vitamin C, apples are also a rich source of soluble fiber. A study in 2010 done at the University of Illinois showed that soluble fiber helps to strengthen the immune system by changing the “personalities” of immune cells. Instead of being pro-inflammatory, the cells turn to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help the body recover from infection and illness faster.6I guess the saying is right—an apple a day may really keep the doctor away!

 

Professional Advice

Herbs:

Herbs are a passion of Janet Jacks’. She understands how much power they have to harness our health, and improve it when things are going awry. She often turns to herbs in the form of spices and teas to help her deal with different health issues, and encourages others to do the same. Herbs are especially vital when it comes to our immune system—and they’re so readily available to us! Using them in our cooking in dried or fresh forms, or finding them in oils and tinctures, you can’t go wrong when you decide to include more herbs in your everyday life. Read on for our top 4 immune-boosting herbs and start using them in your kitchen.

Oregano: Herbs are powerful when it comes to our health, and oregano is a great one for immune benefits. It’s high in vitamins A, C, E, and K, all of which are good for your immune system, and has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal effects. In fact, studies have shown that essential oils from oregano may help to fight off Listeria and the superbug MRSA. Imagine what it might do for your everyday immune health!7

Turmeric: You’ve probably heard of turmeric as a superfood herb, with its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But did you know the active ingredient that helps with these things in turmeric is actually curcumin? This is an anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory compound that is excellent to help fend of everyday colds and flus as well as more serious conditions like cancer. Plus, since inflammation is at the root of so many diseases, being anti-inflammatory is an extra bonus.

Ginger:  Ginger is historically one of the most common substances used to help with colds and flu.  It’s a powerful agent in helping ward off and dispel nausea due to its ability to help break up and dispel intestinal gas or other disruptions.8It’s a great remedy to have when you have the flu, as in lemon and ginger tea or in a chew like the Ginger People chews. Plus, because it’s good for nausea, it’s also been shown to be effective for motion sickness, seasickness, and sickness associated with pregnancy.

Licorice root:  Licoriceis good for so many ailments, and one amazing power it has is to boost

READ MORE HERE:  https://goodnessme.ca/blogs/goodness-me/21-immune-boosting-foods-tonics-teas

My secret Magickal room…